The Illusionists Reviews

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CraigMitchell
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The Illusionists Reviews

Postby CraigMitchell » December 5th, 2014, 7:10 am

http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Re ... E-20141204

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: Here's a trick I'd like to see some world-class magician perform: Make the Marriott Marquis Theater, the monolithic hotel that houses it and the monstrous video screen that now wraps around its facade -- turning an ugly building even uglier -- disappear. And then keep waving that wand and bring back the five Broadway theaters that were demolished when this Times Square eyesore was built. Should this feat take place imminently, gone, too, would be "The Illusionists," an overproduced and overblown magic show featuring seven talented tricksters drowning in a sea of cheese. Magic acts, it seems to me, are best served like a nice dry martini, straight up...That's not the theory behind this bombast-riddled production...All this serves not to enhance the brilliance of the feats being performed but to distract from it...The simpler feats performed in "The Illusionists" are the most impressive.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Magic for limited 21st century attention spans is the defining aspect of The Illusionists -- Witness the Impossible...Gussying up its familiar tricks with high-class production values reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil, this show, while seemingly made for Vegas casinos, has the feel of a Fox television special. However, unlike that network's controversial '90s-era magic specials the secrets are not revealed...Performing with an onstage rock band dubbed "Z" and several flamboyantly dressed back-up dancers, the septet deliver the standard range of illusions, most of which are decidedly of the small-scale variety. Indeed, audience members will inevitably find themselves spending much of the time watching the giant video screen on which close-ups of the tricks, filmed by a roving cameraman, are projected. To call the evening a mixed bag is an understatement. For every reasonably effective illusion, there's another that lands with a thud.

Steve Parks, Newsday: Who says there's no magic on Broadway? "The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible" uses deceit right in the title. The tricks -- mostly one-offs from magic we've witnessed forever -- are not only possible, some give us the illusion that we've figured out how they're done. But what these "Illusionists" lack in originality, they make up for in style...Director Neil Dorward sets a rapid pace that blurs the prestidigitation to a relentless beat by onstage band Z. We're left with the illusion that we're in Vegas.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: In town for the holidays, "The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible" brings presto chango to Broadway in a light family-friendly entertainment that's part "Gee whiz!" and part Cheez Whiz. Fortunately, jaw-dropping trickery trumps the eye-rolling Las Vegas vibe that fills the air, along with haze, strobe effects and eardrum-thumping music by the onstage band...the show unfolds as a hodgepodge. Still, there's plenty of variety as acts range from Goth to goofball.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: "The Illusionists" seems so much like a Vegas revue that you half expect that it comes with an all-you-can eat buffet. And when we say Vegas, we mean something old-school like the Flamingo, not the swanky Bellagio...But behind the too-cool-for-Hogwarts attitude and the funky live band is a conventional family show big on sleights of hand, visual illusions and audience participation. Jeff Hobson's Trickster is the one most likely to pull you up from your seat. So proudly fey that he makes Liberace look butch, Hobson combines the gift of gab and the gift of grab -- the first has you laughing and distracts you from the second. Judging by the way he makes [censored] disappear, he might be better called the Bamboozler.

Matt Windman, AM New York: While the special effects are certainly impressive in a "how'd he do that?" sort of way, "The Illusionists" is further amplified with live electronic music, light patter, audience participation, plenty of smoke and a large and looming television screen above the performers on which they are being simultaneously filmed...In addition to a Houdini-inspired act one finale where a handcuffed magician escapes from a locked water tank, as well as a body sliced in half, the show is filled mainly with small-scale card tricks, forcing audience members to watch close-ups on the video screen and removing them from the live nature of the event. Although it's unapologetically cheesy and questionably designed, this is likely to thrill magic enthusiasts and many others.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: First off, there isn't one great illusionist. "The Illusionist" stars seven, and even the very talented Mr. Jackman could not pull off Houdini's most famous stunt -- an escape from a huge water tank -- with the thrilling reality that Andrew Basso (The Escapologist) brings to it..."The Illusionists," directed by Neil Dorward, relies a bit too much on audience participation. But it is a magic show, and sometimes the hoi polloi from Jersey or the Bronx do bring an edge of reality to the tricks...This magic show is perfect for the kids. Better yet, it makes you feel like a kid again.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/theat ... .html?_r=0

