Last night, I attended the Masters of Illusion Live show at the New York Community Bank Theater in Westbury, NY. I got to witness the magic of Drexus, Farrell Dillon, and Rick Thomas. Overall the show was excellent, though it wasn’t without its glitches.
Rick Thomas started off the show with a variant of The Aztec Lady, an effect originated by magician Robert Harbin sometime around the 1930’s. His beautiful assistant dances around and then steps into a box which is tilted horizontal and split into multiple pieces. Her had is still seen waving a scarf in one of the end boxes. The boxes are pushed back together and the assistant steps out of the whole unit completely restored.
The show continued on with various demonstrations of sleight of hand, comedy, mentalism, and large stage illusions.
Farrell Dillon performed an excellent straight jacket escape while on a balancing board, on a tube, on a lazy Susan. The escape was intermixed with his comedic antics and left the crowd with what I consider the most memorable moment of the show. Ironically, a humorous followup to some really awful “Thimble” magic.
Between performances, the crowd was entertained by The Monks who came out and performed cabaret style effects and antics such as ribbon dancing, a floating cane, D’Lites, etc..
There were a few issues with the show. For one, there was a lot of “close-up” and sleight of hand magic. Our seats were pretty far back, so these effects were hard to see. Adding video screens to monitor the close-up work would have been nice. One assistant’s timing was off as she attempted to “appear” before the apparatus was covered, revealing the method to anyone with seating off to the sides (and possibly those in front). A reproducing chair from a box effect would have been great had the stage been level or slightly above the audience, but with the stadium-style seating, one could see downward into the apparatus. Simply sweeping the stage between acts would have prevented a nasty fall (which fortunately did not hurt the magician, but could have gone much worse).
One of my favorite magical performances, is the artistic production of playing cards for which Richard Valentine Pitchford, best known as Cardini, is known for. I don’t believe this effect was meant for theaters which seat around the performer. I was able to clearly see the methods employed, but when discussing the performance with non-magicians, I found they were impressed and didn’t see (or didn’t realize) what I had seen. It’s a reminder that knowing how a trick is done can spoil the performance, and a good reason to uphold the magicians oath to never reveal a trick.
Overall the show was excellent, and ended strongly with a borrowed watch broken and restored in a most surprising, and comedic manner. You’ll have to check out the show next time it comes around to see it for yourself.