NY Theater Review Sandi Durell


You’ll ooh and ahh – how did he do that? Well, that’s the mystique of magic and illusion. We never know how they do it! I’ve always been a fan of this art form and ‘The Illusionists,’ at the Marriott Marquis Theatre on Broadway, are a compilation of the best in the business as they make their New York debut, having toured worldwide. They tantalize with their skills and abilities, all accessorized by the magic of technology – the lighting, projections, smoke and laser beams creating a dramatic set design together with ear-piercing sound by a band named “Z.”

Seven of the best in the world have come together to perform feats of wonder, perfect for the holiday season, and so very different from what is currently the Broadway smorgasbord.   Take Kevin James, The Inventor, whose specialty is sawing a man in half in a flourish of sparks – his top half seems to do just fine without the bottom and then, wha-la, in a flash, he’s back together again as if nothing happened. Don Sperry, The Anti-Conjuror, reminds me of one of the Kiss gang, in his outrageous hairdo, white face and tattoos, with rings and things showing from different body parts. He also moves through his act of playing Russian Roulette with an audience member faster than the speed of sound and, then, later produces doves from seemingly nowhere.

Aaron Crow, The Warrior, does wonders with a bow and arrow, ala William Tell, and an apple, while Adam Trent, The Futurist, is not only an amazing close-up magician, but has mastered the art of LED technology that is eye-popping.

The very glitzy master of ceremonies, The Trickster Jeff Hobson, is more comedian than magician – no, I’ll take that back. He’s equally good at both and keeps the audience in proverbial stitches throughout. From Korea comes the stylishly graceful card magician Yu Ho-Jin, The Manipulator.

And I’m saving the most dramatic and heart-stopping for last – Andrew Basso, hailing from a small village outside of Venice, The Escapologist. With video introduction showing the great Houdini in his Water Torture Cell, young Basso replicates the potential horror as an audience member cuffs his hands. He then steps into foot locks and is lifted upside down into a tank of water, as we listen to heart-thumping sounds coming from “Z” to emphasize the terror. He takes nothing with him other than a hairpin which, we hope, will open the cuffs and the lock outside the tank above. The clock ticks. It is over 3 minutes when he finally emerges and we can barely breathe.

For astounding jaw-dropping moments of disbelief, The Illusionists are the perfect change of pace when someone says “let’s go see a show.” Whether you’re young, old, and whatever language you speak, you’ll understand the entertainment value when you witness the impossible!

Thru January 4th www.theillusionistslive.com

Photos/Video: Sandi Durell