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/th ... -1.9677369

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 5th, 2014, 11:48 am

Yikes!
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Andrew Martin Portala » December 5th, 2014, 12:00 pm

They are on Broadway . Makes it pretty awesome ! :D

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby CraigMitchell » December 6th, 2014, 12:53 am

New York critics are notoriously hard to please ... The proof ultimately will be in the box office ... I hope they do well.

Any one recall off hand what Copperfield / S & R's reviews were like when they played Broadway ...

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 6th, 2014, 11:42 am

Siegfried and Roy never played Broadway. They were at Radio City Music Hall--definitely not considered a Broadway show.

Can't remember what Copperfield's reviews were like. A bad review from The New York Times can kill some plays if they're not all booked in advance from tourist and bus groups.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » December 6th, 2014, 12:56 pm

Noting that variations of the word "cheese" (as in "cheesy") was used a lot in these reviews is not what venue-seeking magicians want to hear. Perceptions matter. PR matters. However, bright-siders may find comfort in the fact that mainstream America really, really adore cheese--chessy pizza, gooey-cheesy burgers, cheesy nachos, CheeseWiz, etc.

Why not then Cheese Wizardy, a genre that can peacefully coexist with Cardartistry?

Meanwhile, looking into the crystal ball, the future of "magic" (as we know it) has yet to clearly materialize.
Nobody has managed to kill off Peter Pan yet.

Right now they also are filming a pilot titled The Magicians in my town, using my books and props as background.
They ain't Harry Potter types, but they are urbanized, young adults…old school collides with new school.

Stay tuned.
Watch this space.
Fasten your seat belts.
Rabbits are still hippity-hopping.

Onward...

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Bill Mullins » December 6th, 2014, 1:06 pm

Jon Racherbaumer wrote: mainstream America really, really adore cheese--chessy pizza, gooey-cheesy burgers, cheesy nachos, CheeseWiz, etc.

Why not then Cheese Wizardy, a genre that can peacefully coexist with Cardartistry?


Chad Long, author of the Lost Cheesy Notebooks, is already there.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby erdnasephile » December 6th, 2014, 5:46 pm

Here's the complete NY Times review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/theat ... .html?_r=0

I find it interesting that the reviewer found the "simpler feats" more impressive than the spectacle. (He also puts in a nice call back to "Nothing to Hide"). The man has taste.

Anyone on GF planning to see this?
Last edited by erdnasephile on December 7th, 2014, 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Tim Ellis » December 7th, 2014, 7:58 am

The original version of THE ILLUSIONISTS that played at The Sydney Opera House for one night at over 3 hours before being trimmed back to 2, was described to me and sounded much more interesting than the magic concert that it has become.

Both v1 and v2 are fun shows filled with astonishing talent but lacking in direction.

I'm hoping v3 has more structure, style and substance.

It is worth noting that Yu Ho Jin is singled out in the reviews and his act is staged with an absolute minimum of distractions.

Also, if you noticed the first reviews of Criss Angel's BELIEVE, the fact that there was too much going on to distract you from the effects was highlighted there too.

A good magic director is a rare commodity, but invaluable to staging a successful show. I would love to see how Teller or Neil Patrick Harris would have directed THE ILLUSIONISTS.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby JHostler » December 7th, 2014, 9:26 am

Interesting that the Hobson folks here find so bloody offensive was generally well-received (and with none of the same vitriol) in these write-ups. At the same time, "our" predilection for cheesy dance and choreography - not to mention the new superhero angle - is [yet again] being called out for the rubbish it's always been.

There's just no accounting for taste... or stubborn persistence in the exercise thereof.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 7th, 2014, 10:55 am

Everyone in the audience believes that Hobson is gay, that's one reason his act received no ridicule by the critics or public.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby JHostler » December 7th, 2014, 11:06 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Everyone in the audience believes that Hobson is gay, that's one reason his act received no ridicule by the critics or public.


