Previewed 14 November 2015, Opened 16 November 2015, Closed 3 January 2016 at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London
The world's best-selling touring magic show The Illusionists in London for a strictly limited season - with special guest star Jamie Raven from ITV's Britain's Got Talent
The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible is a fast-paced and entertaining show that features seven of the world's greatest magicians. This live stage show is packed full of hilarious magic tricks and death-defying stunts which promise to mesmerise audiences of all ages.
The cast for this London West End staging of the tour features the Magician Jamie Raven - runner-up in Britain's Got Talent 2015, this is his West End debut; from Italy, the Escapologist Andrew Basso who is the only person in the world to perform Houdini's famous Water Torture Cell with absolutely no covers; the Inventor, Kevin James who is known for his innovative illusions having created some of the most celebrated illusions of the last century; the Deductionist Colin Cloud who mixes mind magic and brain science to leave you convinced he's a mystical savant with the hypnotic powers of a calculated angel; and the Warrior Ben Blaque who has dazzled crowds across this world with his completely unique display of archery and showmanship. Other cast to be announced. Directed by Neil Dorward with choreography by Neil Dorward, illusion designs by Don Wayne, lighting by Paul Miller, costumes by Angela Aaron, video by Darrel Maloney and music by Evan Jolly.
When this show opened here at the Shaftesbury Theatre in November 2015, Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed how "the acts are always entertaining, sometimes staggering, and make sure to live up to the job titles they are saddled with, as if this were some sort of superhero team-up... It's pure showbusiness, pure showmanship and enormous fun." Michael Billington in the Guardian thought that, "for all its gaudy showbiz trappings, the show has a certain charm... When you cut through the cackle and the overloud music, it has some genuinely good acts that confirm we still go to the theatre to be pleasurably puzzled." Neil Norman in the Daily Express commented that the show "turns out to be a motley collection of seven magicians whose skills range from the spectacular to the none entirely original. Despite being glammed up with sexy dancers and deafening music this is pretty tame stuff and for a show that aims at blockbuster entertainment, the best acts are the smallest in scale... The Illusionists is intermittingly entertaining but given the wealth of talent in this field I expected more." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times said that "its repertoire consists of the vanishing tricks, cabinet work and mentalism so familiar to devotees of the genre... In some ways the most surprising aspect of the show is the extent to which audience volunteers are required." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "while each of the show's elements is quite impressive in its own right, the cumulative effect is cloying. No matter how much audience participation and nimble camera work we're treated to, card tricks and fluttering scraps of paper aren't going to cut it in a venue that seats 1,400, and the overblown, overlong nature of the more ambitious numbers in any case means the show contains fewer tricks than it should." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail explained how "stage magic shows have become buffets of the most frightful hokum — but quite watchable and clever nonetheless... The highlight of the evening for many was escapologist Andrew Basso who got himself out of a water tank, having been handcuffed and padlocked. Some 20 minutes before the end of this overlong campery, I rather envied him his ability to elude his gaolers."
"This show, first seen in Sydney, rides into town with not one but seven performers. Supported by a chorus of goths, the male masters appear in an overblown, pumped-up production that blasts the ears and shrieks for our approval. Yet we don't need to be ordered to gasp and applaud when faces are read, bodies levitate and cards are astonishingly transformed in front of our eyes... It's only a shame that the cheesy production doesn't possess the grace and charm their skills deserve." The Sunday Times
"The Illusionists has an identity crisis. Its posters make it look like a serious, Vegas spectacular and it tries to pretend it is, but it is not. It relies heavily on audience participation, lame gags and disappointingly small tricks... When the show is good it is great. There's no denying I was entertained when Andrew Basso escaped from handcuffs while hanging from his ankles in a sealed tank of water. There were also amazing segments featuring a skilled card-manipulator, a slick American comedy-magician, a mad professor and a man who shoots crossbows for no particular reason. When the show is good it is great. There's no denying... it is just a shame these highlights were broken up by weak, awkward segments." The Sunday Express
"Director and choreographer Neil Dorward smothers his line-up of seven male illusionists in naff, glitzy, vulgar, Vegas-style trappings. There are fabulous fireworks but also a chorus of dancers strutting and slinking in bruise-coloured gothic corsets and feathers, throwbacks to the eighties. Live, thumpy-thumpy rock music, peppered with Psycho-style squeacks, does little to rachets up the tension. A cameraman lurks scruffily inches from each act, presumably responsible for the 'live' video images on the screen, offering close-ups for those sitting anywhere further away from the front stalls. An yet, cutting through the crassness is a sleight of hand that is the antithesis of 'slight'. It astounds, amazes, dazes, delights and makes spellbound infants of us all." The Mail on Sunday
"There's a neat trick at the heart of The Illusionists. None of the seven featured performers could stand up a show on their own. But put them together and it's got to be magic, hasn't it? Well, not quite, because this is a bumpy magic carpet ride. You get charming card tricks from Britain's Got Talent finalist Jamie Raven, Sherlock-style mind-reading from Colin Cloud and Zen-like paper-folding from Japan's Den Den. But then you also get creepy interludes from Kevin James, whose mix of Las Vegas smarm and grotesquerie brings the show to a shuddering halt. And that's where The Illusionists come unstuck: these disparate acts have little in common, which leaves the pacing all over the shop. On their own, the stunts by escapologist Andrew Basso and marksman Ben Blaque are impressive. But spliced into The Illusionists' mix-and-match menu, they struggle to drum up drama. Still, the show is never dull. If you don't like one trickster, another will pop out of nowhere. It's almost magic." The London Metro
The Illusionists - Witness the Impossible played a four week season at Broadway's Marquis Theatre in New York during December 2014 when the illusionists included Andrew Basso, Aaron Crow, Yu Ho-Jin, Jeff Hobson, Kevin James, Dan Sperry and Adam Trent. This production not only became the most successful magic show in Broadway's history, but has also became the world's best-selling touring magic show, selling out in 71 cities across 17 countries - including a completely sold out season at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, where the show sold over 3 million dollars of tickets in just 8 days.
The Illusionists in London at the Shaftesbury Theatrepreviewed from 14 November 2015, opened on 16 November 2015 and closed on 3 January 2016.