Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

The Illusionists Will Perform Their Mind-Blowing Magic from Broadway to DPAC on Nov. 10-15

The Illusionists: Live from Broadway at DPAC stars (from left) Yu Ho-Jin, Jeff Hobson, Dan Sperry, Jonathan Goodwin, Adam Trent, and Raymond Crowe

The Illusionists: Live from Broadway at DPAC stars (from left) Yu Ho-Jin, Jeff Hobson, Dan Sperry, Jonathan Goodwin, Adam Trent, and Raymond Crowe

On Nov. 10-15, The Illusionists: Live from Broadway will perform their mind-blowing magic in the Durham Performing Arts Center’s 2,700-seat, state-of-the-art theater in the American Tobacco Historic District in downtown Durham, NC. DPAC will present nine — that’s right, nine — performances of this eye-popping potpourri of prestidigitation as part of the its bold and imaginative SunTrust Broadway Series. (The ninth show is an 11 a.m. “Saturday family matinee,” followed by the usual 2 and 8 p.m. performances.)

Conceived in 2012 by London classical violinist-turned-creative producer Simon Painter, in collaboration with Australian producer Tim Lawson, The Illusionists debuted on May 22, 2012 at the Sydney Opera House and quickly became an international phenomenon, with The Illusionists 2.0 and The Illusionists 1903: The Golden Age of Magic premiering Down Under in January 2014 and January 2015, respectively.

The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible made its Broadway debut on Dec. 4, 2014, at the Marquis Theatre, where it ran for 45 performances before closing on Jan 4, 2015. The companion U.S. Tour, which commenced on Nov. 19, 2014, will make its final 2015 stop at the Durham Performing Arts Center on Nov. 10-15, and will resume on Feb. 2-7, 2016 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA and conclude with five jaw-dropping shows on Sept. 23-25, 2016 at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL.

The DPAC show, which opens tonight, will star Jonathan Goodwin (The Daredevil), Jeff Hobson (The Trickster), Adam Trent (The Futurist), Yu Ho-Jin (The Manipulator), Raymond Crowe (The Unusualist), and Dan Sperry (The Anti-Conjuror). Their titles suggest their specialties. Goodwin’s forte is dangerous stunts; Hobson mixes comedy with magic; Trent’s area of expertise is technology illusions; Ho-Jin is a master manipulator whose illusions have an aura of mystery and evoke wonder; Crowe has a knack for mime, shadow puppetry, and ventriloquism; and Sperry has an amazing aptitude for shock illusions.

Jeff Hobson's mix of comedy and magic makes him an audience favorite

Jeff Hobson’s mix of comedy and magic makes him an audience favorite

“The show is a tour de force of all that magic has to offer, which is grand illusion, escapology, sleight-of-hand magic, and comedy magic” claims Jeff Hobson. He adds, “We all play different parts. Sometimes, we do ensemble pieces; sometimes, we are left to do what we do best, all alone on stage…. I’m the comic relief for the show….”

Hobson is famous — some would say, infamous — for bamboozling unsuspecting audience members out of their belongings. “I’m the practical joker of the group,” he confesses, “and I’m an honest pickpocket. I take things from audience members, but I always give them back.” His specialty is wristwatches.

There are currently three versions of The Illusionists, with interchangeable casts, listed on the show’s official website: The Illusionists: Live on Broadway, which will run Nov. 19, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2016 in New York City, The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible, which will run Nov. 14, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2016 in London, and U.S. tour of The Illusionists: Live from Broadway. “No matter who’s in them, it’s going to be good,” says Jeff Hobson. “It’s always a grand show, and we usually get standing ovations wherever we go.”

Produced by Simon Painter, Tim Lawson, and MagicSpace Entertainment and directed and choreographed by original Broadway director and choreographer Neil Dorward, the U.S. Tour features lighting design by Paul Miller, costume design by Angela Aaron, video design by Darrel Maloney, illusion design by Don Wayne, and illusion direction by Mark Kalin — all reprising their Broadway roles. The tour also features additional scenic design by Todd Ivins, musical compositions by Evan Jolly and additional musical compositions by Eddie Cole and Dustin Moore.

Simon Painter and Tim Lawson also serve as creative producer and executive producer for the tour, respectively. The tour’s creative team also includes associate director Kirsty Painter, associate director/choreographer Jenn Rapp, resident director Rachel Bickerton, and creative director Jim Millan ; and the show’s magic assistants include Amanda Esposito, Todd Hampton, Stephanie Potteiger, Kendrick Samuel, Antonio Hoyos, Edward Purnell Hawkins, and Claudia James.

Dan Sperry, dubbed The Anti-Conjuror, specializes in shock illusions)

Dan Sperry, dubbed The Anti-Conjuror, specializes in shock illusions)

Jeff Hobson notes, “We have a state-of-the-art video system with giant screens, so that the audience can see all of the close-up magic.”

A card and comedy specialist with what has been described as a Paul Lynde persona, Jeff Hobson recalls that he was bitten by the magic bug at the age of seven. “Being the class clown all the way through school,” he adds, “I naturally added comedy to my act…. I tell the audiences that whatever they don’t laugh at, that’s the magic….

“In the realm of magic,” Hobson explains, “there are only seven basic effects that any magician can do. There’s an ‘appearance,’ and there’s a ‘vanish.’ There’s ‘levitation,’ and there’s ‘suspension…. There’s ‘animation’ — making something inanimate animate — and then there’s ‘transformation’ and ‘transposition.'”

Jeff Hobson adds, “In this show, everybody is doing the A-material from their acts, and we were all picked out because we were not like anybody else…. This is a show that people will talk about long after the curtain comes down.”

SECOND OPINION: Nov. 6th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Roy C. Dicks:; Nov. 4th Burlington, NC Times-News preview by Rachel Teseneer for “Teens & Twenties”:; Nov. 2nd Raleigh, NC preview by Sarah Lindenfeld Hall for “Go Ask Mom”:; Oct. 29th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: (Note: You must subscribe to read this article); and Oct. 28th Raleigh, NC Raleigh interview with Jeff Hobson, conducted by Jeffrey Kare:

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE ILLUSIONISTS: LIVE FROM BROADWAY at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10-12, 8 p.m. Nov. 13, 11 a.m. and 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 14, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $35-$150. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or









NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14th, performance.


The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible (2014-15 Broadway magic show): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (YouTube).

The Illusionists: Live on Broadway (2015-16 Broadway magic show): (official web page), (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (YouTube).

Jonathan Goodwin (The Daredevil) (specialty: dangerous stunts): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Jeff Hobson (The Trickster) (specialty: comedy magic): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), and (Twitter page).

Adam Trent (The Futurist) (specialty: technology illusions): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Yu Ho-Jin (The Manipulator) (specialty: manipulator of mystery and wonder): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Twitter page).

Raymond Crowe (The Unusualist) (specialties: mime, shadow puppetry, and ventriloquism): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Dan Sperry (The Anti-Conjuror) (specialty: shock illusions): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Features, Lead Story, Theatre Feature