Perhaps, but the jury is still out on how your typical theatergoer would react if Jeff was "outed" (so to speak). I suspect (humble opinion caveat and all) you'd see significantly more praise for his skill than the brand of criticism levied on this forum.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 7th, 2014, 11:33 am

We'll never know unless you stand outside the theater and conduct a poll.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 7th, 2014, 11:55 am

According to Broadway News, as of 11/30--and just during previews--"The Illusionists" grossed over $1 million:

http://www.nytix.com/news/category/broa ... ketgrosses

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 7th, 2014, 1:56 pm

The only thing which overcomes the snobbishness of Broadway is MONEY.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby NYCJoePItt » December 7th, 2014, 3:38 pm

This is the easiest time of the year to sell a ticket on Broadway. And with the weather we had this weekend in NYC, even more so. I'm betting the grosses for all of the box offices will be great for the weekend.

I have a feeling I'm getting a ticket for TI as an Xmas gift, so I'll let you know what I think. I didn't get myself a ticket because the commercials and hype were a bit of a turn off. I prefer more parlor types of shows, unless it is very good and grand like Copperfield.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Rick Ruhl » December 7th, 2014, 3:57 pm


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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Rick Ruhl » December 7th, 2014, 4:13 pm


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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 7th, 2014, 4:59 pm

Unlike "Merlin," "The Illusionists" does not try and shoehorn magicians into musical roles they cannot fulfill. It is a magic show, not a Broadway musical with magic in it.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby P.T.Widdle » December 7th, 2014, 8:22 pm

This is really a distasteful thread. It's sole intention seems to be to gleefully post poor reviews of magic shows on Broadway. Yes, everybody has a right to their opinion, so lets all pile on magic shows present and past that play/have played Broadway. You can feel the fangs happily coming out to tear down The Illusionists, and hey, for good measure, let's also revisit Merlin's bad reviews!

Richard Kaufman wrote:Unlike "Merlin," "The Illusionists" does not try and shoehorn magicians into musical roles they cannot fulfill. It is a magic show, not a Broadway musical with magic in it.


As far as I understood it, The Magic Show was a Broadway musical with magic in it. It had musical numbers and it had a story. The same is true for Merlin, but that one didn't quite work out, for many reasons well detailed in the fine Genii article as well as in the book Spellbound. Yes, Merlin had poor reviews, but as magicians, we should recognize and celebrate the inspiring intentions behind it's conception. A magical musical is not easy to do, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted. Henning should be applauded for trying to broaden magic beyond the rigid magic show format. It was his college thesis, after all.

There is another thread going on now which is listing all the magic shows that have appeared on Broadway. I invite others to check it out and contribute, rather than participate in this bile.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby P.T.Widdle » December 7th, 2014, 8:29 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Everyone in the audience believes that Hobson is gay, that's one reason his act received no ridicule by the critics or public.


Good lord, what is this supposed to mean? Are you actually saying that if a magician is gay/perceived to be gay, then critics and the public are less likely to "ridicule?"

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 7th, 2014, 8:41 pm

If you don't understand what it means, then feel free to ignore it.
And if you feel that this thread is "bile" then feel free not to participate in it.

But if you want to have a discussion about how critics in the real world views magic, this is an interesting thread.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby JHostler » December 7th, 2014, 8:47 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Everyone in the audience believes that Hobson is gay, that's one reason his act received no ridicule by the critics or public.


Good lord, what is this supposed to mean? Are you actually saying that if a magician is gay/perceived to be gay, then critics and the public are less likely to "ridicule?"


In Richard's defense (not that he needs or wants it), he was responding to my comment regarding criticism of Hobson's character - not Jeff's performance in general. It relates to another forum thread with quite a bit of pie-throwing.

