Review Roundup: THE ILLUSIONISTS - WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!
The Illusionists - Witness The Impossible, the world's best-selling touring magic show, makes its Broadway debut tonight, December 4.
Conceived by Simon Painter, the show's creative team includes executive producer Tim Lawson, director Neil Dorward and creative director Jim Millan. The seven stars, each a master in their own field, are: The Manipulator, Yu Ho-Jin; The Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry; The Trickster, Jeff Hobson; The Escapologist, Andrew Basso; The Inventor, Kevin James; The Warrior, Aaron Crow; and The Futurist, Adam Trent.
This mind-blowing spectacular showcases the jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth. Full of hilarious magic tricks, death-defying stunts and acts of breathtaking wonder, The Illusionists - Witness The Impossible has dazzled audiences of all ages.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: Here's a trick I'd like to see some world-class magician perform: Make the Marriott Marquis Theater, the monolithic hotel that houses it and the monstrous video screen that now wraps around its facade -- turning an ugly building even uglier -- disappear. And then keep waving that wand and bring back the five Broadway theaters that were demolished when this Times Square eyesore was built. Should this feat take place imminently, gone, too, would be "The Illusionists," an overproduced and overblown magic show featuring seven talented tricksters drowning in a sea of cheese. Magic acts, it seems to me, are best served like a nice dry martini, straight up...That's not the theory behind this bombast-riddled production...All this serves not to enhance the brilliance of the feats being performed but to distract from it...The simpler feats performed in "The Illusionists" are the most impressive.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Magic for limited 21st century attention spans is the defining aspect of The Illusionists -- Witness the Impossible...Gussying up its familiar tricks with high-class production values reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil, this show, while seemingly made for Vegas casinos, has the feel of a Fox television special. However, unlike that network's controversial '90s-era magic specials the secrets are not revealed...Performing with an onstage rock band dubbed "Z" and several flamboyantly dressed back-up dancers, the septet deliver the standard range of illusions, most of which are decidedly of the small-scale variety. Indeed, audience members will inevitably find themselves spending much of the time watching the giant video screen on which close-ups of the tricks, filmed by a roving cameraman, are projected. To call the evening a mixed bag is an understatement. For every reasonably effective illusion, there's another that lands with a thud.
Steve Parks, Newsday: Who says there's no magic on Broadway? "The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible" uses deceit right in the title. The tricks -- mostly one-offs from magic we've witnessed forever -- are not only possible, some give us the illusion that we've figured out how they're done. But what these "Illusionists" lack in originality, they make up for in style...Director Neil Dorward sets a rapid pace that blurs the prestidigitation to a relentless beat by onstage band Z. We're left with the illusion that we're in Vegas.
Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: In town for the holidays, "The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible" brings presto chango to Broadway in a light family-friendly entertainment that's part "Gee whiz!" and part Cheez Whiz. Fortunately, jaw-dropping trickery trumps the eye-rolling Las Vegas vibe that fills the air, along with haze, strobe effects and eardrum-thumping music by the onstage band...the show unfolds as a hodgepodge. Still, there's plenty of variety as acts range from Goth to goofball.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: "The Illusionists" seems so much like a Vegas revue that you half expect that it comes with an all-you-can eat buffet. And when we say Vegas, we mean something old-school like the Flamingo, not the swanky Bellagio...But behind the too-cool-for-Hogwarts attitude and the funky live band is a conventional family show big on sleights of hand, visual illusions and audience participation. Jeff Hobson's Trickster is the one most likely to pull you up from your seat. So proudly fey that he makes Liberace look butch, Hobson combines the gift of gab and the gift of grab -- the first has you laughing and distracts you from the second. Judging by the way he makes wristwatches disappear, he might be better called the Bamboozler.
Matt Windman, AM New York: While the special effects are certainly impressive in a "how'd he do that?" sort of way, "The Illusionists" is further amplified with live electronic music, light patter, audience participation, plenty of smoke and a large and looming television screen above the performers on which they are being simultaneously filmed...In addition to a Houdini-inspired act one finale where a handcuffed magician escapes from a locked water tank, as well as a body sliced in half, the show is filled mainly with small-scale card tricks, forcing audience members to watch close-ups on the video screen and removing them from the live nature of the event. Although it's unapologetically cheesy and questionably designed, this is likely to thrill magic enthusiasts and many others.
Robert Hofler, The Wrap: First off, there isn't one great illusionist. "The Illusionist" stars seven, and even the very talented Mr. Jackman could not pull off Houdini's most famous stunt -- an escape from a huge water tank -- with the thrilling reality that Andrew Basso (The Escapologist) brings to it..."The Illusionists," directed by Neil Dorward, relies a bit too much on audience participation. But it is a magic show, and sometimes the hoi polloi from Jersey or the Bronx do bring an edge of reality to the tricks...This magic show is perfect for the kids. Better yet, it makes you feel like a kid again.
Check back in the AM for updates!
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus