Dallas Summer Musicals has included in this year’s line up a show that is not a musical. The Illusionists originated on Broadway before hitting the road taking their highly produced extravaganza to some thirty cities.
The premise of the show is simple. Seven men each with a different specialty will confound and mesmerize with amazing illusions and magic. While incredibly stylized the star of The Illusionists is the lighting, sets and music and sadly not the show itself. There are moments. South Korea’s Yu Ho-Jin aka “The Manipulator” is quite brilliant as he fans out entire decks of cards one after another seemingly from nowhere. However there is nothing new or incredibly awe inspiring here.
The Illusionists have taken seven men, each good in their own field performing tricks and illusions that we have all seen many times before. The real difference here is that we get to see them with the production value of a Vegas show. I will say this was no Penn & Teller. P&T amazed, entertained and were politically insightful. Everything the Illusionists lacks.
Jeff Hobson the over the top gay “Trickster” provided well needed comic relief but Happy Hour at any gay bar seated next to a queen would provide as many laughable one liners for the cost of a drink. If Liberace and Paul Lynde had a child it would be Hobson. It was a little too over the top.
I could not help feel I was in the audience of a Fox TV special. You remember, the cheesy ones from years ago where the guy revealed how magic tricks are done. One of the greatest disappointments was an “updated” version of Houdini’s famous water torture tank escape. But here they removed the illusion. The trick, they tell you has until now been performed with the tank covered. Here not only will they not cover the tanks they tell you how Andrew Basso “the Escapologist” will escape the tank. While a bit of tension overcomes the audience as the obviously well-rehearsed escape takes place. But I was baffled trying to figure out where the illusion and any tension was lost.
I would recommend a DVD rental of 2013’s “Now You See Me”-a thrilling story of 4 master illusionists headlining a Vegas theater all the while pulling off some incredibly bold crimes, right in the open. The movie is what The Illusionist attempt to create in their act, but sadly they were not even close.
The Illusionists runs through Sunday, April 19th at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Tickets are $13-88. And available at dallassummermusicals.com DSM returns to its’ roots with the amazing Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Tuesday, June 9th. This will be a must see.
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