Are you ready to witness the next generation of magic? Forget card tricks as you know them, and illusions as you’ve come to see them…or not see them…as the case may be. Returning to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, direct from Broadway with a whole new routine and series of new magicians, The Illusionists will razzle you, dazzle you, and perform mind-blowing defeats of magic that simply must be seen to be believed! Playing live in The Eisenhower Theatre of the multi-staged performance venue in the heart of the nation’s capital, this magical show is thrilling, to spectacular for words! Running through the 2018 new year, this magic will disappear before you know it— so don’t miss your chance to see wondrous illusions performed by this team of master mind-bogglers!
Featuring five fantastic and fabulous masters of the illusion, The Illusionists: Live From Broadway comes together under the keen Direction and Creative Production of Neil Dorward. With a team of insightful creatives— including Illusion Designer Don Wayne, Illusion Director Mark Kalin, Lighting Designer Paul Smith, and most importantly Composer Evan Jolly (with additional compositions by Eddie Cole and Dustin Moore)— the atmosphere crackles and shimmers with the ephemeral mastery we call magic. It’s enchanting; Smith’s light work juxtaposed against the illusions and the illusionists, all whilst being underscored thematically by Jolly’s compositions to create the ultimate magic viewing experience!
Though their arrival is an astonishing one— let’s make the magicians appear en masse into a glass box from nowhere— there are a few technical hiccups at this performance that were ever so slightly off-putting to a true connoisseur of magic. Timing and placement is critical for illusions of magic to work flawlessly and the show on the whole hit them on the head about 94% of the time. (The show’s pre-finale, which features The Inventor Kevin James spinning a heartwarming tale into a clever magic trick had a case of ‘trigger happy’ technical malfunction, and the special effect that accompanied his magical wonder was released before he’d completed the trick, which was devastating to those watching, though still pretty impressive to see the final image all composed as such.) These minor hiccups aside, which no doubt do not recur with any great rate, the show is geared towards families and will inspire a most keen fascination of magic in attendees of all ages!
The Weapon Master
Ben Blaque, appearing in shades of gothic and morbid that are appropriate for the level of deadly weapons with which he deals, is the outlier among the magicians. While the stunts he performs are indeed breathtaking, they are far more skill than magic. It is impressive to watch his blindfolded arrow shooting stunt, but again these tricks err more on the side of side-show spectacle rather than magical chicanery. But this is perfectly acceptable as his showmanship is second to none in the performance and he’s able to successfully achieve each of his attempts on the first go. Blaque possesses an air of mystique about him, engaging the audience in his craft to the point where you almost don’t notice— and certainly don’t mind that the incredibly dangerous feats he’s performing aren’t magic at all.
As his name suggests, Florian Sainvet is able to manipulate all sorts of visual spectacle right before your very eyes! Dressed like a futuristic terminator for his first appearance, Sainvet utilizes sleight of hand heavily in his practices, transforming glowing disks and making them appear from nowhere only to disappear again. Presenting the show’s ultimate finale, with a very impressive card-trick that also heavily relies on sleight of hand, Sainvet, though of few words, leaves a lasting impression on the audience with his clever illusions.
Everyone loves the idea of Harry Houdini and his many death-defying escape tricks! The Illusionists are no exception and have their very own escape artist— Krendl— who attempts the death-defying feat of escape not once but twice over the course of the evening. Impressing the audiences, whose audible gasps and shouts of glee and amazement when he achieves success are most impressive, with his daring attempt to survive the Water Torture Chamber is a nod of homage to the great master escape artist who came before him. The spectacle of the water tank, watching him be bound and lowered, and almost plunged perilously to certain death, is electrifying. The secondary escape trick, featured in the second act of the evening’s show, is equally terrifying, complete with plummeting swords of doom and destruction. Half of the crowd’s eager anticipation is watching on the edge-of-the-seat to see if Krendl will actually escape the terrifying treachery in which he’s ensconced himself; these death-defying acts are an art of magic in their own right simply because of the adrenaline rush surging forth directly into the audience.
Fiendishly clever, this master of innovative illusion— Kevin James, The Inventor— is inventing positively diabolical illusions in his first go-round in the laboratory. James presents two different sides to his personality: the scary mad-scientist sort— who does things like taking disembodied heads and attaches them to little torsos to create live human beings or severs live human beings and then reattaches them— and the convivial childhood entertainer, who invites youngsters in the audience to witness and participate first-hand in his anecdotal tricks. While James’ mad-scientist illusions rely heavily on the spectacle and atmospheric creation provided by the creative team, and assisted by a full team of “Magician’s Assistants” (Antonio Hoyos, Claudia James, Meredith Madden, Stephanie Potteiger, De’Niko Maurice Welch), and are quite dazlious to behold, there is an earnest simplicity to both the coin, bottle, and snow-tricks he performs for the younger members of the audience, inviting everyone to rekindle the connection with the first time they experienced magic.
The future of magic is being held in the hands of Adam Trent aka The Futurist. A complete showman, with all of the crowd-pleasing and crowd-moving talents, Trent doubles up as the show’s host and narrative guide. Fully engaged with the audience, often out among the attendees— including before the show even starts among the patrons of the lobby— Trent takes the magical experience to the next level. Combining digital arts with illusion, he shows us the true magic of the future, in addition to all of the fantastical spectacle-laden tricks you expect from a top quality magician.
There’s a plethora of magical things happening on the stage, a great experience for audience members of all ages, but especially for those who might be experiencing magic for the first time! The Illusionists: Live from Broadway is an extraordinary show to behold and will thrill everyone in attendance. But as I’ve already stated, catch it quick, as this magic will disappear faster than you can say Abracadabra come the new year!
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours 20 minutes with one intermission
The Illusionists play through January 7, 2018 2017 in the Eisenhower Theatre of The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts— 2700 F Street NW in Washington, DC. For tickets call the box office at (202) 467-4600 or purchase them online.