REVIEW: The Illusionists

The Illusionists is the best selling magic show in Broadway history and you can see it now in St. Paul! This show is high budget and full of theatrics to please anyone looking for a special night out.  What’s great about The Illusionists is you get to see seven different illusionists do what they do best.  There is no filler.

My favorite performer was Kevin James as The Inventor.  I’d call him more of a mad scientist but that’s semantics.  He was a delightful character and did some amazing things with cutting people in half and making inanimate objects move on their own and float through the air. His finale piece made my jaw drop and put a huge smile on my face. I was in awe. I wont spoil it for those of you who want to see the show.

The show also features Yu Ho-Jin, The Manipulator. This fella just happened to be named the Best Magician of the Year for 2014 by the Academy of Magical Arts and has also been named the Grand Prix Winner in stage magic at the Federation Internationale des Societes Magiques (the Olympics of magic).  So yeah, he’s good.  He can do things with cards that will make you believe that you’re watching a CGI movie.  You’ll have to keep reminding yourself that it’s not because your brain will have a hard time processing what you’re seeing otherwise.

I also really enjoyed Aaron Crow, The Warrior.  He did something that would make our local favorite, The Danger Committee, bow down in appreciation.  I won’t spoil it for you.  You’ll just have to see it yourself.  I’m even concerned about describing it properly because my mind is still trying to process if he actually did what it appeared he did or if it was all an illusion.  I have no idea how he could fake such a feat but at the same time, it seems impossible.

One disappointment was The Escapologist, Andrew Basso.  His performance involved having to escape from multiple locks while being submerged upside-down in cold water.  I do believe this is a difficult feat that is in fact dangerous.  Andrew is undoubtedly talented but unfortunately, he’s living in a world with David Blaine.  This is a feat performed for almost a century and has also been “topped” by others.  This reality diminishes the shock value.  To build excitement, Andrew appears to have some trouble throughout the act.  I expected this much but he lost me when close to the end of the act, he drew his finger across his neck as if to signal he was in distress and needed to be rescued. Not a soul in the crowd gasped, no one faked coming to his aid (not even the camera man 3 feet away filming his face). It’s one thing to fool the crowd, that’s what we expect.  But do not insult our intelligence.  Perhaps this act was mostly for the kids, who are oblivious to insurance, lawsuits and a producer’s need for consistency and reliability.

Jeff Hobson (The Trickster), Adam Trent (The Futurist) and Dan Sperry (The Anti-Conjurer/Marilyn Manson’s quirky twin brother – no not really) rounded off the cast with everything from shock value to teleportation to slight of hand.

If you’re worried about whether or not it’s worth getting tickets to this show unless you have great seats up close, I can assure you that’s not necessary.  All of the performance is filmed and displayed on a big screen on the stage.  I will testify that it’s fantastic to sit close to the stage, however, as you’ll better experience one of the finale pieces in which the atmosphere of The Ordway is transformed, in the most magical way.

Sadly, the deal for 30% off tickets has expired. Student/Educator rush tickets may be available. Click here for more information.

The Illusionists is at The Ordway through March 29, 2015.  Tickets start at $33.

Photo by Joan Marcus.