NME After Print: REVIEW: Experience the Wonder of The Illusionists - Live on Broadway


The Illusionists - Live on Broadway: Photo by Joan Marcus

Do you remember your first magic trick? The wonderment you felt watching the setup and then the wide-eyed joy you expressed when you saw the result? Magic is such a part of my childhood. Watching David Copperfield specials and wondering how he can make things like the Statue of Liberty disappear. I got to feel that joy again with my 15 and 7-year-old sons at The Illusionists - Live on Broadway at Popejoy Hall. Seven magicians with different talents on one stage - it was almost too much to handle! Let’s start with The Escapologist. Andrew Basso puts his dream and nightmare all on stage with the trick Houdini made infamously, the Chinese Water Torture Chamber. I almost missed it as I kept my hands over my eyes for most of the trick. But the exhilaration of watching a man in a tank trying to escape live on stage is one that doesn’t leave your mind.

Kevin James, the Investor, truly reminds me of that endearing Grandfather who was always pulling quarters from children’s ear but with the mind of Dr. Frankenstein. The sweetest part of his act was working with a 5-year-old girl on one of his illusions, one of my favorite moments. Dan Sperry, the Anti-Conjuror, was one of the most disturbing magicians I have ever seen live. If punk and magic had a baby, it would be Dan. He will have your face twisting in shock and horror while making you laugh the whole time. The Anti-Conjuror is not for the faint of heart.

The show has its own Sherlock Holmes! Colin Cloud, The Deductionist, had me saying “How did he do that?” throughout his whole set - the man knew the names of pets of random people in the audience. If that wasn’t enough to get me, the “program trick” sealed the deal. Yu Ho-Jin earned his title of The Manipulator. You might say, “He just works with cards,” but that is putting it lightly. Ho-Jin, in a second, can take a simple pack of playing cards and change what you’re seeing in an instance. He is the master of sleight of hand and you have to see it to believe it.

One of the acts I was familiar with, their Weapon Master, Ben Blaque. I saw him on America’s Got Talent and no matter how many times I’ve seen his act, it’s different watching it live. Blaque has mastered his skill of shooting a crossbow, so much so that he can do it blindfolded - that’s right, folks, blindfolded! My seven-year-old held up his hands and shouted “yes” on that act.

But the act that made the evening worthwhile for me was Jeff Hobson. Known as The Trickster, Hobson played host for the festivities and kept me laughing the whole time. A mix of Shakespeare’s Puck, vintage Vegas, and the witty Paul Lynde, Hobson performs lively tricks while keeping you in stitches. The man lives up to his name.

The Illusionists - Live on Broadway will take you back to that moment of wonder the first trick you witnessed brought you. Ages 1 to 92 will find this show a wonderful experience. Take your family, take your friends, but take part in this show and feel like a kid again.

The Illusionists - Live on Broadway at Popejoy Hall

Final performances:

Fri, May 5, 2017 8:00 pm

Sat, May 6, 2017 2:00 pm

Sat, May 6, 2017 8:00 pm

Sun, May 7, 2017 1:00 pm

Sun, May 7, 2017 6:30 pm

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