By Tulis McCall
I have been thinking a lot about magic these days, and The Illusionists reminded me why. Believing in the impossible is necessary – like the song says, “The impossible will take a little while.” Everything we see around us was considered impossible at one time. So why not indulge? When I was a kid around 9 years old I went to my mother who was leaning over the kitchen counter reading a magazine. I said, “Santa Claus isn’t real is he?” She said, “‘Fraid not.” I walked back to my room and sat on the bed for awhile. And I said the 9-year-old equivilant of “Bollux.” Just because my mother said it was so, did not mean it was so. There was and remains a part of me that listens every Christmas Eve. There is a part of me that says magic IS magic.
So this was a perfect show for me. The Illusionists does not pretend to be anything other than what it is: an invitation into a land where you can spend a lot of time figuring things out, or you can do the smart thing and go along with everything.
There is a little circus action mixed in here. The performers treat each other with grand gestures and great shows of support. They entice us into their world with promises of the most AMAZING, the most UNFORGETTABLE, the most ASTONISHING. Or they do nothing, and invite us in by force of will and gesture. Ping pong balls materialize and disappear while Mark Kalin (The Showman) in one spotlight appears to control them at will. A glowing ball is partner to a Conjuress (Jinger Leigh). A few minutes later she is the volunteer to be cut in half – and there is no telling how they pull this one off. A woman disappears into a shadow box and then is pulled out of a panel of wood by The Immortal (Rich Thomas). The Daredevil (Jonathan Goodwain) was the weakest of the lot as even I could see how he did it. Sigh.
There is juggling (a bit too much) combined with card tricks and a Charlatan (Dana Daniels) who seems to be the only one willing to admit that this is a cheesy way to make a living. This makes us love him all the more. Tommy Ten and Amelie Van Tass do some fancy footwork to pull off the mind reading portion of the show and brings us to the grand finale with breathtaking style and grace.
This is a holiday treasure. Bring the kids – or bring an adult like me for whom magic is a necessary ingredient to the daily details of life. Settle in, and let yourself be A-M-A-Z-E-D. It will do you good. And the Palace Theatre is the perfect home for a little time traveling.
WITH Dana Daniels, Charlie Frye, Jonathan Goodwin, Mark Kalin, Jinger Leigh, Justo Thaus Jin, Rick Thomas, Thommy Ten and Amélie van Tass
“The Illusionists: Turn of the Century” continues through Jan. 1 at the Palace Theater, 1564 Broadway, at 47th Street; 877-250-2929, theillusionistslive.com. Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes.