A Variety of Magicians Arrive in Costa Mesa in ‘The Illusionists’

Some of the greatest, most entertaining, spectacular, comical, shocking magicians you’ll ever see have appeared direct from Broadway at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  From the likes of incredibly intricate close-up magic to the stunning grand illusions of the largest acts in the business down to the funniest of comedic acts up to the most death-defying escape artists comes THE ILLUSIONISTS LIVE FROM BROADWAY.  Their act will disappear Sunday February 2nd, so there is no time to spare.

THE ILLUSIONISTS is exactly what one should expect from a large magic show production.  I’ll save trying to pretend this is merely more than just that. It’s a giant magic show with acts from around the world all offering something unique from each other.  The show is filled with one creative act after another with a bit of comedic relief from the flamboyant sequence wearing tear-jerking-funny Jeff Hobson, known as The Trickster.

Creative Producer Simon Painter and MagicSpace Entertainment has brought the biggest talent from across the world into one stage show for this very different Broadway show.  THE ILLUSIONISTS combines all types of magic acts to really cater toward any audience member.  Within this show there seems to be a focus on the more charming and smaller acts than the giant stage magic that one would anticipate from a show such as this.  You will find an assortment of some of the most fascinating close-up performances where the large screen on stage becomes useful even for closest of seats.  These acts are counteracted with several larger illusions sprinkled throughout.

Most performers have several illusions or acts that are spread sporadically through the show with a basis of ‘inbetweeners’ performed by Jeff Hobson.  He is an absolute delight and welcomed in each return to the stage as he delivers some of the absolute funniest improvisational bits I have ever seen in my life.  I could easily find myself enjoying an entire show featuring just him, but I digress.  Every performer is a character in their own right.  Including Hobson, the show features seven acts: The Escapologist, Andrew Basso; The Weapon Master, Ben Vlaque; The Manipulator, Yu Ho-Hin; The Inventor, Kevin James; The Deceptionist, James More; and The Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry.

While I was actually quite obsessed with magic tricks when I was younger, I have lost touch with that side of my life over the years.  It’s perhaps something I wish I did’t give up during my adolescents.  In fact, most magic tricks and illusionists became stale to me, but THE ILLUSIONISTS brings a refreshing show that’s never cheesy.  This is something hard to come-by within “magic” shows.  The show contains some thankfully fresh and edgy acts with new twists and new takes on some very classic illusions.

There are truly a fair amount of new tricks I have never seen the likes of, but there are still some typical disappearing reappearing in boxes tricks yet ends with some finishes that never get old.  How many times can you see a the person hold up a box covered in a shimmering sheet only to succumb to the illusionists flipping the sheet into the air revealing the box/cage/person/take your pick has disappeared. Some of the less flashy of tricks do contain some changes and differences from what you may have seen in the past helping this show stand out from other magic shows.

Though I was hoping for an even bigger production value with the most elaborate of sets and a larger back-up performer ensemble, THE ILLUSIONISTS is still one the biggest show of its kind I have ever seen and should be the new standard for Vegas.  It has a smaller feel than a Lance Burton or David Copperfield show.  It’s lack of unforgiving showiness that can be expected from a Vegas-style show should be commended. This is a show that wants to still focus on that sense of wonder we felt as a child with a hope that we can all escape from our everyday lives for this brief time.

THE ILLUSIONISTS is playing at Segerstrom Center For The Arts in Costa Mesa until February 7th.

For more information visit SCFTA.org.

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Joel Covey
Joel has been writing for SoCalThrills for the past decade covering entertainment, events, and theater since joining the site. He is a CSUF alum, studying within the Communication and Radio / TV / Film colleges.