When Joe Conrad opened his Vegas-style magic show in the central location of the Jungceylon shopping mall last year, he predicted that his was to be the first of many big-budget productions that could transform Patong, Phuket into the Las Vegas of Asia.
Up until that point it had only been the Fantasea production in Kamala and perhaps – at a stretch – Simon Cabaret in Patong that had managed to put on family-orientated shows of the like that couldn’t be found along Bangla road in Patong.
Unfortunately, judging from the empty concession stands and ticket booths, it seems that Joe and his magic show have – after a high season or two – gone the way of many tried and failed theatrical extravaganzas by bravely deviating from the tried and tested Phuket formula.
Indeed many international dinner shows, theme and water parks, businesses and numerous publications have found the year of 2011 an incredibly difficult one to survive. What seemed to be different about the disappearance of the Joe Conrad Magic Show however, was why and how it managed to happen so quickly. It seemed to be a great idea, in a perfect location and judging from his achievements and international recognition, Joe did actually seem to know what he was doing…
Rather tellingly then, just because a concept is new, staff are capable and there is an opening in the market, this does not necessarily guarantee success in Phuket.
What may have merely symbolised the passing of the magic wand or in fact sped up the decline of Joe’s show, was the opening of the rival international magic show Joe Labero: The Genesis Magical Spectacular which opened on Bangla road just a few months ago…
Thankfully, at least for Joe (Labero), everything appears to be going very, very well indeed. Each of the two nightly shows (7.30 pm and 9.30 pm) continue to be well attended, and according to many sources the show is an incredible mix of world-class illusions, European dance flair and great music, effects and production.
Joining Labero’s 2012 entrance into the foray of Phuket shows and stage performances are numerous perhaps less unique ideas that could, if one was to be cynical, vain attempts at piggy-backing on the success of already popular concepts and businesses on the island.
One of which is the new ‘must-see’ ‘cultural’ show Siam Niramit Phuket which, like Phuket Fantasea, seeks to take visitors on a journey through Thai history and treat them to a wonderful world of symbolism, religion, beauty and the ever-perplexing notion of Thai-ness.
Aphrodite – a new ladyboy show – has also recently opened on the island, very much taking off from where Simon Cabaret started many, many years ago.
Only time and perhaps a low season will tell as to whether the new businesses on the island will go the way of the many brave cultural scouts and unsuccessful performing pioneers…
One thing for sure however is that such competition and increased options for holiday-makers’ hard earned baht and precious time will prove great for the Phuket visitor.