I read an article today about Siegfried & Roy's Reappearing Act on Saturday - a charity performance in Vegas featuring an illusion with Montecore, the bengal tiger.
Flashback to October of 2003. My one and only visit to Las Vegas. Ted was going to a conference, and I was so excited because I had been wanting to see Siegfried & Roy's act for a long time.
We were at the early performance that night and we sat at a table with four other people. The first half of the show was a lot of magic, loud music, and a few of the tigers. The second half, we were told by one of the gentleman at our table, would feature more of the beautiful tigers. I couldn't wait to see them!
The second half started, and it was very quiet. Roy came out with Montecore on a leash and a cordless mic in his other hand. The tiger was absolutely gorgeous, and huge! The stage had a runway that came out into the crowd. He walked to the end of the runway and started telling us about Montecore. He told us, as he told the story every night, that this was Montecore's first time on stage. This was not true, but apparently part of the act.
As Roy was turning to get into a different position with the tiger, all of a sudden the tiger grabbed his arm. Roy took the cordless mic and hit him several times very hard on the nose. I whispered to Ted that something was not right - he would not hit that tiger on the nose as part of the act.
Roy then appeared to trip and fall and Montecore grabbed him by the neck. All of a sudden, Siegfried and a stage hand walked quickly out to the stage and appeared to escort Montecore on either side as the tiger dragged Roy behind the curtain. Then a lot of loud noise occurred backstage. The audience was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
Siegfried came back out and told the audience that the rest of the performance was going to be cancelled. Everyone remained in their seats and just looked at each other wondering what was going on. Then a gentleman's voice came over the loud speaker and apologized for the performance being cancelled, and told us how to get our money refunded.
It took awhile before anyone got up out of their seats because we were in disbelief, and wondered what we had just seen. As we walked out of the theater, there was a long line of people waiting to see the performance after ours.
Except there was no performance. Ever again. Until this past Saturday night.
We went to dinner in the hotel, and you could hear people talking about it, but not really knowing what had happened. Our waiter said he heard that Roy was taken to the hospital. Not until we got back to the room and saw the news did we realize what we had witnessed.
In reading all the articles about the incident, it made me mad that they portrayed it as this ferocious attack in front of the audience. I don't think anyone that night had a clue what was happening. In fact, many of us initially thought it was part of the act. There was no screaming and absolutely no blood on stage. We discovered later that the noise we heard when they got backstage came from all the handlers who were trying to get the tiger off Roy and into a cage.
It was a night I'll never forget!