(Cover Photo: "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. on October 6, 2022. Photo courtesy of Masters of Illusion)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
Cast Includes: Michael Turco, Naathan Phan, Dan Sperry, Kanoe Mann and Tiffini DeNinis.
Tickets are $59, $49, $39 and $29 depending on seat location. Please contact the box office at 877-571-SHOW (7469) for more information.
(Photo: Michael Turco of "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. on October 6, 2022. Photo courtesy of Masters of Illusion)
America’s largest magic show "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" is coming to the Hanover Theatre & Conservatory for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge Street, Worcester, MA. 01608 on Thursday, October 6, 2022 at 7:30pm.
The show stars magicians extraordinaire Naathan Phan, Dan Sperry and Michael Turco, all of whom have appeared multiple times on the hit television show, "Masters of Illusion," which just completed airing its eighth season on the CW Network.
The show also features magical assistant Kanoe Mann and Tiffini DeNinis.
This family fun show features audience participation and a Meet and Greet with the magicians in the lobby of the theatre after the performance.
Audience members will be baffled by large-scale illusions, sleight-of-hand, perplexing interactive mind magic, comedy and dangerous escapes.
This performance of "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" is part of a 14 City National Fall Tour of the show.
"MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" is a huge stage phenomenon born out of the multi-award winning television series seen by over 100 million viewers on the CW Network and in 126 countries around the world.
The stage show, "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" has been presented live in front of tens of thousands of people across the U.S.A. and around the world.
"MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" tours American cities annually, and has had residencies in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City.
METRMAG spoke with two of these magicians from the show as they ready themselves to appear (if not by magic then by chartered bus) at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester this coming October.
Naathan Phan (magicasianman.com) is a multi-talented, award-winning entertainer, hailing from Anaheim, CA who has headlined stages across the globe, appeared in films such as "Superbad," has been regularly featured on national television networks including NBC, Syfy, the CW Network and Comedy Central since the age of 23.
He is also a regular performer at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA.
Phan has wowed audiences around the world with everything from his high-energy, close-up magic and stand up comical shenanigans to this theater-shaking opera singing and his mind-blowing stage illusions and celebrity impressions.
"My brand and style is all about getting the audience to know me better," Phan says. "For me, I get to show another facet of my personality. My inspirations are (the magic team of) Penn and Teller, and mentalist Derren Brown who is a wonderful storyteller who is really good at the re-telling of classic magic stories. I also draw a lot of inspiration from other entertainers."
True. Phan not only performs his magic but also is highly adept at his assorted celebrity impersonations and, as mentioned, has an amazing singing voice.
Phan's "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" co-star Dan Sperry (dansperry.com) has been dubbed a "Shock Illusionist and Anti-Conjuror."
Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, Sperry has been described as "David Copperfield meets Marilyn Manson" and is the only illusionist to ever be awarded the title of "Most Original Magician" on FOX’s “World Magic Awards.”
While that term “Shock Illusionist” is used to describe Sperry's particular brand of magic (if magic can truly have a "brand"), he has also been compared, at least in presentation, to "Goth" rocker Marilyn Manson.
How did Sperry arrive at this particular “shock” approach he has mastered so well?
"Organically, really," Sperry says. "As a kid, I was always very much into magic and magicians. I read about magic in books, I was also introduced at an early age to the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the old Universal monsters like 'Frankenstein' and other monster movies. For a 12-year-old kid it made a big impression on me."
(Photo: Dan Sperry of "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. on October 6, 2022. Photo courtesy of Masters of Illusion)
From these movies, Sperry recollects how he became attracted to "the way each situation can be presented."
"Something can jump out at you and scare you," Sperry says. "Magic, as an art form, creates a platform for me with which to present material in that same way."
As Sperry got older, he also remembers being introduced to more alternative bands and artists like Marilyn Manson and he began to combine all of these influences into his magic.
"I was a fan of Quentin Tarantino's 'Reservoir Dogs' even when I was too young to really be watching it," Sperry says. "I loved how, as a director, he (Tarantino) used to build up the tension in scenes. I can’t direct a movie like that - but I can certainly use my magic to get that same effect."
So, for both Phan and Sperry, this begs the question: What was family life like for these magicians growing up as they each began their respective journey in this, their chosen profession?
Was there support from family or did their families want them each to pursue something more along the lines of an accounting job or perhaps obtaining a medical or law degree?
Both magicians respond that the respective family support system was always there.
"They were pretty darn supportive," Phan recalls of his family's reaction. "They knew how I fell in love with magic at about five, and they supported that."
When Phan got a little order, though, they reminded that it IS a difficult way to make a living.
"So, they suggested that maybe I should get a degree," Phan says. "But then, at 19, I got booking after booking as a magician. So, they soon realized that well, this seems to be working out."
