‘The Illusionists: Turn of the Century’ at Palace Theater

Rolling Back the Clock to the Golden Age of Magic

By Jonathan Spira on 5 December 2016
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Perhaps no theater is better than the Palace in New York City to take a step back in time to the turn of the last century, a time (as the evening’s host pointed out) when there were no mobile phones, and the very stage where no less than hundreds of luminaries performed, including Ed Wynn, the Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, and Harry Houdini, the most famous illusionist of all time.

I was primarily there to see the Clairvoyants, Thommy Ten and Amélie Van Tass, two Austrian performers who had appeared on “America’s Got Talent” to great acclaim. The two have brought their act all over the world and were named the World Champions of Mentalism at the Championships of Magic in 2015.

Unlike The Illusionists’ past appearances on Broadway, which were flashy and glitzy and clearly directed at a modern-day audience, the producers chose to give the show a darker and more mysterious mood in keeping with the style prevalent over a century ago.

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The music by Evan Jolly, whose credits include work on the critically acclaimed Netflix series “The Crown” as well as several Harry Potter video games, did much to set the scene and transport the audience back in time. Kudos go to Todd Ivins’ elegant stage design as well as the excellent period costumes by Angela Aaron, both of which allow the magic to take center stage.

While some feats are more amazing and death defying than others, the Clairvoyants are clearly the stars and most delightful component. Thommy Ten became interested in magic at the age of ten and by the 13 had been named the Österreichischer Meister der Juniorenmagic or Austrian Master of Junior Magic. He met Amélie in 2011 although, as she explains, “it felt as though we already knew each other.”

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