Broadway audiences members will experience both magic and entertainment starting this Thursday, with the opening of The Illusionists. I caught the show at a preview performance last week, and one of the cast members agreed to respond to some of my questions via email. Here's what Jeff Hobson, "The Trickster," one of the show's seven performers, had to say:
Q: Seven magicians is a lot to fill and take command of the stage. Why is it important to have so many so-called leads inside this show?
Hobson: While it's not necessary, it is a landmark. It's never been done before. We've set a new bar for magic excellence.
Q: In the show, it's revealed that all seven of you hail from different parts of the world. Do you each approach magic, and entertainment more generally, differently? It's a global discipline, but all of it showcased on one stage.
Hobson: As we've traveled around the world with this show, I can attest that having diverse magicians certainly has intrigue. Even though we are diverse, magic is a very small society of shared secrets. We have all learned the basics of magic the same way however, the difference comes with our own unique presentations each rooted in our culture. We are truly a global team!
Q: Magic seems to be making a bit of a comeback, but this show remains a bit of a novelty for the Broadway crowd. Why do you think we don't see that many magic shows outside of places like Las Vegas?
Hobson: As with many things in our world, media, Internet and technology charges with current tastes and fads. Even though magic has a universal appeal, it's never been more popular than now with the exposure on television and cyberland. I spent 15 years performing on the Las Vegas strip. But now, magic has moved its popularity beyond the glitz of Las Vegas. People around the globe want to see magic the way it should be seen. Locally and live.
Q: In the past decade or so, with the popularity of YouTube and other social media channels, magic itself has had to undergo a bit of a transformation. How have you adjusted what you do to continue to appeal to so many people at home trying to unmask the illusions?
Hobson: I believe that the Internet has only increased the demand for live, magic performances. The scope of interest in magic has exploded. I don't worry about the exposure of magic on the net. Real professionals can still do the same tricks and entertain a crowd. THAT's the secret word: entertainment.
Q: I know The Illusionists has been touring for some time now. What have you learned from being on the road for so long? Have any audiences surprised you? Do any tricks cater better to certain crowds?
Hobson: Being the Trickster and the comedy-relief in this show, I can tell you that comedy is tough. And even tougher when you have to go through a translator. Comedy may be universal but jokes and humor are not the same wherever you go. I'm a talking comedic magician. That's not your everyday fare for the families in Serbia.