“The Illusionists – Live from Broadway” takes audiences on an unbelievable journey of sophisticated magic. Seven thrilling illusionists change the way enthusiasts look at the mind-blowing talent with this amazing stage show highlighted by individual performances from The Inventor, The Weapon Master, The Deductionist, The Manipulation, The Trickster, The Escapologist, and The Anti-Conjuror.
From mind-reading to levitation, close-up card magic, and a daring water escape, audiences are in for what can only be described as a show you have to see to believe.
Magician and illusionist Dan Sperry takes on the persona of The Anti-Conjuror, combining the art of the talent with a dose of macabre to leave audiences shocked and intrigued. For fans of “America’s Got Talent,” Dan Sperry is not a new name. His gruesome brand of magic earned him an allegiance of fans during season five of the show, propelling him to establishing his niche for the freaky and shocking.
Dan first became interested in magic when his grandparents took him to see a David Copperfield show when he was 4 years old. Not exactly sure what he was going to see considering he had only seen magic before at birthday parties and libraries, Copperfield’s show left a lasting impression on young Dan.
“He opened his show with this illusion where he gets chained to a table and he had to pick the locks before this spinning saw blade comes down and cuts him in half,” Dan recalls. “The premise of the trick is that it goes wrong and we think we see him get cut in half. Adults understand its a very amazing illusion, but a 4-year-old kid like me thought it was real. I freaked out. I was the obnoxious kid in the theater reacting loudly to this. We had to leave the show because I was just freaked out. I never saw him get put back together.”
To help him understand what he had just witnessed, Dan was given toy magic kits, which jumpstarted what is now a passion. He began reading books about magic and studying classic illusions. After outgrowing performances at birthday parties and family gatherings, he started opening at clubs for DJs and music acts, an environment that allowed him to explore the darker side of his acts.
“When I started doing things outside of birthday parties, like opening for DJs or bands, or doing goth and rock clubs…I just started doing it like me, with how I dressed and looked,” he explains. “I needed a title or word that described what I did that didn’t say magician or illusionist because some of these places that I’d go in, people would be like ‘Oh, there’s a magician here tonight, we’re not watching that. Let’s wait to go in until the band starts.’”
Dan came up with the name The Anti-Conjuror by accident, searching for something that sounded cool. He began using it as a title instead of titles like master illusionist in an effort to draw in those potential audiences looking for more thrilling than a library magician.
“I think people like being shocked and little scared, probably for the same reason that haunted houses are so popular and ‘chick-flick’ houses are not a thing,” Dan says of the popularity of his brand of magic. “It’s a way to play make believe.”
Dan’s magic took off after his appearance on “America’s Got Talent,” becoming one of the most YouTubed performances. His painted face and grossly mesmerizing illusions shocked audiences, but it also left them wanting more. Viewers loved it so much, in fact, that one week after his first appearance aired, Dan was one of the top ten most Googled people. After his stint on the show, Dan began touring the country on his own show, earning multiple awards and honors, and appearing on several TV shows. This success eventually led Dan to “The Illusionists”.
The production began in 2012, opening at the Sydney Opera House. The show has since gone through several renditions and cast members, but Dan remains the only performer to headline every major version.
“The Illusionists – Live from Broadway” has found great success as the world’s best-selling touring magic show. The current North American tour brings some of the best in the business through more than 50 cities, including New Orleans and a one-night stop in Lafayette in 2017. What makes the show so well-received, Dan says, is its ability to immerse audiences in a world that showcases the complex layers of the talent, making it completely spellbinding.
“The secret to the success of the show…sure we are all good magicians, and that’s important… but the different stuff that everyone does makes the show so unique,” he explains. “All of the guys that are in or have been in the show, they show how magic can be performed in different ways. The diversity allows for something different, something for everybody. You’re not going to see the same kind of thing twice.”
Want to Go?
“The Illusionists – Live From Broadway” stops at the Saenger Theatre Oct. 25-30. Tickets are $30-$115 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.