BWW Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS Return to Broadway With MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS
"Don't worry, you can laugh. Your children don't get the jokes," the wise guy British comic Paul Dabeck, a/k/a The Trickster glibly remarks after a slightly naughty comment as he hosts THE ILLUSIONISTS: MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS.
This is the fifth Broadway appearance for the traveling troupe of magical artists, neatly packaged in shows that emphasize their contrasting show-biz personalities as much as their varied feats of slight-of-hand, deception and illusion.
While some of their past productions have been more elaborate and thematic, this simpler edition is still a charming variety show that's an all-ages treat.
The very funny Dabek is a first-class entertainer, adept at having fun with audience volunteers. In the first act he devises a clever test of strength that pits parent against child (guess who wins) and he begins the second act with an intricate, full length drama of a card trick with a baffling finish. He even makes shadow puppets a comical lark.
Donning red suspenders and an endearingly dorky attitude, Chris Cox (The Mentalist) claims to establish a super-sensory connection with audience members (once in a pretty revolting way) to successfully name their occupations, places of residence and other personal facts.
Laid back Australian Dom Chambers (The Showman) is the kind of guy you'd enjoy having a beer with, and he makes it easy by seeming to make and endless supply of full glasses of the foamy beverage appear from out of a small paper bag. He also plays straight for Siri in a kooky routine.
Frenchman Enzo Wenye (The Unforgettable) performs a variation of the classic routine that seems to detach the body of his assistant, while Kevin James (The Inventor), with ensemble members acting as factory workers, seems to form flesh and blood humans out of artificial body parts. James also has quieter moments with children in the audience, where he makes a flower and a snowstorm appear out of paper napkins.
Eric Chien, from Taiwan silently goes about the business of making playing cards appear to change color before our eyes. Like many of the other acts, a hand-held camera gives the audience a large-screen view of the proceedings.