The magicians chatted to Emma Clarendon about being part of The Illusionists, which begins performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre from the 6th July.
What can we expect from The Illusionists?
Paul: The Illusionists is seven of the world’s greatest magicians all specialising in a different style, in a different genre of magic all wrapped together in one show. It features the best of their acts, the best of their material. It’s a fast moving show, something for everyone – no matter if you’re four years old or one hundred and four.
Are you all looking forward to heading to London to perform?
James: Oh I’m stoked. I’ve been travelling with this show for seven years. So to come home to London has been on my agenda for a very long time now and I’m very privileged to get to do that with some of my close friends and some other amazing artists.
How’s the show been received elsewhere?
James: All audiences are different. We went to Russia recently – their traditions are very different, they don’t clap until the end of a performance, Mexico they are entertainment themselves they’re having a great time so it’s interesting to see how a different audience will react from a different place.
Could you tell me a bit more about each of your acts?
Paul: Certainly. So I play the trickster and so I’m the host and in charge of a lot of the audience interaction and a lot of the comedy magic in the show .
James: I’m the showman so I specialise in the grand illusion so the likes of what you see from David Copperfield – big illusions on stage: dancers, lighting and all that jazz!
Yu Ho-Jin: I’m going to play with your mind.
So how old were you all when you first got into magic?
Paul: For all of us, I think, we were quite young when we started to do magic. For me the seed was sown when I was very young – when I was about three or four years old and my mum’s got photo’s of me dressing up as magicians. and trying to do pretty terrible magic tricks! But I guess I got into it more seriously as I was eight, nine, ten year’s old – I used to take books out of the library on magic. By the time I was twelve or thirteen I was doing paid shows in and around my local ares and it snowballed from there.
James: Yes I was probably eight years old when I got my first magic book – but I was more obsessed with the circus: juggling, plate spinning – I told my mum I wanted to run away with the circus!
Paul: Which you kind of have in a way! The show is like a circus – one day you’re there and the next you’ve packed up and gone.
Yo Ho-Jin: I was about eight when I first got in to magic. It was the card magic!
Paul: Ho-Jin is very modest but we will tell you he is a world champion sleight of hand artist so everybody for three years that we have Fism – which is our Olympics of magic, where the world’s greatest go and compete and get marked on all sorts of technical criteria that maybe the general public might not know about and all the secret workings and also artistic performance so Ho-Jin was the world champion for quite some time.
Who particularly inspired you when you were growing up?
Paul: For me, I grew up watching Paul Daniels and one of my big heroes was a British magician called Wayne Dobson who had a T.V show. Then a lot of my idols and inspirations come from the comedy acting world – so Robin Williams growing up with Mrs Doubtfire and Aladdin – my style on stage reflects that a little bit maybe. For me a lot of my inspiration came from films and comedians.
James: For me, growing up I was very interested in David Blaine – he used to have a programme on Sky One. But also David Copperfield – who was not just about the tricks, he was interested in the theatre and creating stories for his magic so it was a lot deeper – so that reflects in my performance as well.
Yo Ho-Jin: there is a magician called Lee Eun-gyeol – he is from Korea and is one of the best magicians in Korea and I grew up looking up to him. But today my heroes include James Moore!
How will the show work?
Paul: So we all have our main feature acts that we perform in the show, what we have been working our lifetime on. But there is also a couple of ensemble moments which I don’t want give too much away – but we get to share the stage together as well.
What do you think it is about magic that continues to fascinate and enthral audiences?
Paul: We were just talking about this earlier today and someone was asking us about technology and magic which is an interesting field in itself and we have one member of the cast, the futurist Adam Trent, who combines technology with his magic. But we were also saying in the world that we live in today that is so immediate and so full of technology – more information available at your fingertips within seconds – I still think there’s a need, a human need to feel wonder and to feel like a child again. You genuinely can’t get that feeling anywhere else. It’s why you might listen to your favourite band dozens of times but its not the same as seeing them live. I think magic amplifies that even more because that sense of wonder, that sense of how on earth is that happening along with theatricality along with all the other feelings we try and add to the show.
If people are thinking about coming along to see The Illusionists why should they?
Yo Ho-Jin: Well there is two of the best magicians from England – James Moore and Paul Debak and there is one of the best magicians from Korea Ho-Jin – I think that’s the best reason to come along!
James: I think this is one of the few shows that you can take the entire family to and is appropriate for all ages – from young children from the age of six to people of one hundred and six – which is very rare these days. You can bring your kids, your grandparents and you can have a great family night out.
Paul: I think that often when you say ‘it’s a great family show’ people often think that its geared towards children – but its not, its truly a show that you could come on a date to, bring your parents or kids to. It’s genuinely not just a family show – its like a Cirque du Soeil show – you can bring anyone along.
By Emma Clarendon
The Illusionists will perform at the Shaftesbury Theatre from the 6th July until the 1st September. To book tickets click here or visit: Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Encore Tickets, See Tickets, From the Box Office, West End Theatre Breaks and Last Minute.com.