The Illusionists – Turn of the Century

The current magic show on Broadway is an extension of The Illusionists franchise which has done two previous holiday season shows when short term theaters become available and also has an active touring presence.  The premise is that you will get to see a handful of different magical styles in an evening doing everything from escapes to mentalism to children magic to you name it.  This has proved a popular format perhaps due to a lack of dominant magical personalities today or perhaps a reflection of our splintered attention span in today’s world.

Not only have I seen and spoken with some great magic personalities of the last few decades (Harry Blackstone Jr., David Copperfield, Penn & Teller) but I still perform a bit of magic myself when I host evenings of new plays at Polaris North.  I started performing magic when I was an actor and preferred other stage gigs to waiting tables.  While these Illusionists shows have a sheen and feel of something new, I have news for you folks.  Pretty much every concept in magic was included in a collection of 8 books called the Tarbell Course in Magic that was written between the 1930’s and 1960’s.  It is a great addition to my library.  All the “new” acts and tricks are taken from those principles and wrapped in a shiny new dressing.

I did not see the previous two Broadway incarnations of this show but heard they were loud and aggressive.  Because they have themed this for the turn of the century (the last century in the golden age of magic) it is more restrained and stylish.  It is pretty darn good and lots of fun to watch.  Pamela finally had to tell me to stop showing her how it was done so she could just sit back and enjoy the wonder.  Highly recommended and good for all ages.  See it if it tours near you, which it likely will eventually.


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