Magical Broadway Moments with the Stars of The Illusionists: Magic Of The Holidays
Last night I attended Opening Night of The Illusionists: Magic Of The Holidays at the Marquis Theatre - the fourth Broadway installment of the world-class magic show led by an international rotating cast of magicians. Following the Broadway debut of The Illusionists in December 2014 with "Witness the Impossible" (also at the Marquis), this jaw-dropping troupe returned for holiday season engagements in 2015 ("Live on Broadway" at the Neil Simon Theatre) and in 2016 ("Turn of the Century" at the Palace Theatre). Now, they're back where it all began and will continue to delight audiences - young and young-at-heart - through to December 30, 2018.
With a mixture of larger-scale illusions, mind-reading, multi-media presentations and more intimate sleight of hand tricks and card tricks (utilising live cameras and big screens for the audience's benefit), Magic Of The Holidays offers a great evening (or afternoon) of diversity. Indeed, each of the five members of the cast are unique in their showmanship. The 2018 winner of "America's Got Talent" Shin Lim employs a more calming, mysterious presence as “The Manipulator”, whilst Chloé Crawford is more playful and seductive as “The Sorceress”. Darcy Oake poses as a kind of self-assured male model as “The Grand Illusionist” and Colin Cloud presents himself with humility and uses comedy to bond with the audience as “The Deductionist”. All four of these performers are currently making their Broadway debut, but hats off to Adam Trent (as “The Futurist”), who has appeared in The Illusionists cast twice before and functions as our guide and host of the evening. He is the all-round showman, drawing laughter as well as sentimental responses from the audience and being quick to ad-lib with the unpredictable nature of audience interaction. Finally, the cherry on this magic show cake is special guest appearances by the light-up dance crew known as Light Balance, who perform a couple of stunning choreographies (one, fittingly performed to Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" to keep to the theme). A Broadway stage is the ideal home for this astonishingly creative and technically marvellous troupe.
Earlier in the day, we had the opportunity to meet the cast of The Illusionists and we were eager to find out about their own personal magical memories of Broadway, so here's what each of them had to say:
Well, actually when I last came to Broadway, I watched the show Aladdin. It was one of the most magical shows with a flying carpet and the genie and just the way the theatre ran in terms of the sets, it was all so amazing. It was actually quite magical to be honest. I’m also very much looking forward to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’ve heard really amazing things about that and I’m seeing it next week. I’m really excited!
Obviously debuting on Broadway has been so amazing and being here at Christmas, I mean, it’s just such a magical city. But I’m super excited about going to see The Rockettes! That’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. So, I have a feeling that’s going to be at the top of my magic moments list, after I’ve been and checked out the show.
In general, what’s been my most magical experience on Broadway? Well, I’ve been to New York a number of times over the years and I think the most magical moment happened a few Decembers ago. I was standing in Times Square at 4am and it started snowing. I was there alone. Times Square was completely empty. I made a little video of me standing in Times Square and it looks like some kind of weird Apocalypse. There’s no-one else. It’s snowing. It was absolutely beautiful, looking up and seeing all the lights. It was just amazing. Standing there, I genuinely thought to myself: “One day, I would love to come back here and perform.” The fact that I’m now back here and doing that, honestly, is like a total cliché dream-come-true. From being a shy, quiet, reserved teenager to now being stood on a Broadway stage every night is madness and it’s remarkable. I’m honored and delighted to be here. And in terms of shows, I think my favorite Broadway show that I have ever seen is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Obviously, The Illusionists is a magic show and in Harry Potter, there’s a lot of special effects and real magical-looking moments in that as well. So, without a doubt, hands down, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is my favorite magical Broadway moment!
I would say one of my favorite memories on Broadway was seeing The Play That Goes Wrong. Just being in that theatre and seeing a show that they’ve centred around things going wrong from a theatre perspective – it’s hilarious! And there were so many things that I related to and that I felt like I connected to in a way because I know how some of those things, that they make a joke of in the show, actually feel for real! That was a really cool show for me to see. It’s live theatre and sometimes stuff happens and things can go wrong and they turned that into an entire show. That was very magical in and of itself!
I have two magical memories that I’m gonna give you, actually. One of them was when I first saw Jekyll & Hyde and he’s doing the transformation and he goes back and forth between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The lighting change and the hair change – that was the first time that I realised how much an impact lighting can have on mood. And the second one is the magic carpet flight in Disney’s Aladdin. Those are two special moments that I distinctly remember seeing and feeling that kind of shock and wonder that I felt when I first saw magic.
The Illusionists - Magic Of The Holidays Tickets are available now for performances through to December 30, 2018.
(Photos by Tom Millward)