'Penn and Teller on Broadway' Fool Us Vegas-Style, 15 Years Later
For the first time in fifteen years, Las Vegas-based magicians Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller--better known as Penn & Teller--return to NYC's Broadway stage to deliver an entertaining, fast-paced show featuring a combination of classic and new illusions in their new show, aptly called Penn & Teller On Broadway.
Penn (the tall, glib one) and Teller (the short, mostly silent one) have performed together for nearly four decades. As the Hollywood Reporter duly notes, "they have evolved from iconoclastic magicians into an institution, with scads of film and TV appearances and bestselling books among their credits."
Unlike most illusionists that are popular today--David Blaine comes to mind--Penn and Teller are not impressionists trying to wow their audience with ridiculous and sometimes mystifying feats a la Criss Angel. No, they are debunkers and deconstructionists of magic, frequently reminding us that their seemingly miraculous feats are achieved through mere trickery. In one of their mind-reading gimmicks, where Penn guesses the jokes randomly chosen by audience members from books handed out, he angrily decries the hucksters and frauds who claim that that their feats are achieved through genuine psychic powers. He also takes pains to assure us that, unlike other magicians, they don't use audience plants, mainly because they're '"just too expensive,"' so says THR.
According to Variety, the best illusion in their new show is "The Vanishing Elephant," which is a comic number performed in full view of a stageful of watchers recruited from the audience. It is quite silly and sure to leave you laughing, albeit somewhat baffled. Penn is at his best when he's fuming about something that offends his skeptical, cynical, irreligious, libertarian and quite contrary sensibility. These are evidenced in certain acts in the show such as the "Pyschic Comedian" referenced above.
Teller is Penn's polar opposite. His speciality is the simple, low-tech, no frills trick. The classic, silent spectacle that Teller performs is utterly beguiling. His signature trick, the "East Indian Needle Mystery" (which involves swallowing loose needles that re-emerge from his throat fully threaded) is surely as chilling now as it ever was when Houdini first performed it.
Whether you're into magic or not, Penn & Teller On Broadway is sure to be worth the price of admission. Of course, Classicalite has a few said tricks below to whet your appetite.
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