Inventor promises shocks and connections
Illusionist Kevin James builds a roller coaster ride of emotions
Posted: October 23, 2013
Magic should be seen live, according to Kevin James. He is one of seven magicians featured in The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible a massive magic show that will play two shows at O2 Arena on Nov. 9. The show doesn't promote the magicians by name. Under James' picture in the advertising there is just the cryptic description "the Inventor." Others in the show include the Trickster, the Escapologist, the Gentleman, the Enchantress, the Mentalist and the Anti-Conjuror.
James isn't worried that his act will get lost in translation. "Magic is one of those rare art forms that transcends all barriers. Age, race, language, it doesn't matter. If you don't speak English you can totally enjoy the show. It's a very visual art. I'll use a translator occasionally if it's something very detailed, but many times I'll just turn on the music, go grab someone from the audience and don't say a word to them. Get them involved," he told The Prague Post, adding that for about half his tricks he uses somebody from the audience.
"The focus behind my ideas is to find some way to connect to the audience on some emotional level. And I try to make my material like a little roller coaster ride touching a lot of different emotions," James said. "Sometimes it's nostalgic. Some times it's for shock value. Sometimes it's to try to create a wonderful little connection with somebody in the audience. There are a lot of different feelings I try to create," he said.
James became interested in magic as a child and still tries to bring that sense of amazement to the audience. And he doesn't rely on the old standards. "I invent all my own material, so it's pretty new. I try to invent things that I'd like to see on stage," he said. He has also invented tricks for other magicians, including David Copperfield. Both James and Copperfield use a trick called "The Floating Rose," which James cites as one of his favorites because it is so simple.
When: Nov. 9 at 3 and 8 p.m.
Where: O2 Arena
Tickets: 950-1,350 Kč
But another trick is more of a show stopper. "The effect that is getting the most attention right now is called 'The Operation' where I cut a person in half and two body parts run around the stage and I staple them together with a staple gun," he said. It is a variation on the sawing-someone-in-half routine, but made relevant for a modern audience that has higher expectations. "I've eliminated the box, there is no covering. He just falls over like a tree," James said, adding that some tricks spend a long time in development until they are perfected.
The organizers of the show encouraged the illusionists to make the show as big as possible. "It takes three semi [trucks] to travel with the show, three big cargo containers. There's a cast of 40 people," he said.
He much prefers live shows to TV or film. "Magic is one of these things that is 100 times better live than when you see it on TV. Instantly you know there's no camera tricks here because I am sitting five feet away from the guy. There's just an energy in the audience that you can't experience on TV," he said.
And while many performers prefer clubs, he has no problem in a larger setting. "I'm not losing the energy in big stadiums, not at all. It may take a little longer to come here and back, but its still there. And there is nothing like the feel of a magic show in a live audience, a really good magic show," he said.
"I also have to mention in our live show we have an amazing live band which even pumps the energy more," he said. "It's the cement that holds the show together. There's a lot of original music that they play and just the energy they help provide is amazing."
The Illusionists is currently on a world tour, with three stops in the Czech Republic: Karlovy Vary on Nov. 7, Prague on Nov. 9 and Pardubice on Nov. 10. The tour has already been to Australia, Asia and South America.
This is the second of three-part series.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at
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