BWW Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS Return To Broadway With MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS
If there's such a thing as subtlety in the world of The Illusionists, that band of touring magicians that have frequently been making Broadway their winter home, it's evident in their latest visit, titled MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS.
Gone are the sexy dramatics of their stint from a few years ago and the vaudevillian charm of their last Broadway appearance, back in '16. This year director Neil Dorward's production takes on a straightforward approach, allowing each performer to inject their own personality into the proceedings without contributing to an overall theme. As always, there's a great deal of volunteer audience participation involved, even if it's just to have someone sitting up close to the performers to vouch for their sleight of hand's validity, and video screens give everyone in the house a close-up view of the action.
As usual, each Illusionist is granted an official title, though not always tied into the content of their acts. Your host for the evening, Adam Trent, is known as The Futurist, though his specialty seems to be chatting up audience members with a friendly sense of humor. Be aware that if you hand him your iPhone it may wind up someplace you'd rather it wasn't.
His talents also include popping in and out of video screen images of himself and running around the audience with a basket-like contraption on his head so that patrons can throw crumpled up pieces of paper inside. It's silly, but he pulls it off with genuine charm.
Fast-talking Colin Cloud, a/k/a The Deductionist uses his talents to determine which audience member is holding a volunteer's engagement ring and uses seemingly random bits of personal information obtained from viewers to reach impressive conclusions. His smarmy sense of humor is entertaining, though we can do without the Nazi joke.
Chloé Crawford, The Sorceress, invites an audience member to watch up close as she seemingly swallows several razor blades. Darcy Oake, The Grand Illusionist, makes birds appear from flames of fire (eventually graduating to larger items) and a Ukrainian troupe called Light Balance dances hip-hop while dressed in neon.
The featured performer of the evening, dubbed The Manipulator, is Shin Lim, who is introduced with a video showing him winning the 2018 championship of the TV show "America's Got Talent." The soft-spoken Lim brings fine physical elegance to his skills for making playing cards seem to disappear, reappear and change face.
While it's fair to say The Illusionists - Magic of the Holidays doesn't hit a great many gasp-worthy moments, the skills of the performers are certainly quite amazing, making for a pleasant family diversion to warm up the winter months.