The Illusionists Have DPAC Patrons Laughing and Clapping Their Hands with Delight

The Illusionists include (from left) Colin Cloud, Kevin James, Jeff Hobson, Jonathan Goodwin, and An Ha Lim
The Illusionists include (from left) Colin Cloud, Kevin James, Jeff Hobson, Jonathan Goodwin, and An Ha Lim
<em>The Illusionists</em> include (from left) Colin Cloud, Kevin James, Jeff Hobson, Jonathan Goodwin, and An Ha Lim
Illusionists include (from left) Colin Cloud, Kevin James, Jeff Hobson, Jonathan Goodwin, and An Ha Lim

This weekend, a talented troupe of travelling illusionists, The Illusionists: Live from Broadway, is playing the Durham Performing Arts Center for three performances only. Each illusionist has his own brand of magic to offer.

The troupe is comprised of five magicians with unique specialties: Colin Cloud (The Deductionist), Jonathan Goodwin (The Daredevil), Jeff Hobson (The Trickster), Kevin James (The Inventor), and An Ha Lim (The Manipulator). Last night, each magician took turns performing illusions that relied heavily on audience participation, and each illusionist had the theater laughing and clapping with delight.

The Deductionist (Colin Cloud) touts himself as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. He wowed the audience by appearing to read the minds of two audience members who took the stage, and even some of those in the upper balcony!

The Inventor (Kevin James) was our mad scientist for the evening. With his magic powers, he made a Charlie Chaplin doll come to life and accidently cut one of his assistants in half with his chain saw. Thankfully, he had a staple-gun on stage to piece him back together!

The Daredevil (Jonathan Goodwin) showed us feats of strength, such as lying on a bed of nails, or escaping from chains while in a water-filled box.

The Manipulator (An Ha Lim) was apparently made of cards; and while he was on stage, decks and decks of cards appeared from his fingertips, hundreds of cards landed on the stage as he gently flicked each card from his hands. Apparently, it is hard work, as he appeared out of breath when he finished his set.

It was all tied together beautifully by The Trickster (Jeff Hobson), who not only performed his own sleights-of-hand for the audience, but who was also the de facto stand-up comic and emcee for the evening. Mr. Hobson’s Trickster channeled Liberace with his flashy garb, Brylcreem hair and bedazzled jacket and shoes. He set the tone for the production as he glided and danced effortlessly from emcee to magician, throwing zingy one-liners at the audience and keeping us in stitches. As he said, “You know, I was a very small boy when I saw my first magician live. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a comedian!” Subtle, and hysterical. He kept the audience giggling and applauding, especially when he was teasing them. To one audience member arriving on stage to assist, he offered a hearty, “I heard your shirt coming from here!” The Trickster’s own garb made the joke even funnier.

The audience figured highly in this production, and a large portion of the show had folks being chosen at random to come up and join the fun. One of opening night’s stars was Alex, a 10-year-old boy chosen to assist with some balloon tricks. His infectious laugh and sheer joy at The Trickster’s antics gave us some of our biggest cheers and led The Trickster to offer him a permanent place in the troupe.

This was not a Las Vegas-level production, and we “saw behind the curtain” on a couple of the stunts that, perhaps, could have used a little more practice. There were also a few moments where the magicians needed to think on their feet, such as when the Charlie Chaplin doll head accidently popped off and rolled into the audience just before the transformation, or when a little girl from the audience could not get the paper bird offered to her to dance as it should; but these things were more endearing than disappointing, and really just humanized the performers of the show. In fact, we dare say that these moments only made the show better, because the performers handled them with grace, style, and humor.

In a world today full of shocking displays of debauchery, this show’s gentle spirit is a welcome treat for families. We’ve left out plenty of tricks for you to discover on your own. At two full hours, there is something for everyone. And you can get your little one their first magic kit. Don’t let the “Live from Broadway” fool you, this is a down-home evening of good, clean fun.

SECOND OPINION: May 12th Raleigh, NC Raleigh BWW Review by Lauren Van Hemert: and April 24th BWW Interview with Colin Cloud, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert:; May 12th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter:; and May 2nd Raleigh, NC interview with Colin Cloud, conducted by Kathy Hanrahan for “What’s on Tap”:

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE ILLUSIONISTS: LIVE FROM BROADWAY at 2 and 8 p.m. May 12 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $30 and up. 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

SHOW: and

THE TOUR:,,, and







The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible (2014-15 Broadway magic show): (official website),—witness-the-impossible-497601 (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (YouTube).

The Illusionists: Live on Broadway (2015-16 Broadway magic show): (official web page),—live-on-broadway-501250 (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (YouTube).

Colin Cloud (Deductionist) (specialty: “the Sherlock Holmes of entertainment”): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

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).

Kevin James (The Inventor) (specialty: magic innovation): (official website), (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

An Ha Lim (The Manipulator) (specialty: manipulator of mystery and wonder): (tour bio) and (Internet Broadway Database).


Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.