Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS, Magic Packaged Boy Band Style

By: Dec. 03, 2015
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There's a bit of a boy band sensibility that goes with the packaging of the seven artists that make up The Illusionists, now making a return to Broadway's holiday season after a successful stint land year.

Raymond Crowe, Dan Sperry, James More, Jeff Hobson,
Jonathan Goodman, Adam Trent and Yu Ho-Jin

While the septet never performs together, they all have their unifying nicknames and make their entrance in a dramatic pose that emphasizes various degrees of sexiness and individual style. It's easy to visually point out, "the bad boy," "the goth one," "the cute one" and "the funny one."

Director Neil Dorward's production has the guys supported by musicians situated in the Neil Simon Theatre's boxes and an ensemble of dancers that push the sexy dramatics of the proceedings and lend occasional assistance. Each contrasting Illusionist claims a bit of the fun and entertaining two-act production.

Our emcee for the evening is Jeff Hobson, a/k/a, The Trickster. With a glitzy wardrobe and a sardonic sense of campiness - kind of a cross between Liberace and young Steve Martin - this is the guy who pulls people out of the audience for a card trick or a disappearing egg routine.

Dan Sperry, the goth one known as The Anti-Conjuror, swallows razor blades and regurgitates them and inserts a quarter into his eye socket and pulls it out by cutting open his arm. Showing his softer side, he makes doves appear and disappear.

James More, the Deceptionist, balances himself on a spike, with a kicker finish, and then locks himself into a chamber to show off a bit of body contortioning.

James More

Jonathan Goodwin is dubbed The Daredevil for escaping from a straitjacket while hanging upside-down and lit on fire, but his wife Katy Goodwin, is a risk-taker herself, holding up balloons that hubby bursts with crossbow arrows.

As The Unusualist, Raymond Crowe performs a charming shadow-puppet routine. Adam Trent, The Futurist," interacts with video images of himself and Yu Ho-Jin, The Manipulator, silently performs graceful sleight-of-hand card tricks.

While each Illusionist is entertaining in his own way, the loud and bombastic production tends to get in the way of the performances rather than enhance them. You may find yourself smirking at the cheesiness of it all as much as gasping at the wonder of it all.



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