Chicago Theatre Review
Magic to Do, Just for You!
The Illusionists—Witness the Impossible – Broadway in Chicago
The word “amazing” is so overused these days that it hardly holds any meaning. But for a show that’s, as the dictionary defines the word, “filled with wonder,” this spectacular entertainment playing in downtown Chicago should not be missed. It is, in every sense of the word, amazing.
In a highbred of Cirque du Soleil meets David Copperfield, this astounding show is slick, highly polished and is a well-groomed entertainment for the senses. Audiences might fear they’ll miss some of the slight of hand, seated so far away from the stage. But that’s never the case. With the aid of a couple hand-held cameras, videographers are able to project each and every subtle moment upon a giant plasma screen hovering above the stage. With rich clarity, every single trick can be seen clearly by every audience member. With an amalgamation of thumping, prerecorded techno track tunes and live music performed by an onstage rock band, seven very different, topnotch magicians alternate in providing astounding tricks and slight of hand illusions, very often with the willing assistance from audience members of all ages.
Adam Trent, opens the show as emcee and does a few tricks to kick off the evening. He’s called the Futurist. His greatest magical feats, however, appear later in the second act, in which he appears in front of and inside a surreal, prerecorded video. As he performs, props and characters seems to leap from the screen with polish and ease. It all looks and sounds very Tomorrowland. In the second half of the show, the likable, handsome Mr. Trent selects a youngster from the audience to assist him with a card trick. Little Nick is, I’m sure, still trying to duplicate this feat of magic at own his home with the card Mr. Trent gave him. Blond and bodacious Jeff Hobson is an actor, magician and comedian. His warmth, charm and dexterity with magic is delightful and astounding and he leaves his audience laughing, especially as he picks their pockets. Andrew Basso, the hunky Italian Escapologist, replicates Harry Houdini’s pulse-quickening underwater escape. With help from a policeman in the audience, Mr. Basso is handcuffed, put into a straightjacket, manacled at the ankles and then lowered into a clear, water-filled container that resembles a glass telephone booth. As seconds tick by on an overhead clock the audience holds its collective breath while the gentleman struggles to free himself from a watery grave…all before the eyes of the audience.
The Warrior, Aaron Crow, brings to mind a character from the film “Avatar” and, with the assistance of two audience members, performs an unbelievable trick. With a high-powered bow and arrow that’s a riff on William Tell’s famous feat, Mr. Crow makes clever use of the lady’s engagement ring. Kevin James, the Inventor, performs some subtle coin-inside-the-bottle tricks, with the help of two young audience volunteers; later he returns to saw a man in half and then make it snow, right inside the theatre. Termed the Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry, who looks like he’s channelling Alice Cooper and sounds like the character Beetlejuice, performs a Russian Roulette act with a lovely, willing audience helper. Later he returns to create an astounding display of lightning-paced tricks with live birds and colored balls that has to be seen to be appreciated. And finally, South Korean Manipulator, Yu Ho-Jin, appears twice with his speed-of-light card and scarf tricks that will absolutely boggle the mind.
For audiences searching for something truly different that will entertain, amuse and astound theatergoers of every age, this is the show for them. It’s so polished, so unbelievable and fast-paced, that the word heard most often from the audience is “Wow!” This is a not-to-be-missed production that’s only here in Chicago for a very short time, but it’s the kind of Vegas-style entertainment that will assault your senses and stay in your memories for years to come.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented March 11-22 by Broadway in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago.
Tickets are available at all TicketMaster Outlets, Broadway in Chicago Box Offices, by calling the BIC TicketLine at 800-775-2000 or by going to www.BroadwayInChicago.com.
Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.