This may well be “The world’s biggest selling magic spectacular”, but the The Illusionists – Direct From Broadway doesn’t quite stack up as a West End show.
Let me be clear, this show isn’t horrible – it’s a nicely produced (touring standard) magic show that has a great host and one breathtaking act. However, with best seats at £99 at the Shaftesbury Theatre – it struggles to compete with the talent, polish & standard of competing shows (for the same price) in London.
Watch this HD VIDEO REVIEW via YouTube HERE:
In terms of world class magic, it frankly disappoints. It’s mostly unoriginal and doesn’t bring much new to the table. Every trick (other than Goodwin’s escape) is ‘loaded in’ opposed to a ‘production piece’ (like levitation) which has to be rigged at the theatre. That takes time and effort.
Yu Ho-Jin steals the show with is manipulations…
For this price in the West End, it’s disappointing considering this iconic stage. Furthermore, some images used to promote this show are from tricks that do not appear. There’s no pyro for example despite a recent tweet. That’s magic!
I therefore conclude that despite being “Direct from Broadway” this show is not the same cast, scale or calibre of talent/production – which you could say is misleading.
However, as a kids / family night out at a variety/comedy/magic show this is a 5* experience equivalent to a world class cruise ship production.
Having just seen David Blaine on tour for £45 and Criss Angel in Vegas for less than £100, I can’t help but feel very short changed in terms of a 2019 production. Illusionists feels like a massive let down and incongruous to “jaw dropping” quotes in the publicity.
Watch EXCLUSIVE HD video from the show:
I wanted to love this show but I simply enjoyed it as a Monday night out. With one exception there’s nothing new, original or clever about this show. It certainly is not spectacular. It’s a Butlin’s / Cruise Ship scale magic show produced beautifully with some decent talent and nice lighting.
That isn’t an insult, but just don’t expect David Copperfield in the 90’s. How is it possible this is less impressive 30 years later? This reflects very badly on the art form in my view.
Watch Yu Ho-Jin with an exclusive performance @ Illusionists 2019:
In perspective, I could take you to two £20 Vegas magic shows of equal standard. What I do love though is that magic is back in London and still relevant. I’m thrilled it was sold out and audiences are loving illusions in 2019 – that’s brilliant!
The show is formulaic. For example, one principle of magic was performed seven times in the same show. Like panto – “he’s almost certainly behind you” is a little draining! There has to be a cleverer way of ‘refreshing’ this concept.
Enjoy an exclusive interview with Adam Trent:
The all-star line-up includes The Showman James More, The Unforgettable Enzo Weyne, The Manipulator Yu Ho-Jin, The Futurist Adam Trent, The Mentalist Chris Cox, The Trickster Paul Dabek and The Daredevil Jonathan Goodwin.
Last seen in the West End in 2015 and having just played Broadway, The Illusionists is not “mind-blowing spectacular showcasing the jaw dropping talents” – it’s some very polished magicians doing some great tricks very well.
Adam offered a lovely finale akin to the 2015 production and is a pro, Chris Cox was exhaustingly pathologically cheerful & James & Enzo offered two lovely pieces of crafted illusions but the show was stollen by the fabulous Ho-Jin.
I’m not worried that there aren’t any female magicians in the show, there aren’t any (of this standard) in Vegas either – it is what it is. What does bother me though is that the standard of acts does hugely vary throughout the show.
I loved Paul Dubek who opened, drove and brought warmth and charm to the show. Some lol old variety gags and a beautiful way with the punters.
Most impressive was Yu Ho-Jin. These guy was leagues above the rest in skill and blew the audience away with his superb art and craft. A beautiful artist. Clearly this man has dedicated his life, daily, to card manipulation.
It was great for the kids to see Jonathan Goodwin after his huge success on BGT. Escapology seems timeless and his scorpion routine was a treat of Blaine proportions. I can’t wait to read what the vegetarians at the Guardian make of that.
Enjoy an exclusive interview with Paul Dabek – the brilliant host of the show:
Overall this is a fun, variety magic show perfect for families. Truly there isn’t any “spectacle” but there is charm and the children will love it.
If this was on tour I’d give it 4* but in the West End (yards from The Lion King & Harry Potter) I can’t truthfully recommend this show at £99 although tickets do start from £25.
I guess I was hoping for more. It’s 2019. YouTube has killed magic produced like this sadly…the art has got to push forward and push the boundaries to stay relevant.
Review and interviews by Alex Belfield for Celebrity Radio 7th July 2019.