Spectacular illusions – and a very hard sell

Why does this ring seem to be hanging in the air? How did these people get from there to there? To watch Antonio Diaz perform his many fantasies at El Magoo Pop On Broadway (Ethel Barrymore Theatre, through August 27) exciting in places. His magic seems to have been seen by nearly 3 million people. Having bought one theater in Spain, Diaz has just bought another in Branson, Missouri, which will be based in the United States, and he is the youngest con artist to enter the Broadway stage.

You may have seen a version of his most famous trick on Facebook today Showed recently, when – before the eyes of the audience – he seemed to transfer a group of people through the air, from one transparent box to another. A big con, he must have let thousands of spoonfuls litter bowls of cereal all over the country.

Diaz reprises a variation of this on Broadway as a fitting finale that’s worth watching. Unless he magically freezes time, or somehow there is an invisible screen between the audience and the stage and something fantastical going on with the projections, how these people got from box to box is a mystery. He tells the participants that if they feel something, they don’t move. And behind a piece of cloth we see some vibration where the supposed teleportation is happening. Whatever it is, it’s awesome.

At the age of 20, Diaz created his first company, and in 2018 he was ranked the world’s highest-grossing European visualizer by Forbes. show it on netflix, Human Bewitchment by El Majo PopIt was broadcast in 192 countries, “fostering its internationalization” states that programme.

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The theatrical show has its own thrills individually. But it is also, among these gimmicks, a somewhat plodding declaration of vital encounters in favor of Diaz; What clever bits of illusion that feel a little lost in a stage show with interwoven bits of self-empowerment, self-publicity, and blunt advertising.

In some ways, it’s gratifying to see an artist so proudly honest about what the show is about: selling a brand, selling things associated with the brand. The Broadway show is only about 80 minutes long, yet the pressure to aspire to be more than it is — a succession of stunts — is palpable. Its stride, structure and tone need a lot of work to disguise the connections.

The audience, through the use of either being chosen or using a throwing ball, prevails for the hour and for number choices and other small tasks and prompts. These are the building blocks of card trick setups: one strings together a series of answers that are shouted out by the audience.

Diaz’s skills as a prankster are impeccable, but the show feels like part of the stage. Diaz feels admirably responsible for his gimmicks, but not the show as a show. His audience interactions seem choppy and detached. A young child nurtured on stage was being treated lightly (not annoying, but weird). Another amazing illusion, Diaz said, required specifically female participation. But, after witnessing the illusion (which makes you rub your eyes in disbelief), this left the audience thinking: Maybe that was a male. Why female specifically?

Antonio Diaz in El Mago Pop.

Emilio Madrid

Near the end of the show, there’s a set where he flies across the stage and appears to be walking on walls, but as we can already imagine that fairly ordinary trapeze wires – as in many stage shows – make it easier to see in front of us, it seems explainable. . Cues from some settings to yee-gadzooks crescendo can feel uneven and swallow too quickly at the show’s bizarre pace, rather than letting their wonders hang in the air.

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In between tricks, and to give Diaz’s team time to prepare for the next moment of wonder, we’re given a roller coaster ride through his life, or at least his inspiration to do what he does. This includes scenes depicted in dramas and comic strips of him as a young child. These feel more like filler than revealing or deep. Around the edges of the stage, we see the flickering red vertical lines of the Netflix logo. At least for the show this critic attended, the camera crew was filming, in service of someone else, possibly focused on Broadway.

As baffling and visually stunning as it was in places, El Magoo Pop He also feels he’s in the service of building Díaz’s brand and marketing the products, and he’s been very open about that. There’s probably nothing wrong with this – Diaz simply talks about it more than others in the fame game. But paradoxically, in a show that relies so much on sleight of hand and things we can’t explain happening right in front of us, this obvious, obvious desire for product change erupts alongside the stirring illusions that Diaz is so happy to perform. Under the veil of concealment, mystery and surprise. As with his best amazing illusions, a little show-and-tell will really work wonders.

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