BWW Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS at Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall
Coming all the way from the 'Great White Way' to the island of Oahu is the remarkable, magical spectacle The Illusionists Live From Broadway. Comprised of six performers---'The Unusualist' (Raymond Crowe); 'The Trickster' (Paul Dabek); 'The Daredevil' (Jonathan Goodwin); 'The Manipulator' (An Ha Lim); 'The Delusionist' (Stuart MacLeod); 'The Sorceress' (Sabine Van Diemen)---all of whom form the titular 'The Illusionists', each performer has two to three segments on stage to dazzle the audience. Spanning over approximately two hours with one fifteen-minute intermission, the overall performances combined measure up to create an absolutely immersive, scintillating time at the theatre.
The show begins with Dabek as 'The Trickster', who inserts himself within the aisle of the audience, making his way on stage along with two young volunteers to help assist him with a series of small-scale magic tricks, in which is opening monologue of sorts is imbued with jokes and humor in order to get the audience settled into a rhythm. This then leads into all of The Illusionists making their group entrance, with each being presented one by one come time for their magical segment. The opening act and its transition will feel familiar to any one who watches an awards show like The Oscars in an attempt to get the audience galvanized, which, in the case of the sophomore-night audience, worked.
The individual segments of each Illusionist, almost all of whom hail from different countries: Scotland, England, Amsterdam, Australia, and South Korea, range from a variety of mind-blowing routines, such as the standard escape-from-a-box and 'is-this-your-card?' all the way to tricks of larger scale such as wiggling out of a straight jacket while hung upside down in the air before the timer is up with bare traps beneath. However, by far the most entrancing segment is the card spectacle by Lim, who seems to literally make cards appear out of thin air into a flowing rhythm that flaunts various colors and patterns. A segment like this in the show expects the audience to suspend their disbelief, while other segments like the straight-jacket escape keeps the audience on the edge of their seats---literally. There is not a dull performer in the show, all of whom have their own individuality and unique way to keep the audience engaged, whether through physical mannerisms, dry humor, or larger-than-life facial expressions.
Hawaii has received many spectacular touring shows within the last ten years---Mamma Mia!, Wicked, The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Phantom of the Opera---and while The Illusionists is not the typical Broadway fanfare that's been presented, it certainly is a welcome addition to the islands. It is so full of energy and delightful performances that will certainly keep audiences engaged for a large portion---if not all---of the show. The run here in on the islands was brief, so if you blinked you missed it, as it ran from October 23-27. However, if you are enticed by the touring shows that have arrived recently, be sure to gear up for Rent: December 24-29!