Legendary philosopher Aristotle once said that the purpose of theatre is to cause pity and fear in its audience.
Really? Are pity and fear what an audience wants for its hard-earned ticket money? It seems that Aristotle might not have been a big fan of fun.
What if a night at the theatre could inspire imagination, wonder, and amazement?
“When I was a kid, my mom bought me this Garfield magic deck of cards,” says illusionist Farrell Dillon. “I became enamoured with the wonder of doing magic tricks…and now it’s all I do.”
Masters of Illusion, North America’s largest touring magic show, comes to The Flato Markham Theatre this March 14 and 15. The show promises to feature large-scale illusions, sleight-of-hand, perplexing interactive mind magic, comedy and dangerous escapes.
Based on the multi-award long-running television show of the same name, the Markham show will feature Dillon, Dan Sperry, and Michael Turco. Dillon is a Vegas headliner and has appeared on just about every television network on earth; Sperry has been described as David Copperfield meets Marilyn Manson; while Turco brings New Jersey via Las Vegas to his much-heralded performances.
“You’ve got Micheal, who does brain delusion,” explains Dillon, “and Dan he’s a shock illusionist who does things like a heavy metal bird act–he looks like Rob Zombie’s son. And then, I’m a comedy magician so, you get all different kinds of performance.”
All three performers are cutting-edge illusionists who have been featured on the TV show to be sure, but they’ve also all spent a lifetime to perfect their skills and stagecraft.
“I’ve known Micheal and Dan for years. They’re both super great,” says Dillon.
The combination of hard-working, near perfectionist, ethics and youthful attitude and humour are the cornerstone of the Masters of Illusion formula. ‘Classic but Current’, as it is called by the show’s producers. They make an effort to acquire a team of magicians who blend both traditional acts and more unique acts involving both comedy and magic.
The TV show celebrates its 7th season on the CW Network in 2020, but the original version dates back to the year 2000 on PAX-TV.
The goal was to bring magic to a broader audience, but the problem was the artificial medium of TV itself. Producers had to make sure that all of the acts were authentically performed without the intervention of camera tricks or computer graphics. They hit an innovative stage and camera design that allowed the audience to see tricks performed in their entirety without revealing the magic behind the acts.
The TV show goes out of its way to be authentic, but there is no more authentic experience than the live show. It’s not just a series of tricks either. There’s meticulous care in building the perfect show.
“Creating the tricks is the fun part of the job but putting them together in an entertaining package is really the most difficult part of the job,” Dillon explains. “And honestly, it takes the longest too.”
“I have a performance map, and I have to hit all these certain kind of notes. I have to do them in a certain way to fit these positions throughout the show…it’s nerdtastic. I could talk about it for hours.”
Some audience participation is to be expected at every performance Masters of Illusion performance, but don’t worry; it isn’t mandatory. The magicians will also be available to meet with interested audience members in the lobby after every performance. They’ll be happy to sign autographs, answer questions, and take pictures.
“It’s always funny when people ask you to sign their body parts,” Dillon laughs. “I also have people ask me if my magic is real. And no matter how many times I say it’s just tricks, they sort of wink at me to let me know that they know my true powers.”
Masters of Illusion has been seen by over 100 million viewers on The CW Network and in 126 countries around the world. Master of Illusion has just concluded its 10-month headlining engagement at Bally’s Las Vegas, and this current tour is expected to be seen by thousands.
“We’ve played Toronto, and I’ve played Casino Rama,” Dillon says, “but it’ll be my first time in Markham. I can’t wait to get back to that part of the world.”
Masters of Illusion performs at The Flato Markham Theatre on March 14 at 7 p.m. and March 15 at 2 p.m.