‘The Illusionists’ brings its magical spectacle to Durham

Dan Sperry stars as The Anti-Conjurer in "The Illusionists" touring magical show, set to begin a six-day run Tuesday at the Durham Performing Arts Center. / Photo by Joan Marcus

By Rachel Teseneer
Times-News correspondent

   DURHAM — A magic show like none other is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.
“The Illusionists” is a show composed of a group of talented magicians who make it their mission to amaze and inspire audiences with mind-blowing tricks and stunts.
Coming off its Broadway run, “The Illusionists” are touring the states for the first time. The team of magicians came together just three years ago, yet they are now the No. 1 best-selling magic show in the world.
Dan Sperry, also known as The Anti-Conjuror, is one of the exceptionally talented magicians that make up “The Illusionists.” In a recent interview, though he could not give away any particulars about their upcoming performances, Sperry did give a lot of insight into the show as a whole, as well as his style of magic.
Sperry said that he has been fascinated with magic for as long as he can remember. He would do magic tricks for show-and-tell when he was in the early years of school, and he began doing paid shows when he was 11. Sperry related that for him, there was no special training involved.
“You really kind of have to suck for a while and practice a lot at home … The audience tells you how it is.”
Sperry comes up with his own tricks, and describes the process as “an idea that’s 30 percent there and just has to find its way.”
For Sperry, magic allows him to not have to grow up.
“I vicariously live through the audience,” he said. “It’s not about the performer as it is making something happen that isn’t supposed to happen. It’s like giving a present to somebody and feeling their excitement as they open it. You know what it is, but watching someone unwrap something you’ve given them, and watching their brain catching up to what’s happening, is exciting.”
“(‘The Illusionists’) is surprisingly not a dark show,” Sperry revealed. “It’s appropriate. It isn’t a kiddie show, but it’s a family event. There’s different styles that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.”
Sperry went on to mention that the performance features a spectacular amount of special events, including LED lights and pyrotechnics.
“It’s kind of an unheard of thing … We’re just a bunch of renegade performers.”
Sperry’s unique take on magic has imaginative and suspenseful qualities.
“It can be weird, and sometimes a little gross, depending on how you look at it,” Sperry said of his act. “But I do what I do.”
Sperry went on to briefly describe his self-given title: “(The Anti-Conjuror) loosely describes my approach to the word ‘magician.’”
“(Magic) isn’t a game of figuring it out,” Sperry revealed. “It’s about being amazed … There’s something special about witnessing the impossible.”
Prospective audience members should note that an 11 a.m. family matinee Nov. 14 will feature a 90-minute show without intermission. Patrons also should note that Andrew Basso, The Escapologist, will not be performing during this run of “The Illusionists.”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10-12, 8 p.m. Nov. 13; 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Nov. 14 and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15. Tickets start at $25 and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, dpacnc.com, in person or by phone at (919) 680-2787.

 Rachel Teseneer is a senior home-schooler and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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