SCRANTON — If you search the Internet for a video of Kevin James performing his rose illusion, you might see him select a helper from the audience, twist a tissue into the shape of a flower, make it dance along his arm, and invite the helper to interact with it, too.
Then he pulls out a lighter, sets it on fire and — poof! — suddenly it seems to transform into a genuine, long-stemmed rose.
Will James reprise his flower act when “The Illusionists — Live from Broadway” comes to the Scranton Cultural Center for two shows on April 22?
“It depends on the fire marshal,” James said in a telephone interview.
Whether the fiery rose act is part of the show or not, James may well look for a volunteer from the audience to take part in the show. How can a fan increase his or her chances of being picked? Maybe by acting interested but nonchalant.
“If they’re too eager, we won’t pick them,” James said. “That means they’re going to try to ‘help’ too much. They might not follow directions correctly and sometimes they’ll be overacting.”
James, who is known as The Inventor for designing his own innovative illusions, is scheduled to be part of the show in Scranton along with six other performers.
“Everybody offers something different,” he said. “Every performer has their own character and their own moniker. If you don’t like something, don’t worry because two minutes later there will be something different.”
“The Anti-Conjuror is kind of on the dark Gothic side. If Marilyn Manson and David Copperfield had a baby, it would look like him,” James said, describing Dan Sperry, whose bio says he combines a touch of the macabre with his magic.
“The Weapon Master (Ben Blacque) is a very skillful shot with a crossbow,” James said. “At the very end of the act, he shoots an apple off his own head using five different crossbows (and a ricochet effect). It’s quite dramatic. Those are real arrows, really flying.”
Also on the schedule are Jeff Hobson, who specializes in showmanship and comedy; Yu Hu-Jin, who specializes in manipulation, and Colin Cloud, a deductionist who is said to be able to tell you what you had for lunch, what kind of car you drive and other tidbits you might expect Sherlock Holmes to figure out using various clues.
Houdini fan Andrew “The Escapologist” Basso “risks his life in every show,” James said. “He’s underwater, tied up, upside down. A lot can go wrong.”
Another risk taker is The Daredevil, also known as Jonathan Goodwin. His bio claims he’s been buried alive, hung by his toes from a helicopter, and sewn up into a dead cow. So who knows what he’ll do at the Scranton Cultural Center?
“It’s a beautiful, exciting, fun show,” James said. “It’s not a kids’ show, but it’s a show kids can absolutely enjoy.”
Speaking of kids, James was quite young when he began to study magic.
“When I was 10 years old and living in Michigan, I did all the kids’ birthday parties and Lions Club functions,” he said. “It was pre-Internet and the library had six books on the subject. I was the only one checking them out over and over again.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMTcomments powered by Disqus