THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE opened it’s only Northern California run on Tuesday night through Broadway San Jose. Magic shows and Broadway do not necessarily go together, but apparently they had a 2 week run on Broadway last year, and as such, it qualifies. As usual, I will be honest by saying that I already knew I would be disappointed before the show even started. This is not the 1920’s when people actually believed magic existed. The skeptic in me spends the whole time trying to figure out how it is done…and frankly, I find most magicians to be a little creepy. Well, not all magicians. This guy is cool. But, I digress.
Back to my aforementioned skepticism about the show. I grabbed my friend Shannon as my +1 because in a previous life she was a blade box girl for a magic show in New York. Who better to see a magic show with, than someone who has actually been in magic shows? To my delight, she was equally skeptical.
We grabbed a drink before sitting down because, really, you need a drink for a magic show that features a “scientist”, an emo guy who looks like Marilyn Manson meets David Copperfield and a handful of other “characters”. Don’t even get me started on the back up dancers and the midget.
To top it all off, the show opened with an “Are you Ready San Jooooossseeeeee?”
I know it is technically Broadway San Jose, but it was really feeling a lot more like Vegas San Jose.
Given everything above, what I write next may shock you. Just like the illusions themselves, everything is not always as it appears. Once we got past the Vegas style opening number and dived into the magic, I was hooked in loving every minute of the show. I repeat, I loved this show.
Right from the start, The Futurist (Adam Trent) dazzles the audience with an “I know how he did it, but I don’t care because it was so well done” trick. Even Shannon was impressed with how well it was executed.
Next up was the hysterically funny Jeff Hobson (the Trickster). I won’t give away the jokes, but I will say that I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Oh, and I need to find a way to make this man my BFF. I am still laughing.
For over 2 hours we were entertained. Dan Sperry, the Anti-Conjuror (aka Marilyn Manson-Copperfield) completely won me over. It took me a minute to get over the runny joker face paint and greasy hair, but then it all clicked. His illusions are gory, and funny and impressive to see. He is a rock star magician. I am now a fan.
Andrew Basso (The Escapologist) performs the only Houdini to ever be done without a curtain. He was handcuffed, shackled by his ankles and dunked into a tank of water while upside down. I held my breath and I was on the edge of my seat. The last thing I needed to see this night was a perfectly beautiful Italian man in a bathing suit drown before my eyes. His escape was amazing and spectacular and definitely more intense than I ever expected before sitting down.
Aaron Crow (The Warrior) and Kevin James (The Inventor) both wowed the crowd with their respective tricks before the show winded down with Magician of the Year Yu Ho-Jin (The Manipulator). On the surface, you might describe his performance as a series of card tricks or slight of hand, but watching him was so mesmerizingly beautiful in its simplicity that you could not help but be entranced by the fluid motion of his every movement. He is truly a master of his craft.
Magic tricks aside, the show is much more than a series of tricks. It’s like magic on steroids with the big screen projections, laser lights, smoke machines and dazzling dancers.
Still, the greatest magic trick of all is the fact that these guys completely won over this skeptical show reviewer. The cast of THE ILLUSIONISTS managed to turn everything cliché about magic in one of the most entertaining and mind boggling shows I may ever see.
If you love magic, this show is a must see. Even if you don’t care about magic, try to see this show. At a minimum, you will be entertained and who knows, you may walk away a fan.
The Illusionists is showing now through June 14th, 2015 at the Center for Performing Arts (255 Almaden Blvd.). Tickets for the ILLUSIONISTS are available now by visiting www.ticketmaster.com or calling 800-982-ARTS (2787). The San Jose engagement of THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE is presented by Broadway San Jose, a Nederlander Presentation, please visit www.broadwaysanjose.com