The 2019 cast of The Illusionists

Review of The Illusionists: Magic Of The Holidays 2019 on Broadway

David Walters
David Walters

There are probably over 70 holiday shows in the New York area vying for your entertainment dollar this season: several Scrooges both traditional and modern, numerous Nutcrackers, holiday music concerts and musicals, nostalgic, contemporary, blended, ones that will leave you covered with snow, a smile on your face and a song in your heart, but mostly striving to make you happy. That's what holiday shows are about. So where do you leave your discretionary funds this year?

Are you thirsty for some magic, amazement, wonder, a good laugh or two and something that will appeal to everyone of all ages?

The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays returns to Broadway (now at the Neil Simon Theatre) for the holiday season to quench that thirst. Paul Dabek (your MC for the evening) returns and has brought with him five world-renowned magicians and put together a two-hour entertainment that reaches out into the audience and wows everyone with a show of depth and variety that will tickle your funny bone, leave you scratching your head utterly flummoxed and amazed. Seriously.

Your guides for the evening, Eric Chien, Chris Cox, Dom Chambers, Kevin James and Enzo Wenye are the ones that will do that to you.

The show begins with a group introduction and visual spectacle that is really a wonder to behold of morphing and shape-shifting that sets the stage of the unexplainable yet to come. Harry Potter has nothing on these guys. There is close up magic, big production numbers with elves and Christmas presents, and simple bits of wonder done with just the hands and the shadows they cast.

Eric, a 2019 "America's Got Talent" semi-finalist, is a genius of sleight of hand that performs with cards and coins what is incomprehensible to the eyes. How he can make a card change color and make the impossible a reality in slow motion I'll never know. There is close-up camera assist through most of the show and it comes in especially handy during his segments.

Kevin does bigger production numbers with elves and flying boxes and chain saws and manipulating halves of bodies and creating snowstorms that drift out over the audience as well as a lovely intimate dancing paper napkin routine with a young girl from the audience performed in the auditorium. It takes a bit to warm up to him, but he wins us over with his magical inventiveness.

Dom, also an AGT semi-finalist this year, makes glasses of beer appear from all over the place and performs a wonderful duet with a phone and Siri as he becomes the foil for the jokes and a catalyst for the magic.

Chris reaches into the minds of the audience and reveals things that were previously not revealed. He's a wacky mentalist that is disarming with his charm and piercing with his wit and ability to know the unknowable.

Enzo delves into the instantaneous transport of both objects and himself. Things instantly leap from one side of the stage to the other as he misguides the audience tempting them with the forbidden knowledge of the reveal.

There really is something in this evening for everyone on your list. Most of my time was spent asking myself, "How'd they do that?" All with a smile on my face.

(Photo by Joan Marcus)


Originally published on

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