Each of the tricks are well thought out, expertly executed, and magically delicious.
When I was first asked to review The Illusionists, now materializing on the stage at The Fabulous Fox, I was hesitant. I normally review theatrical shows, not magic shows. But the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself a magic show is pure theater. Creating magical illusions out of thin air—most of which have elaborate scenery—eminently qualifies this kind of show as a theatrical event. Combine this with the fact that a pounding rock soundtrack accompanies the show and you have a magical night of illuminating theater right at your fingertips. Even more so, it is possible I am the perfect candidate to review this type of show: I am what you would call a naïve narcissist. While I am always trying to look for how the tricks are performed, there is a part of me that wants to believe that magic exists: quite the dichotomy.
The show has traveled the world through has many incarnations. The set of seven illusionists St. Louis was treated to included an Escapologist, a Deductionist, a Daredevil, a Trickster, an Inventor, an Anti-Conjuror, and a Manipulator.
While I will not go into the exact magic tricks each performed, trust me, St. Louis: All of these illusions have to be seen to be believed. Each of the tricks are well thought out, expertly executed, and magically delicious.
Another thing you need to know before you go is there is audience participation in nearly every segment of the show. If you have tickets in the first 30 rows, you will be in a prime position of being chosen to take part in many of the illusions.
The Trickster, Kevin James, served as the MC of the night. As he performed sleight-of-hand tricks throughout the night, his charismatic personality charmed the crowd. He knew how far he could go with the audience members, and how to turn on the sparkle when needed. His most impressive performance involved a disappearing egg and a satin bag. While the trick appeared simple enough, he had to rely on two audience members to pull off the illusion. Personally, I was overwhelmed in how he pulled off this trick utilizing two muggles.
The Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry, started off slow with simple tricks, but as the night progressed, his illusions become more involved and grandiose. As he relied on gore for his shock factor, he left me wondering how he managed to get a coin from one part of his body to the other. Each of his acts were a bloody good time.
The Daredevil, Jonathan Goodwin, amazed the crowd with his expert crossbow skills. His accuracy was mesmerizing, and the fact that he used a metal blindfold while shooting balloons held by his talented assistant was mind blowing. His act will prove it’s not what you hit, but truly what you miss.
The Inventor, Kevin James, was more a traditional illusionist utilizing several assistants and props in each of his sets. While some might think his more impressive illusion was what I would call “The Big Slice,” his most touching performance came when he asked a darling little girl to help him with a trick involving him turning a paper rose into a real one. The look of wonderment on the little girl’s face nearly brought tears to my eyes.
The Escapologist, Andrew Basso, performed one of the most breathtaking spectacles of the night, taking on one of Houdini’s most legendary events, the Water Torture Cell. With handcuffs binding his handsand padlocks binding his feet, Basso was dropped upside down into a water tank. As each minute ticked away, my heart crept up into my throat as I worried he was running out of time. Never doubt a master, as Basso completed the trick in such as fashion that Houdini has to be looking down on the talented contortionist, beaming with pride.
The Manipulator, the award-winning An Ha Lim, took on one of the most classic illusions involving magically appearing cards. Donned in his elbow-length magical jacket and using multiple decks, he conjured a mesmerizing number of cards. Deck after deck, he littered the stage with a massive number of cards with no logical reasoning from whence they came. As the cards floated down on the stage, it appeared as if they were magical cherry blossoms drifting from the sky. Not only were his performances mind-boggling, they were gorgeous to watch.
While all the performers were masters of their own games, my personal favorite had to be The Deductionist, Colin Cloud. As he invoked the spirit of Sherlock Holmes, I was mystified when he made statements about total stranger that rang true. Perhaps his most impressive illusion involved a math trick that made the entire crowd of 3,300-plus gasp in disbelief. Each of his illusions relied on his powers of observation, which are top notch and awe inspiring.
The Illusionists is a fantastic production from start to finish. You will be amazing, astonished, and, most of all, entertained. The show moves quickly, which keeps the kids engaged, and the brilliant illusions created onstage will have you guessing how they did, it all the way home. If you missed out while they were here for their short run, be sure to snatch your tickets the next time they appear. It is a night of spellbinding, mind-bending magical fun for all ages.| Jim Ryan
Catch this show in Denver at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House on May 19, 2017