REVIEW: The Illusionists – Live from Broadway

I love magic, I always have.  So when this year’s Broadway Across America season was announced and THE ILLUSIONISTS – LIVE FROM BROADWAY was in the lineup, I was excited.  And now that I’m home from seeing it, I’m too excited to sleep.  People need to go watch these talented illusionists display their craft.  It’s a remarkable production.

Featuring seven performers, all with very different styles, THE ILLUSIONISTS features daredevil stunts, mesmerizing tricks, fascinating mentalism, fast and furious slight of hand, and a good dose of comedy.  The two and a half hours flew by and the audience all seemed to be having a wonderful time.  Especially the audience volunteers, most of whom were reluctant.  It’s a night that I doubt any of them will ever forget.

Starting with the hilarious “Trickster” (Jeff Hobson) who pulled up local improv artist Kirk Keevert on stage. (Keevert just happened to be in the audience watching, it was not a setup.)  Hobson’s blend of comedy and close up magic delighted throughout the night.  Then we saw bits from America’s Got Talent veterans like Kevin James (“The Inventor”) and Dan Sperry (“The Anti-Conjuror).  One of the most impressive visual effects came from South Korea’s An Ha Lim (“The Manipulator”).  There was Houdini-like escape from Andrew Basso (“The Escapologist”) and crossbow proficiency from Jonathon Goodwin (“The Daredevil”).

For me, though, the most intriguing work came from mentalist Colin Cloud (“The Deductionist”) who somehow was able to read the minds of various audience members and pulled off some very impressive feats of trickery and real mind-reading.

The production uses video cameras so you can see from a distance and is very interactive.  There’s as much comedy as there is magic and it all works very well.  I highly recommend this show for anyone who wants to be entertained and delighted. It’s not heavy drama; I needed something different tonight.  I’m grateful I got it.

THE ILLUSIONISTS – LIVE FROM BROADWAY runs through Sunday at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in downtown Cincinnati.  Click here for more information.