Women lead the 'The Illusionists' on Broadway this time
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NEW YORK — The magic supergroup "The Illusionists" has returned to Broadway trying to stun audiences for a third time, but this time they've brought something missing from previous stops: female magicians.
Jinger Leigh, who performs with her husband, Mark Kalin, is known for elaborate illusions — like levitating and sawing someone in half. And the clairvoyant Amelie van Tass will be able to tell you what's in your purse while blindfolded onstage.
"What you're going to see is a little bit different than 'The Illusionists' you saw last year. It's the same brand and it's the same quality level, but this show is rich in history," said Leigh. "It's rich in costuming and character and composition."
"The Illusionists — Turn of the Century " has landed at the Palace Theatre with eight new acts. The franchise first arrived on Broadway during the 2014-15 holiday season and a new group arrived last Christmas, becoming the highest-grossing show ever at the Neil Simon Theatre.
The addition of women this time is no revisionism — female magicians were often headliners in magic's golden age. Leigh lists Adelaide Herrmann, Mercedes Talma and Ionia the Enchantress as pioneers.
The rest of the magical lineup this time includes Rick Thomas ("The Immortal"), Justo Thaus ("The Grand Carlini"), Jonathan Goodwin ("The Daredevil"), Charlie Frye ("The Eccentric") and Dana Daniels ("The Charlatan").
Leigh, who grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and performed in Las Vegas before meeting her husband and switching to magic, considers it a supreme
"This is the epitome for me. This is the pinnacle," said Leigh, who has previously played the Sydney Opera House and the Palladium in London. "This is THE milestone. I can retire after this, I think."
Van Tass is also onstage with her significant other, Thommy Ten. She grew up in Austria, adored acting and dancing as a child and studied social work in school. She met Ten in 2011 and they soon fell in love.
In their act, van Tass is blindfolded while her partner goes out into the crowd and randomly picks items from
"Some people think it maybe is a little tough to be like 24 hours together but we can manage it pretty good," she said. "Some people need three days apart from each other. For us, three hours are OK."
Leigh will try her hand at some lost tricks from the past, like the Okito floating ball, in which a ball hovers about the stage. She's also sawed in half with help from two members of the audience.
Both women said they never use their special skills for profit or revenge.
"In private life, we try to be as normal as we can," said van Tass.
"Right, we use our powers for good," said Leigh.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
In Focus: Richard Crouse