The more critical issue, in my mind, is stage magicians' incessant attempts to supplement magic with other theatrical devices that simply don't work. Superhero-like characters... bad dancing... cheesy music... '80s-style costumes... etc. etc. It's all quite embarrassing, and we seem to be the only ones who don't notice. Burt Wonderstone really wasn't that far off the mark. These critics are (thankfully) calling us out.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby hugmagic » December 7th, 2014, 9:28 pm

Richard is correct in that Merlin was a musical with magic but this is not and has not been billed that way.

I watched many of the rehearsals here in Akron, Ohio. The show was constantly being tweaked and I imagine that it still continues to do so.

I think the press night was a joke. 90% of the acts working today would die under such circumstances. It was only the press, that was present. Talk about a jaded audience and lack of reaction. If you ever did a "phone show" with only 6 people in the audience, you can possibly relate. The one reviewer was more upset that they tore down five theaters to make this hotel and theater than reviewing the show.

I don't buy into the comments that it is the same old thing. Aren't most Broadway shows the same old thing? Often they are 50 year old scripts (of great productions) with simply a new face, star or name inserted t make it fresh. If it is good, it does not have to be new. The magic in this show is very good.

I wholeheartedly agree with polling John Q. Public on what they thought. I know in Akron, they sold out the only two shows they had, with standing ovations at each. This was a real audience not some reviewer who find it easier to chop an act up than to see the real value in it. The theater people here are more than happy to rebook such an attraction in the future.

The shows I saw hit a wide range of demographics. Literaly from age 5 to 85. There were dangerous elements of the show, the warm fuzzy moments, light hearted comedy, escapes, grand illusion, hi tech magic, and the punk rock magic. There was something for everyone truly. The video screen use is what the younger crowd expects. Personally, I don't care for it as much as seeing a live performance. Some of the performers have also expressed a concern that a 3-D medium becomes 2-D with the screen use. But they are not overused. They allow larger venues to be played and still have the audience see the acts. Lighting design is top rated as are the technical aspects of the show. The cues for the show are so enormous that I commend the backstage manager keeping it all together and moving. It is really the work for two guys.

Now onto the magicians, Adam Trent does the initial warmup of the house with a version of the "Instant Magician". He is personable and establishes a rapport with the audience and involves them immediately into the show. His video interaction piece is a great use of technology with magic. And the one night I saw when the video failed, he covered as only a seasoned professional can do.

A rapid fire production number is next that really opens the show from people appearing to costume changes to straight jacket escapes to an appearance of a large train, there is more magic in though the first five minutes than in a most entire shows.

Dan Sperry, billed as the Anti-Conjurer, registers well with the younger crowd because his American Got Talent appearances. His life saver effect plays well as does his other spots with Russian Roulette and his dove act. Opening the second half with the Russian Roulette, is a good fit to bring the crowd back into the show on a personal level though I do wish he would slow his talk down a little. Too many lines are lost to the audience.

Kevin James, as the inventor, does his classic Chaplin Doll with a new twist and the operation routine. His classic floating rose routine, using a younger girl, plays very well and give a good warm fuzzy moment to the show. The operation number has been nicely retooled with a steam punk look but at times it may be a little too busy with all the other production items added in the background. Just a little too much going on to get the full impact of this great illusion. The inventor truly fits Kevin well as everything he does is his own idea or twist.

Aaron Crowe, as the Warrior, is a lesson in non verbal communication. He totally commands the stage with his presence. His combination of martial arts stunts with magic ideas is lesson in showmanship. He handles with audience volunteers with respect and control.

Andrew Basso, the Escapologist, does a very good visible Water Torture Cell. Jeff Hobson does a good job setting the stage for the illusion before an audience member helps to get Andrew locked into the cell. The use of the video screen lets everyone see everything while still being able to see the performance live.

Yu Ho Jin, the Manipulator, does his famous card production act which registers very well with the lay audience. The music, as I understand, was custom written for him by a very, very famous musician in Korea. A very good solid turn.

