The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t the only team using trickeration these days to earn the title of champions. Down at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, the Champions of Magic are dazzling fans with illusions that must be seen to be believed.
And even after you see them, it’s still hard to believe what you just saw.
The Champions of Magic have been selling out beautiful Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the past week with four more performances Tuesday through Friday. Tickets are $39 to $89, and that’s including all fees (you listening Ticketmaster?), available here.
I caught the Champions of Magic last week. The show is a little more than two hours of non-stop “How did they do that?” I’ve been a fan of magic my whole life, and the Champions of Magic are about as good as magic gets.
The Champions are a troupe of world class magicians, excuse me, illusionists who’ve taken this show around the world and have dazzled hundreds of thousands of fans since 2013.
This tour’s roster includes mindreader Alex McAleer, trickster Hollie England, escapologist (your vocabulary word of the day) Fernando Velasco, and the duo of Young & Strange. That’s their names, not their description, although strange is closer to young.
McAleer doubles as your host for the evening and does some mind messing reminiscent of Kreskin – “does the name Bill mean anything to anybody in the audience?” He doesn’t read your mind so much as play head games. He’s funny while he’s at it.
England does a trick where she swallows razor blades one at a time and pulls them out connected on a string. At first, I thought, that’s not exactly a marketable skill for a career, but thousands are paying to watch her do it every night.
Velasco is a throwback to the days when magicians were the hottest act in show business, when Houdini would visit a town and half the town would turn out to see him. In fact, Velasco does some of the great escapes that made Houdini famous. When he was 20, Velasco became the youngest escape artist to attempt Houdini’s Water Torture Cell, which he performs during the Champions of Magic show.
His lovely assistant secures Velasco in a straight jacket, then wraps him in chains. Velasco is submerged in a dunk tank filled with water. Since I writing this review, not Velasco’s obituary, he obviously survives, but adds a twist that would have leave Houdini bewildered. It’s a highlight of the night.
The show stoppers are Young & Strange who perform big, grand illusions scaled for the Hobby Center stage.
First there’s a woman in a box, the lights go out for a split center, and wait, now there’s a man in a tiger costume in the box. Where’d the woman go? Young and Strange close the evening with a lightning round of switcheroos, each time asking the audience if it wants to see “one more?” Yes, we do!
I liked that Young & Strange perform their act using an accomplice in a tiger costume instead of a real-life animal. I liked knowing that “no animals were harmed in the making of this magic show.”
I’m also glad that Verlasco didn’t drown in Houdini’s Torture Cell.
The Champions of Magic perform through Friday, February 17 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For tickets and more information, visit the show site. $39 to $89 (VIP).