BWW Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS--LIVE FROM BROADWAY at Providence Performing Arts Center

BWW Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS--LIVE FROM BROADWAY at Providence Performing Arts Center

If you hurry, you still have time to get over to the Providence Performing Arts Center to catch THE ILLUSIONISTS-LIVE FROM BROADWAY. Most touring shows do not have the Broadway cast, but this one does. It blends very funny comedy with jaw-dropping feats of magic and/or derring-do. My wife and I walked out asking each other, "How did they do that," and, as Butch said to Sundance, "Who are those guys?" There were five of them and three assistants, and they took turns stopping our thought processes cold. I am going to take them in order of enjoyment.

First of all, Jeff Hobson, called in this show "The Trickster." Think of him as the Liberace of Magic! His act combines a seemingly effortless line of patter, hilarious audience participation, and stunning moments of shock inducing illusion. How did he get the woman from Cranston to materialize that egg, and when did he take her watch? He was a stitch with a roll of toilet paper and a randomly recruited audience member. Hobson is one entertaining dude.

Tied for first was Scottish born Colin Cloud, "the Deductionist," whom we found just as entertaining as Hobson (a little less funny, a little more mind-blowing). This guy again combined lines of entertaining patter with incomprehensible feats of seeming clairvoyance. At on point he engages several audience members at once as he divines their names, birthdates, first pets' names, mothers' maiden names, social security numbers-Hey, wait a minute! No one really had to surrender her bank account, but all of us had to admit we were stumped.

In third place, slightly behind those two, Kevin James, "the Inventor," came up with what were for the most part elaborate tricks involving the disassembly and reassembly of various assistants. He was less verbally skilled than Hobson or Cloud, and his feats of prestiditation slightly less impressive. Well, his indoor snow squall was pretty good, and he had a lovely moment with a little girl, turning a paper flower to a real one before her wondering eyes. Nice.

Fourth place goes to Britisher Jonnathan Goodwin, "the Daredevil," who is not so much a magician as a combination escape artist, trick shot artist, and mind-over-matter master. He wasn't as funny as the Hobson or Cloud and maybe it was my vantage point, but his tricks left me a little cold. Well, the trick shots with the crossbow were pretty impressive.

Korean born An Han Lim, "the Manipulator," brings up the rear, mostly because he had the least to do. His unbelievable card tricks were something to behold, but for most of the house were probably best beheld on the monitor above the stage. His act was fun but limited. On the other hand, if he ever partners with cloud in Vegas, they could own several casinos.

THE ILLUSIONISTS -LIVE FROM BROADWAY plays at PPAC tonight at 8:00 and tomorrow at 1:00 and 6:30. Running time is two hours and fifteen minutes including intermission. Tickets run from $39 -86 and can be purchased by calling 401 421 2997 or online at www.ppacri.org. The theater and restrooms are handicapped accessible. I was going to say something hokey like get them before they disappear but decided against it.

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From This Author Larry O'Brien

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