Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS at Opera House/Kennedy Center

The sleight's anything but slight through April 28

By: Apr. 25, 2024
Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS at Opera House/Kennedy Center
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Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, The Illusionists brings the fun of magic and the magic of fun at a time when a little voluntary, recreational misdirection sounds like a great idea. Indeed, through the magic of a big screen and a little camera, The Illusionists have solved the problem of how to do card tricks for an audience of 2500--the smallest moves of The Manipulator (Hyunjoon Kim) can be seen from every seat--just don't expect to see how he does it.

All five performers use audience members for parts of their illusions. Chris Cox (The Mentalist) does the most verbal work in the show. His ability to figure out what people think (and their birthdays too!) is stunning. Pablo Cánovas (The Unforgettable) specializes in escaping from things, but he's also added a cellphone illusion to the game. The Inventor (Kevin James) and The Trickster (David Williamson) often interact with children. And this is fun to watch (and hard to do) because the kids are just going to be kids, so James and Williamson have to make magic and improvise at the same time. The Trickster has a lengthy segment with four youngsters, a metal bucket, a prop raccoon (spoiler; sorry), and a couple of American flags that's lots of fun, but too complicated to describe further. James' gentler style of interacting with the young 'uns has a particular sweetness when he works with one youngster and a piece of paper.

Bring children (7 and up) to see The Illusionists, but not if they are on the spectrum; the excessive volume of the sound effects and the incessant shining of stage lights into the audience's eyes are not suitable for those who are sensory-sensitive. The Kennedy Center has booster seats for your shortest children; come early enough to check on that with an usher (and also to write your sealed envelope for The Mentalist's bit). And in addition to a website, Kennedy Center Instant Charge (202.467.4600) telephone staff can answer questions about whether Specially Priced Tickets are available for students (and seniors). The show lasts two hours and 10 minutes.

(Photo of Kevin James courtesy of The Illusionists)


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