Jeff Hobson, the Trickster, is the light spot to the show. His classic card in the mouth routine and egg bag still play very well to any group. Ten of thousands of shows have honed this into a finely crafted routine. For me, it was fun to watch his performance like a jazz performer putting in this line or remark depending on the audience he is working for. Harry Blackstone Jr. did a similar thing for me with his committee routine. His "gay" persona is alluded to but not openly stated. It is full of innuendos that make fun of things. The audience has fun with his persona and enjoys the magic.

The next to closing spot is Kevin James with his classic snow routine. As he finishes the snow routine, the entire cast is produced on an elevated platform on stage. At this point in both performances I saw, it prompted a spontaneous standing ovation from the audience.

The closing spot of the show is Yu Ho Jin doing a blank deck to printed deck back to blank that spelling out "The Illusionists" on a table top. This was all done with good closeup camera work. Though it seemed a little anti-climatic to the finish of the show which had already received a standing ovation.

The music is all original with five live performers augmenting the sounds. Prior to the appearance in Akron, Kevin James and Jeff Hobson, made the rounds of the local TV stations to promote the show. Promotion has been all over the internet. Pop up ads are constantly telling people about the show.

Is it a Broadway reviewer show, obviously not in their eyes. But the public and promoter love it. Shows were added to the performances in New York even before the first performance in Akron due to heavy ticket sales. Some days in New York must look like vaudeville, performing three shows a day. Offers have been made to them to operate in a permanent theater in New York.

This show is version 2.0. It has been honed and refined from different versions of the show from performances all over the world. It is slated to tour until the end of June and may then be going into the London Palladium for two months. When you have show with this caliber of technical people, consultants, and performers, that this show has, you are going to have a top flight production. The performers have all been making a living doing magic for many, many years. Two them for over thirty years.

I have seen a lot of magic but this is one of the best total magic shows I have seen in a long time. It is a fresh approach to magic that hopefully will help to reignite the public's interest in magic. I know it did my area.

Richard

PS. It was good to see Mark Kalin and Don Wayne who were both in town working on getting this show up and running. Mark had just flown in from Turkey where he was performing in another version of this show.
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby P.T.Widdle » December 7th, 2014, 9:54 pm

Rick Ruhl wrote:Or John Simon's scathing review

http://books.google.com/books?id=ItgBAA ... &q&f=false



Why bring Merlin into this? A fairer comparison would be Henning's World of Magic:

http://www.nytimes.com/1984/12/15/arts/ ... magic.html

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby erdnasephile » December 7th, 2014, 10:19 pm

Appreciate your perspective, Mr. Hughes--thanks! Sounds like a good show.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Bill Mullins » December 7th, 2014, 10:31 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Everyone in the audience believes that Hobson is gay, that's one reason his act received no ridicule by the critics or public.


Good lord, what is this supposed to mean? Are you actually saying that if a magician is gay/perceived to be gay, then critics and the public are less likely to "ridicule?"


Do you recognize a difference between a black comedian telling jokes about himself/other black people, and a white guy in blackface telling jokes about blacks?

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 7th, 2014, 10:52 pm

Richard, thanks for the excellent rundown of the show and the background information@
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby P.T.Widdle » December 8th, 2014, 8:12 am

Bill Mullins wrote:Do you recognize a difference between a black comedian telling jokes about himself/other black people, and a white guy in blackface telling jokes about blacks?


Your analogy to Hobson's character isn't quite right. The difference being, as Richard points out, the audience believes Hobson is gay, as opposed to the audience of the blackface knowing he's not black and not caring. I think the issue is whether an audience finds the material offensive, regardless of who is performing it.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby CraigMitchell » December 8th, 2014, 10:09 am

The London Palladdium recently opened up after Simon Cowell's musical flopped. They've been taking short runs of various shows over the past few months ... Flatley's new Lord of the Dance debuted there, Cats returned for the holiday season ... would be a great fit if going for the 'family' audience. It's an enormous venue - but with sufficient marketing push could hopefully fill it.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 8th, 2014, 10:56 am

Bill Mullins wrote:
P.T.Widdle wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Everyone in the audience believes that Hobson is gay, that's one reason his act received no ridicule by the critics or public.


