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April 28, 2015 - The Illusionist @ The Fisher Theatre

Detroit Metro Mashup had the distinct pleasure of attending The Illusionists at the Fisher Theater in Detroit on 04/29/15. We saw Blue Man Group at the same venue just a week ago, so this makes two shows in a row that are extremely difficult to put into words. But we’re reviewing it, so I have to try. Let me preface this review by just saying you should go see the show. If you are an amateur magician (or a professional) or just enjoy magic and illusions, this is a must-see; you can’t afford to miss it.

The Illusionists, subtitled, “Witness the Impossible,” is the best-selling magic show in Broadway history and it is a great addition to the “Broadway in Detroit” series sponsored by Chrysler. It will be showing from April 28 to May 10 at the Fisher Theater. If you’re thinking that the venue is too large to see the performer’s tricks, don’t worry. Fixed cameras and a roving cameraman project the show on a large overhead screen for the entire duration.

Seven illusionists/magicians were the stars of the show. Each of them had a character name that suited their type of magic and role in the show. These included:

The Manipulator - Yu Ho-Jin
The Anti-Conjuror - Dan Sperry
The Trickster - Jeff Hobson
The Escapologist - Andrew Basso
The Inventor - Kevin James
The Warrior - Aaron Crow
The Futurist - Adam Trent

A real highlight of the show for Michiganders is that one of the primary narrators is Jeff Hobson, “The Trickster,” a Detroit native. In the style of the late Liberace and with an unmistakable and admitted gay flair, he had the crowd in stitches the entire time he was on the stage and in the audience. In fact, comedy was an important part of the entire show, particularly for some of the illusionists. Before Jeff came out, however, the show was introduced by Adam Trent, “The Futurist.” The illusion he performed at the beginning of the show, just as he exited the audience, still has us scratching our heads. It seemed impossible, frankly.

The variety of illusions would suit every type of magic lover, from the macabre (Anti-Conjuror) to full stage sets (The Inventor). The Manipulator, “… was the Grand Prix Winner in stage magic at Federation Internationale des Societes Magiques (FISM) World Championships of Magic (2012), a competition that is considered the Olympic games for magicians.” His focus was card tricks that we’ve never seen before and can’t really comprehend. One of my personal favorites was the bird magic done by the Anti-Conjuror. I’ve never seen any magic performed so rapidly and fluidly with animals (that he appeared to love, by the way).

Houdini is resurrected in the act of the Escapologist, who does Houdini’s famed upside-down, handcuffed and bound in a tank of cold water escape, using only a bobby pin. In this case, however, the tank is exposed for all to see. You could almost hear the audience holding its breath along with him. Frankly it appeared he might not make it as the time (displayed) kept ticking away. The Warrior’s “weapon magic” was frightening (at least to me) and truly tested the resolve of a couple from the audience and their ability to not move .

The show was lively, extravagant, comedic, absorbing, unnerving, and entertaining. Is that enough adjectives for you? Audience participation occurred throughout much of the show, including the involvement of a few children who seemed delighted and enthralled by the entire circumstance. We at Detroit Metro Mashup strongly encourage you to go see this show and take your children if you have any, because they will remember it for the rest of their lives. It will be one of “those” types of memories.

For more information:

Fisher Box Office, & 800-982-2787 & 313-872-1000
Groups (12+): email - (Subject: Illusionists) or call 313-871-1132