Whether it is fictional characters like Harry Potter or real-life figures such as Harry Houdini or the unknown magician who came to your elementary school doing parlor tricks, we all need a little magic in our lives. It was Roald Dahl who once said, “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Well, you can find it May 10 at the Crown Theatre. “The Illusionists– Live from Broadway” will perform for one night in Fayetteville as part of the Community Concerts season.
The production features five renowned performers doing the variety of magic they each know best.
Jonathan Goodwin is “The Daredevil.” Think Evel Knievel for the modern era. He performs death-defying acts such as being hanged, buried alive, attacked by sharks and even burned at the stake. The claim is that, unlike the other performers, Goodwin’s acts are not illusions but real stunts.
Colin Cloud is “The Deductionist.” He is the Sherlock Holmes of entertainment, if Holmes had a flair for comedy. He will know what any given audience member had for breakfast that day, what kind of car they drive or even their pin code.
An Ha Lim and Jeff Hobson have been part of The Illusionists in the past and are back again this year as “The Manipulator” and “The Trickster,” respectively.
The last of the five members is Kevin James. No, not the “Mall Cop” actor, but “The Inventor” who does specialty magic.
“I invent all of my magic,” said James. “I try very hard to find some kind of emotional hook to take the spectators on a journey with me. Sometimes it will be sweet and innocent; other times you can feel nostalgic and other times shocking.”
According to The Illusionists tour webpage, James is one of the most-viewed magicians on YouTube. He’s traveled to over 80 countries and headlined countless prominent venues. Even more impressive is the fact that he’s done royal performances like in the days of old magicians – for the likes of the Prince of Monaco and the Sultan of Dubai and at the White House for former President Barack Obama.
“This process from taking a scribble on a napkin to finally getting applause from an audience is very soul-fulfilling,” said James. “I plan to do this therest of my days.”
James, of relation to the legendary showman P.T. Barnum, has had his tricks in the acts of other prominent magicians like Doug Henning and David Copperfield. One of the most famous is the “Floating Rose” trick, where a piece of paper transforms into a paper rose before, finally, into a real rose.
“Scientists are the easiest people to fool and kids are the hardest,” revealed James. “The scientists are very convinced that they know how the world works, so you can play upon their assumptions. The kids don’t have hardcore assumptions yet. Their minds are more open. So they can find the method faster. The best-kept secret is that there are no real secrets. Magicians are guarding an empty safe.
“My favorite bits for me are when I am interacting with the audience one-on-one. You never know what they will say or do. There is nothing like seeing magic live and in-person. You cannot shrug it off as a camera trick when it is happening right in front of your eyes, inches away.”
“The Illusionist – Live from Broadway” performance will be at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 10. For tickets or to learn more about Community Concerts, go to www.community-concerts.com.