ART’s ‘The Conjurer’s Club’: Virtual magic to do
CAMBRIDGE — Doing the trick is only about half of the job of the magician.
The other half is setting up the trick,and selling themselves as performers.
A good magician is also an excellent showman, with an outsized personality that has you looking this way while the trick is going that way.
A quartet of bright, engaging. diverse young magicians will invite you into their worlds for an online, engaging, intimate look at their craft in the American Repertory Theater’s presentation of “The Conjurer’s Club,” with live performances on Zoom through April 10.
The show’s premise is that the club is set inside a fictional century-old secret magic society where illusionists from all over the world gather to hone their craft and have access to the society’s secret archives.
It is an organic show in the sense that in putting it together co-creators Vinny DePonto and Geoff Kanick have eschewed trick photography, green screens, or any other digital tools. But, as The Leading Player sang in another ART show – “Pippin”– there is “Magic to Do” on the virtual stage, and it gets done stylishly, with great aplomb.
The illusions and tricks range from mind-reading and sleight-of-hand to coin and card tricks.
What you see is what you get, and the feeling is that you’re watching the show from a seat just a few feet away from where the magic is happening. And, virtually, you are. The overwhelming feeling is that the magicians are performing just for you.
“The Conjurors’ Club” features two resident magicians and a rotating cast of illusionists. The resident performers are Ran’D Shine, a renowned magician who’s appeared on “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” and in several documentaries, and Jeanette Andrews, a “sensory illusionist” whose work mixes magic, science, modern art, and optical illusion.
At a recent performance, Shine was anything but “all thumbs” as he marvelously manipulated thimbles and coins and produced a magical card that brought the virtual house down. The holder of several college degrees. he quit his job 16 years to become a magician, and then paid off all his college loans.
Andrews, a magician since the age of four with her first paid gig at six, manipulates the mind with the aid of a theater-goer recruited from the “audience.” Because of the Zoom format, the magicians can both see and hear from their audience and engage audience members to become part of the show.
Guest artist Eric Jones provided some stunning moments, the best when he puts a mini-Rubik’s Cube in his mouth and solves the puzzle using just his – believe it or not – mouth and tongue.
At a typical performance of “the Conjurers’ Club, the host – at a recent performance it was Kanick, the show’s co-creator – will greet the 40 to 45 online attendees, who will then be split into three separate rooms, with three separate magicians rotating through them until the entire audience is reunited for the finale.
Pay close attention as Kanick begins the magic by sending a mysterious email to an audience member at the beginning of the evening that will culminate in the show’s final illusion.
As the pandemic begins to wind down, hopefully some of the new and innovative ways performers have been able to reach out to audiences will survive, and that going forward, the world of theater can continue to reach out to those who may not be able to journey to a physical theater.
A ticket to “The Conjurors’ Club”includes both admission and a secret package containing artifacts that will be used to participate in the live experience. Household tickets for all dates are currently available at AmericanRepertoryTheater.org/ConjurorsClub and by calling 617-547-8300. A limited number of rush tickets for $40 will be available ahead of each performance (secret package not included).