The Illusionists BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Vanessa Viana
  • The Illusionists
  • NY TIMES

  • DAILY NEWS

  • TM

  • HR

  • AMNY

Opening Night:
December 4, 2014
Closing:
January 5, 2015

Theater: Marquis Theatre / 1535 Broadway, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

This mind-blowing spectacular showcases the jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth. Full of hilarious magic tricks, death-defying stunts and acts of breathtaking wonder, The Illusionists will dazzle audiences of all ages and make a believer out of you. This critically acclaimed production has shattered box office records across the globe and stunned thousands with some of the most outrageous and miraculous acts ever to be seen on stage. Are you ready to be thrilled, mystified, shocked, delighted and astounded? Are you ready to witness the impossible? The Illusionists is on Broadway for a strictly limited engagement. See it before it disappears.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Illusionists

    Definitely Not Your Uncle Ned’s Parlor Tricks

    Charles Isherwood

    December 4, 2014: Here’s a trick I’d like to see some world-class magician perform: Make the Marriott Marquis Theater, the monolithic hotel that houses it and the monstrous video screen that now wraps around its facade — turning an ugly building even uglier — disappear. And then keep waving that wand and bring back the five Broadway theaters that were demolished when this Times Square eyesore was built. Should this feat take place imminently, gone, too, would be The Illusionists, an overproduced and overblown magic show featuring seven talented tricksters drowning in a sea of cheese. Magic acts, it seems to me, are best served like a nice dry martini, straight up. (As was the case with the charming, frill-free show Nothing to Hide, which played Off Broadway last December.) That’s not the theory behind this bombast-riddled production directed and choreographed by Neil Dorward, which opened Thursday night. It seems to have been designed along the lines of television contest shows like The Voice and America’s Got Talent, with all sorts of trumped-up glitz attempting to feed the excitement. We get continuous blasts of thunderous, supposedly suspense-enhancing music played onstage by a band. In addition to the magicians themselves, a chorus of assistants slinks around in gothic attire attempting to look sexy, or menacing, or something. There are laser beams, digital video screens and more. All this serves not to enhance the brilliance of the feats being performed but to distract from it. In fact, all the fancy stagecraft surrounding the acts makes the tricks themselves seem less impressive. A giant screen that hangs above the stage, offering us a close-up view of the sleight of hand, tends to grab your attention. Everyone knows that watching a magic act on television instead of live robs it of much of its allure. The simpler feats performed in “The Illusionists” are the most impressive.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF The Illusionists

    Holiday magic spectacle brings seven master magicians to Broadway

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    December 4, 2014: In town for the holidays, The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible brings presto chango to Broadway in a light family-friendly entertainment that’s part “Gee whiz!” and part Cheez Whiz. Fortunately, jaw-dropping trickery trumps the eye-rolling Las Vegas vibe that fills the air, along with haze, strobe effects and eardrum-thumping music by the onstage band. Packaging is the name of the game here. This show, which has toured extensively, features seven star magicians, including ones you may recognize from TV talent shows and YouTube. As a group, they’re promoted as “the Avengers of Magic.” Those comic-book superheroes merged their special powers to become greater than the sum of their parts. The Illusionists, not so much. They tend to go it alone, and the show unfolds as a hodgepodge.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Illusionists

    Seven of the world's greatest magicians are spending the holiday season on Broadway

    David Gordon

    December 4, 2014: It's safe to say that Broadway isn't what it used to be. Truly original musicals are harder to come by since the advent of the jukebox formula. Revivals of time-tested classics have virtually replaced daring new plays. No, the Broadway of yesteryear is nothing like the Broadway of today. Which is why The Illusionists — Witness the Impossible, now at the Marquis Theatre for a holiday season run, is so fascinating. The Illusionists, you see, is a throwback to the bygone days of vaudeville, the dominant form of theatrical entertainment at the turn of the last century. Instead of jugglers, tap dancers, singers, and ventriloquists, here we have seven of the contemporary era's best, well, illusionists. When they say these guys are the best in their very specific fields, they truly are, combining an extraordinary amount of showmanship with actual expertise to create thoroughly enjoyable results. Take Andrew Basso, an Italian-born escapologist. Basso risks his life nightly to perform the Houdini-created Water Torture Cell. He is handcuffed and manacled, placed inside what's essentially a padlocked fish tank, and must unlock himself and escape while holding his breath. Of course, despite the ominous music (performed live on stage by a band called Z), Basso performs the trick with the greatest of ease. It's a scary-intense thing to watch, especially for the claustrophobics among us. The sweat drips down our backs, though he emerges without a single bead of perspiration anywhere on his body.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF The Illusionists

    Vegas comes to Broadway in this touring magic-act showcase, which assembles seven flamboyant illusionists of various styles

    Frank Scheck

    December 4, 2014: Magic for limited 21st century attention spans is the defining aspect of The Illusionists — Witness the Impossible, the assemblage of seven magicians now performing on Broadway prior to a 30-city U.S. tour. Gussying up its familiar tricks with high-class production values reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil, this show, while seemingly made for Vegas casinos, has the feel of a Fox television special. However, unlike that network's controversial '90s-era magic specials the secrets are not revealed. The Illusionists grossed an impressive million dollars-plus during its Thanksgiving opening week. It features a murderer's row of magicians, all given colorful nicknames. The Italian Andrew Basso is "The Escapologist," no explanation necessary; South Korean Yu Ho-Jin is "The Manipulator," performing elegant sleight of hand; the Belgian Aaron Crow is "The Warrior," specializing in "weapon magic"; the avuncular Kevin James is "The Inventor"; and Dan Sperry, the best-known of the bunch thanks to his appearance on America's Got Talent, is the goth-like "Anti-Conjurer." Adam Trent, "The Futurist," acts as the evening's de facto emcee, while Jeff Hobson, the campy, "Trickster," provides welcome comic relief. Performing with an onstage rock band dubbed "Z" and several flamboyantly dressed back-up dancers, the septet deliver the standard range of illusions, most of which are decidedly of the small-scale variety. Indeed, audience members will inevitably find themselves spending much of the time watching the giant video screen on which close-ups of the tricks, filmed by a roving cameraman, are projected.

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  • AM NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Illusionists

    'Illusionists' brings cheesy thrills

    Matt Windman

    December 4, 2014: Broadway’s Marquis Theatre, which in recent years has housed Vegas-style shows for limited holiday-time runs such as Donnie & Marie and Il Divo, is now playing host to The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible, where an ensemble of seven male magicians performs sleight of hand tricks and physical stunts over the course of two hours. The Broadway engagement is part of a 30-city national tour which commenced last month and continues through next year. While the special effects are certainly impressive in a “how’d he do that?” sort of way, The Illusionists is further amplified with live electronic music, light patter, audience participation, plenty of smoke and a large and looming television screen above the performers on which they are being simultaneously filmed. Each of the magicians has his own title and personality profile. Take, for instance, Dan Sperry, who is known as “The Anti-Conjuror” and is described in a press release as “Marilyn Manson meets David Copperfield,” as seen in his gothic attire. There’s also “The Manipulator,” “The Futurist” and “The Escapologist,” among others.

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