Good lord, what is this supposed to mean? Are you actually saying that if a magician is gay/perceived to be gay, then critics and the public are less likely to "ridicule?"


Do you recognize a difference between a black comedian telling jokes about himself/other black people, and a white guy in blackface telling jokes about blacks?


Most seem to have trouble getting the layers of irony where both do jokes about Chinese or "asian"
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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 8th, 2014, 10:55 pm

PLEASE: Let us NOT regurgitate the Jeff Hobson argument here. This is about the show's reviews, ticket sales, and other "Broadway" aspects.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby NYCJoePItt » December 9th, 2014, 12:36 am

The Illusionist box office was down a bit from the previous week (84% sold) but that would be expected the week after Thanksgiving. The negative review from the Times doesn't appear to have affected sales or if it has, probably negligibly. There were tickets available (at discount) at TKTS for most of last week. Like most other shows, it will probably sell out the last two weeks of the year which are the top grossing weeks for Broadway every year, Xmas and New Years. I believe the show is then scheduled to close anyway.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby John Signa » December 9th, 2014, 10:30 am

Yes, closes January 4 when it begins its US tour.
http://www.theillusionistslive.com/tickets/north-america/washington

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby CraigMitchell » December 11th, 2014, 7:16 am

Blistering attack on Adam Trent by Las Vegas Weekly ... some New York vs Las Vegas rivalry

http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/as-we-see ... -broadway/

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby hugmagic » December 11th, 2014, 4:08 pm

To be honest, I think it is a very honest assessment. Trent is a very good performer, personable, engaging and technically sound. The "Futurist" is a marketing title and really should not be taken literally. At least, this reviewer was not so caught up in his own little world like most of the New York reviewers that were just plain out of the loop on the whole show.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby houdinisghost » December 11th, 2014, 4:29 pm

I attended the closing night of "the Tempest" -- the best production of any play I've seen in 65 years of chronic playgoing -- with Steve Valentine and Inna Kay. After the show, Steve said, "Aside from the Shakespeare -- which was wonderful -- this was the best magic show I've ever seen."

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Brad Henderson » December 11th, 2014, 6:41 pm

are the reviewers out of the loop on magic shows or are magic shows out of the loop as to what constitutes innovative, modern Broadway caliber theatrical productions?

And once again we see how hype sets up the audience for disappointment. With all of these flash in the pan college circuit type performers promising to revolutionize magic and make it cutting edge with a mccombical deck and mouth coil routine, one might think it best to avoid trodding the same path while promising sometbing new.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Q. Kumber » December 11th, 2014, 7:00 pm

Brad Henderson wrote: With all of these flash in the pan college circuit type performers promising to revolutionize magic and make it cutting edge with a mccombical deck and mouth coil routine, one might think it best to avoid trodding the same path while promising sometbing new.


I have seen that happen so often.

I'm an old-school conjurer, and happy with that.

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Re: The Illusionists Reviews

Postby Tom Moore » December 12th, 2014, 10:28 am

"variety" shows reviewed by "serious" critics who spend the rest of their year watching serious drama, spectacular dance & multi million dollar musicals put together by massive teams of hugely experienced broadway/west-end creatives who have all been employed specifically to create something new and different always get bad reviews, for exactly the same reasons that the classical music critic of the NYT is not going to give a very good review to a Britney Spears concert.

I'm also inclined to agree with the more general tone of the reviews, whilst "the illusionists" has many great elements overall it is a VERY dated production (I can point you to TV specials from 20 years ago that are indistinguishable from this "modern" show) and whilst it does to some extent depend on the cast employed in each leg of the tour I would say that 90% of the material in the show is old material that has been seen many many times by any savvy audience. That's not to say that these are unforgivable traits but for a show that is marketed as a "modern" show full of innovative concepts these are flaws.

The 2.0 version (with Luis deMatos et al) does fix some of these problems as it features more unusual material but even then i still wouldn't call it a modern show.
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