Grand Illusions

World's best magicians bring greatest hits to thrilling Austin show

World's best magicians bring greatest hits to thrilling Austin show

The Illusionists Andrew Basso The Escapologist water tank trick
Andrew Basso, The Escapologist. Photo courtesy of The Illusionists
The Illusionists Jeff Hobson The Trickster paper trick
Jeff Hobson, The Trickster. Photo courtesy of The Illusionists
The Illusionists Kevin James The Inventor snow trick
Kevin James, The Inventor. Photo courtesy of The Illusionists
The Illusionists Andrew Basso The Escapologist water tank trick
The Illusionists Jeff Hobson The Trickster paper trick
The Illusionists Kevin James The Inventor snow trick

Jeff Hobson has made a living out of stealing. He’s not a petty criminal, nor has he served time for his crimes — he's one of the seven amazing magicians featured in the thrilling live show The Illusionists, coming to Bass Concert Hall November 1-6.

Hobson aka "The Trickster" serves as the levity in the show that’s enjoyed two runs on Broadway and a successful tour. From funny magic tricks to spellbinding illusions to death-defying stunts, The Illusionists elicits a cavalcade of emotions in its audiences.

It also includes two extremely dangerous acts. Andrew Basso, The Escapologist, pays homage to his hero Harry Houdini by holding his breath under water each night for up to four-and-a-half minutes while executing his version of Houdini’s famous water torture cell trick. Ben Blaque of America's Got Talent, billed as the Weapon Master, plays chicken with domino effect crossbows.

“After all that you need some humor in a show,” explains Hobson. “I’m the one who goes out and talks to the audience. I also steal things, but don’t worry, I give them back!”

Hobson, a self-admitted class clown, became obsessed with magic at 7 and by 16 was combining his humor and knack for sleight of hand at parties. After working the corporate scene for a spell and spending 15 years on the Vegas strip, he was approached to join the cast of The Illusionists, which was created to be the best magic show in the world. The Illusionists opened in January 2012 at the Sydney Opera House and has been hypnotizing audiences ever since.

Hobson admits many come to the show bridled with strong skepticism, but he says they are quickly won over. “After the first 10 or 15 minutes even the most skeptical people will sit back and go, ‘Okay, we can’t figure it out, but let’s just sit back and enjoy it.’” He explains. “It is a show that makes converts out of people that aren’t sure they’re gonna like it,” he adds.

With seven of the world’s best magicians doing their greatest hits during an action-packed two-hour show, The Illusionists has something for everyone.

“It’s a show for those aged 5 to 105 — if you are 106, you may be out of luck,” jokes Hobson. “I guarantee if you are the least bit interested in magic, it will be one of the best shows you have ever seen.”

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The Illusionists plays Austin's Bass Concert Hall November 1-6.