Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

The Illusionists: Live from Broadway
National Tour
Review by Gil Benbrook | Season Schedule

Also see Gil's reviews of Camelot, Hamlet, Is He Dead?, Guys and Dolls, and Fiddler on the Roof

Kevin James (left)
Photo by Joan Marcus
The Illusionists: Live from Broadway is part Vegas show, part old-time magic act, with a big dose of the more outrageous and stunning acts from "America's Got Talent." It's also a whole lot of fun. Featuring seven illusionists of all shapes and sizes, most of whom appeared in one or more of the recent Broadway incarnations of this show, the tour comes to Tempe for a week long run through Sunday.

The seven performers offer a wide range of magical styles, from mind reading to old-fashioned sleight of hand. The show is fairly well constructed in regard to providing ample time for each of the seven performers, though some have more to do or have more of a lasting impression than others.

The best of the bunch is Kevin James who not only provides an updated spin on the classic "woman sawed in half" trick but also offers a truly enchanting moment with a young girl pulled from the audience and a piece of paper that he turns into a dancing tulip. Also impressive is Colin Cloud who offers some mind-bending mind reading tricks that led me, as well as the people sitting behind me, to ask out loud, "how did he do that?"

The flamboyant and flirty Jeff Hobson serves as the engaging emcee for the evening and also provides plenty of comic moments in his magical interactions with numerous audience members. Daredevil Jonathan Goodwin's ability to lay on a bed composed of only one large pointy nail is as skillfully remarkable as his talent with shooting a crossbow at various items held by one of his female assistants. That illusion, especially impressive when he dons a blindfold, has a surprise ending that adds a whole other dimension to the trick.

While the show can be considered to be family friendly, two of the tricks that Dan Sperry does, one of which involves placing a quarter inside his eye socket, ratchets up the queasiness factor. Sperry's use of birds that quickly appear and disappear and also change colors in another illusion proves quite magical. While these five performers are each given a few moments to show their talents, the escapologist Andrew Basso is only given one time to show us his skills, in an updated spin on the water torture chamber, and An Ha Lim, while quite impressive, only has one brief segment to show off his skilled sleight of hand before he appears to provide one final, and fairly basic, card trick at the finale.

The impressive sound, lights and music are at the heightened rock concert level—always changing and almost always loud. While there are various shapes and sizes to the tricks, there is the absence of any especially large illusions, so many times audience members must focus on the large TV screen that often hangs over the stage in order to get a better view as the many small illusions unfold.

The most intriguing aspect concerning The Illusionists: Live from Broadway is that, with seven performers, even if one performer doesn't quite satisfy or you aren't too taken by the trick, most of the segments only last a few minutes so you won't have to wait long for the next one to appear.

The Illusionists: Live from Broadway runs through January 22nd, 2017, at ASU Gammage located at 1200 S. Forest Avenue in Tempe. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 480-965-3434. For more information on the tour, visit