Featuring a cast of world-renowned magicians, The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays enchanted the First Interstate Center for the Arts Monday December 26th. Hosted by trickster Paul Dabek, the international cast featured Chris Cox, Pablo Canovas, James More, and FISM award winner Hyunjoon Kim. Rife with laughter and crowd participation, the family-friendly Broadway show presented Spokane families with an evening they won’t soon forget.
Throughout the evening, as if sampling a tray of Christmas sweets, the crowd got to have a taste of a variety of schools of magic. Each of the 5 magicians, in a sort of late nineties / early aughts boyband sort of way, represented the major categories of magic performance. From comedy magic to mind reading, each of these performers brought something unique to the evening across 2-3 magic tricks each.
Host Paul Dabek, whose act blends comedy and magic, opened the show with two young audience volunteers. In the middle of his opening act, he quipped “I hate kids — just kidding. I have the heart of a child (in my freezer).” His high energy and ability to work the crowd kept energy high throughout the evening.
FISM award winner Hyunjoon Kim had deceptively strong, and in my opinion, the most interesting tricks of the evening. While sticking primarily to card tricks, his performance had a sense of narrative and metamorphosis. Cards in Hyunjoon’s hands aren’t just cards: they become, for a moment, an infinite bouquet of flowers. While no doubt talented and entertaining, the other magicians lacked Kim’s quiet poetic sensibility.
A close second was Pablo Canovas, whose storytelling and acts of teleportation also set him apart. During his second trick, he likened magic to a game, in which the magician tries to fool the audience and the audience tries to catch the magician. For a moment during his second teleportation trick, he misled the audience by suggesting he was going to reveal the secret to his trick only to set up an elaborate double cross.
James More, opened with a quick levitation act, in which he seemingly floated upon a metal rod. His second act performances were more extensive, and included more uncanny body positioning. Not only did he appear to make solid metal chains move through his body, he appeared to split is own body in half via torture device.
Mentalist — think of a less gross John Edward — Wes Mathison performed a series of impressive mind readings throughout the night. Perhaps the most heavy section of crowd participation (aside from Paul instigating a middle aged man to chug a beer) came from Wes’s cold reading of the room. He was able to intuit numerous incredibly personal details from a variety of crowd members.
Closing out the evening, Dabek emphasized the uniqueness of each and every show they perform due to audience participation as he performed a beautiful trick which saw a paper snowflake turn into real snow. The emphatic Spokane audience left the Spokane First Interstate for the Arts feeling spellbound, which was an absolutely magical treat for the holiday season.