Friday, January 20, 2017

reviews - THE ILLUSIONISTS - National tour: ASU Gammage

Kevin James (left)
photo by Martha Swope
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 22nd.

"...Perhaps the best way to describe The Illusionists is to think of a Vegas style production with some Broadway sensibilities. The electronic music pulsates, the light show dazzles, the dancer/assistants attract...and the tricks truly stun. If there’s anything you’ll be asking yourself at the conclusion of each individual act it’ll be, “How’d they do that?” It’s something you’ll be asking from the outset to the conclusion. The cast are made up of seven highly skilled performers...A large screen hangs center upon which everything you see live below can be seen in close-up above on the screen. It helps a lot, particularly in one charming segment involving The Inventor (Kevin James), a little girl from the audience, and a floating paper rose. ...each and everyone of the performances are truly remarkable. ...The Escapologist (Andrew Basso) who has a minute to escape a watery death, The Daredevil (Jonathan Goodwin) who lies on a bed of nails (consisting of one nail!), The Deductionist (Colin Cloud) who’ll be reading your mind, and The Manipulator (An Ha Lim) who remains silent throughout but dazzles with his continually fluid slight-of-hand card tricks. ...the whole show is held together by the continual appearance of The Trickster, a hugely entertaining Jeff Hobson who MC’s, interacts with the audience, and performs tricks of his own. With his ad-libs, his camp asides, and his neatly-coiffed hair, plus a reputation for being known as ‘the host of Las Vegas,’ he’s the magician’s answer to Liberace, and he’s very, very funny." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"The Illusionists: Live from Broadway is part Vegas show, part old-time magic act, with a big dose of the more outrageous and stunning acts from "America's Got Talent." It's also a whole lot of fun. Featuring seven illusionists of all shapes and sizes, most of whom appeared in one or more of the recent Broadway incarnations of this show, the tour comes to Tempe for a week long run through Sunday. The seven performers offer a wide range of magical styles, from mind reading to old-fashioned sleight of hand. The show is fairly well constructed in regard to providing ample time for each of the seven performers, though some have more to do or have more of a lasting impression than others. The best of the bunch is Kevin James who not only provides an updated spin on the classic "woman sawed in half" trick but also offers a truly enchanting moment with a young girl pulled from the audience and a piece of paper that he turns into a dancing tulip. Also impressive is Colin Cloud who offers some mind-bending mind reading tricks that led me, as well as the people sitting behind me, to ask out loud, "how did he do that?"  ...While the show can be considered to be family friendly, two of the tricks that Dan Sperry does, one of which involves placing a quarter inside his eye socket, ratchets up the queasiness factor. Sperry's use of birds that quickly appear and disappear and also change colors in another illusion proves quite magical. ...While there are various shapes and sizes to the tricks, there is the absence of any especially large illusions, so many times audience members must focus on the large TV screen that often hangs over the stage in order to get a better view as the many small illusions unfold. The most intriguing aspect concerning The Illusionists: Live from Broadway is that, with seven performers, even if one performer doesn't quite satisfy or you aren't too taken by the trick, most of the segments only last a few minutes so you won't have to wait long for the next one to appear." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

" The best thing about “The Illusionists: Live From Broadway” is that if any of the seven magic acts sharing the stage isn’t your cup of tea, you won’t have long to wait for a change. Most likely to offend... is Dan Sperry...His freak-show stunts..can make you squirm, but they are also genuinely surprising...Kevin James (“The Inventor”) is a bit less macabre...And the Liberace-esque Jeff Hobson (“The Trickster”) provides comic relief with quick, only slightly risqué wit...If you’ve seen Penn and Teller or Criss Angel in Vegas, “The Illusionists” won’t quite live up to the hype of being a groundbreaking magic show, but it’s definitely entertaining.." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

"...THE ILLUSIONISTS...features seven practitioners of the black arts, each with equally alluring titles ~ the Anti-Conjuror, the Inventor, the Weapon Master, the Deductionist, the Escapologist, the Manipulator, the Daredevil, and the Trickster who doubles as the emcee...smacks more of Vegas than Broadway. It is not that we haven't seen these tricks before and maybe done even better. It is the theatricality and spectacle of the production as a whole...that distinguishes it and makes for a spell-binding experience....The show has it all ~ the mind-boggling mind reading, the head-scratching sawing of a body in half, the awesome pyrotechnics ~ and would not be complete without the nerve-wracking recreation by Andrew Basso of Harry Houdini's escape from the Chinese Water Torture Cell....THE ILLUSIONISTS is a breathtaking and totally fun experience..." -- Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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