The Illusionists: (From left) Inventor Kevin James, Enchantress Jinger Leigh, Escapologist Andrew Basso, Gentleman Mark Kalin, Mentalist Philip Escoffey, Anti-Conjuror Dan Sperry and Trickster Jeff Hobson (front) pose for XPRESS xpress/ FRancois Nel Image Credit: XPRESS/ Francois Nel

DUBAI: I am sitting across the table with seven of the world’s greatest illusionists and I am under no illusion. Yet one of them gets the better of me by asking me to put out my empty hands and conjures up two little balls from them.

He prefers to introduce himself as “Doesn’t Matter” but it’s obvious he does. The trickster of the team, Jeff Hobson from the US, is the man with the funniest bone. At least that’s the impression he leaves in an XPRESS interview with the seven star illusionists ahead of their spectacular show in Dubai beginning August 28.

Mac S. Far, CEO of the show’s organiser Alchemy Projects, said the Illusionists Show is a first-of-its-kind treat as seven of the world’s greatest illusionists have come together in a “giant touring Illusion spectacular”.

He said the show, currently on a world tour, has sold out in every country where it has played. It is the first time that an illusion show of this scale has toured the world with such a calibre of cast and the first time they are showcasing their talent as a team.

Perfect masters

“From mind-bending acts of mentalism, jaw dropping feats of escapology, sleight of hand and giant scale grand illusion, all backed up with video projection and an amazing live score,” Far said, adding that UAE residents can expect the very best at the show.

The extravaganza features seven main illusionists and 20 assistants. Each has a character name that best describes what he or she does. Each is a master with a perfect art form.

“Inventor” Kevin James, for instance, is known for his innovations. His tricks are performed by such stars as David Copperfield and Nicolas Cage (in the Hollywood film Adaptation). His acts to watch out for include those with a floating rose and a chain saw.

To those who may wonder if there’s a difference between magic and illusion, James explains: “It’s a matter of semantics – we create the same sense of wonder. But I can tell you the illusionist show is a thousand times better live as there are no camera tricks. You can feel the energy and there’s an unmistakable synergy between the performers and the audience.”

According to Far, “Illusionists predominantly perform on stage, whereas magicians sometimes perform just close-up magic, but the term Illusionist and magician is very similar.”

“Mentalist” Philip Escoffey said James’ floating rose act is the most challenging and enchanting in the show. The British-Swiss mind meddler specialises in reading minds. He is intrigued by the fact people believe in things that make them feel better. An expert on “Britain’s Psychic Challenge”, he presented the magic game show Impossible? for Channel 5. His shows at the Sydney Opera House and other platforms have earned him great fame.

Equally accomplished is Mark Kalin, the “Gentleman”. Known for his deception and sleight of hand, his illusions at casinos, performing arts centres, television shows and his own experimental theatre in Reno, Nevada, The Magic Underground, have set him in a class apart.

His fast-paced performances with Jinger Leigh, the “Enchantress”, have left audiences spell-bound. They’ve done daring acts with wild animals and even made an American Airlines jumbo jet disappear at the Hilton Reno.

Leigh said it’s difficult to quantify the number of acts in the ongoing show. “Each illusionist will be offering a few. The show will also have some fantastic dancing and singing by a live band,” she said.

Another star in his own right is “Anti-conjuror” Dan Sperry who has over 15 million YouTube hits to his credit. The “shock illusionist”, he is only for the brave hearts. His magic is a depiction of the “bizarre and the macabre”.

Also packed with action is “Escapologist” Andrew Basso from Italy whose thrilling escapes under water, in the air and everywhere in between have made him a runaway hit. “Explosives, water boxes, handcuffs, chains, padlocks, straightjackets, cars bursting into flames... his escapes place him within seconds of life and death and have audiences all over Europe and North America frozen in suspense and disbelief.”

To get a feel of the real stuff though, there’s no substitute to being at the show itself which will go on at the Dubai World Trade Centre till September 7. Tickets are available on www.TixBox.com.


The Illusionists

WHEN: Until September 7

WHERE: Dubai World Trade Centre

TICKETS: Dh250, Dh300, Dh400, Dh500, Dh1,200, Dh1,350, Dh1,500, Dh2,000, Dh2,500

CALL: 056-133 3268