Now you see them…

Now you see them…

Broadway’s smash hit The Illusionists opens in South Africa this month. By Jade Taylor Cooke

‘Brain-bendingly spectacular’ is how a critic from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph describes The Illusionists. ‘Magic’s Cirque du Soleil,’ announces The Times of London. ‘A high-tech magic extravaganza,’ says The New York Times.

Rave reviews indeed. It comes as no surprise then, that The Illusionists is the bestselling magic show in Broadway history. And it’s not just in that hallowed theatrical district of the US that it’s been such a success. From the West End of London to Melbourne, Moscow and Mexico, the show is filling arenas, astonishing audiences and racking up record box-office takings.

Now, it’s headed to Cape Town and Jozi. ‘Everyone at The Illusionists is thrilled to be coming to South Africa,’ says creative producer Simon Painter. ‘2017 proved to be an amazing year for the production and we are excited to keep that momentum going.’

This is no ‘pick a card, any card’ genre of magic show. You won’t have to endure never-ending handkerchiefs being ‘comically’ extricated from anyone’s pocket. This is magic on a spectacular, sophisticated scale – think Harry Houdini meets Cirque du Soleil. One of the most exciting artists is sure to be Britain’s Got Talent finalist Darcy Oake (see below), but the others certainly aren’t mere warm-up performances.

Paul Krendl, The Escapist, grew up performing magic and was always most fascinated by Houdini’s legendary exploits. As an adult, he has pulled off some of the most dramatic and death-defying escape stunts around, including a recreation of Houdini’s Water Torture Cell. He says the challenge of doing that which others think is impossible is what motivates his work.

Chris Cox, also known as The Mentalist, describes himself as ‘a mind reader who can’t read minds’. This should give you some insight into the wacky, comedic nature of his act. Combining fast-talking humour and what is clearly an uncanny grasp of human psychology, he appears to read minds with freaky accuracy.

Expect to be on the edge of your seat when Ben Blaque, The Weapon Master, takes the stage. A crossbow specialist, Blaque performs the kind of routine that necessitates a ‘do not try this at home’ message to be flashed across television screens. His skill with a bow is almost unbelievably precise, but it’s the moment he puts himself in the line of fire that will leave audiences breathless.

The act of Den Den, The Manipulator, is poetry in motion – perhaps thanks to his history in kabuki theatre and traditional Japanese dance. Describing his manipulations as ‘card tricks’ doesn’t do them justice – expect a visually beautiful performance of next-level magic.

The evening’s double-act, Mark Kalin and Jinger Leigh, consists of two of the most celebrated magicians of the past two decades. Touring as The Showman and The Conjuress, this husband-and-wife team brings a nostalgic, old-school flair to the evening, with traditional tricks – such as sawing Jinger in half – that are then taken beyond the predictable.

Hailing from Manhattan, the hilarious Harrison Greenbaum, The Trickster, is one of New York’s top young stand-up comedians. His The Illusionists performance is a combination of self-deprecating stand-up and sleight-of-hand magic.

‘The stunning array of feats by eight incredibly talented artists, who each bring their own identity and genre of illusion to the show, will take your breath away,’ says Tony Feldman of Showtime Management, the company bringing The Illusionists to South Africa. ‘Expect the unexpected and more in this jaw-dropping magical night out.’

Book your tickets
Venue
GrandWest
Dates 7–11 February
Venue The Teatro at Montecasino
Dates 14 February – 11 March
Cost R200 – R500
Tickets Visit tsogosun.com

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