Sperry, whose act includes the use of “razor blades, buzz saws, voodoo, blood and more” notes a similar reaction from his family to his “theatre of the macabre” approach.
"There was certainly support growing up because I was already doing shows at an early age at birthday parties and such," Sperry says. "They were always very supportive of me starting my own business. With the income I was getting, the agreement was anything I made would go right into savings for college."
Sperry also recalls how his parents ensured he maintained those "roots firmly planted in reality."
"If I needed money for any other things (outside of saving for school) I had to get a job to support those other things," Sperry says. "Once graduation came, they told me that they'd support me if I'd go to a university. But the thing is, I only lasted one semester - because I was booked onto a tour. Then, I got a Vegas gig. Then, I relocated and, I think, it was probably by then that the realization hit them that this was probably going to be my career."
Phan has received great acclaim by many media outlets including the Give Me Las Vegas who praised Phan as “…the perfect Vegas entertainer." Broadway World described Phan as having “Robin Williams-paced wit and humor”.
The Chicago Daily Herald referred to Sperry's act as “mind-blowing” with Broadway World noting it as “totally icky, yet totally awesome at the same time”.
Both magicians have achieved great success, with Phan holding residencies in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
(Photo: Naathan Phan of "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. on October 6, 2022. Photo courtesy of Masters of Illusion)
"I just finished out the Atlantic City residency and Vegas closed in 2019. Now I'm focused on tour," Phan says.
When not touring, Sperry holds court at the Griffin in Las Vegas and says that, while his preferred style of magic is a bit edgier in presentation, he claims it is still "rooted in old school type magic" harkening back to basic "sleight of hand and dinner nightclub magic."
"The shows I do there are very intimate parlor and cabaret type of shows," Sperry says. " It is like a speakeasy style and is only done once a week on Wednesdays when I’m town."
Both being part of were part of the hit television series “Masters of Illusion” on the CW Network, Phan describes the difference between performing live on stage and on television.
"When you are performing magic on television, the only kind of tweaking you can play with is really how long a trick unfolds (noting an average of about seven minutes per trick)," Phan points out. "On stage, you can play more with the audience, there's more ad libbing, etc. Whereas, on television, they want it absolutely to run under four minutes. So, there's a faster pace for the audience. We also have to change some music for clearance purposes."
When "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" comes to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester on October 6, what can audiences anticipate seeing from each magician's particular segment?
In addition to the audience being amazed by feats of magic, Phan says from his segment that, "they’ll just have a blast."
"They’ll get to see me show off, working on things that I've been developing for these past 29 years of my life," Phan says continuing. "Combining my skills to present the most fun things they can witness. I do lots of ad libbing with the audience. I want to make it feel like they are hanging out with me in my living room and listening to me cracking jokes."
Sperry concurs, indicating audiences can also, "expect to see a little bit of everything."
"Audiences will see some of the stuff we do on 'Masters' or some of our viral videos - and always there will be that element of surprise," Sperry says. "But there are also some very interesting things we do and, of course, with some of the magic I perform, well, that may cause a majority to bite their nails."
As to the "nail biting" - the show is billed as “family friendly” but some of the magic Sperry is known for doing is truly “cutting edge”…uh, literally…Will there be such high intense moments in which any kids coming to see the show may need to send their parents out of the room? Sperry responds.
"Funny thing is: When we do some of the 'meet and greets' and the parents see of some of the stuff I do, they tend to be the ones who are more squeamish - whereas the kids are all going, 'That is awesome! Do it again!"
(Video: courtesy of Masters of Illusion)
Both magicians indicate that there might be some crossovers. However, most of the show is performed as separate segments. It is this talent diversity that they say helps makes the tour unique.
"We all love magic so you can make it work," Phan says.
Joining Phan and Sperry on this tour is magician Michael Turco (turcomagic.com)who fell in love with the mystery of magic when he was just five-years-old, growing up in Wayne, NJ.
Spending summers just miles from the strip in Atlantic City, Turco saw every magic show in the area and was intent to master each trick and illusion on his own. He has had his own show in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood casino and brought a little bit of Jersey to the strip.
What can audiences come away with after experiencing "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!"?
"This is the best magic show if not the best show period," Phan says. "They should leave thinking 'I can’t believe they were able to do that.' We can’t use cheap camera tricks so seeing magic live makes it a unique experience and make for life long fans."
For more information and a complete Fall 2022 Canada and U.S. tour schedule and to purchase tickets, please visit the official website: www.mastersofillusionlive.com
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
(Photo: "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" coming to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. on October 6, 2022. Photo courtesy of Masters of Illusion)
ABOUT THE SHOW
Starring the world’s greatest award-winning magicians, "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!" is a 21st century magic show unlike anything you have seen before.
Filled with modern illusions and arts of deception, all performed live on stage.
Audiences will be held at the edge of their seats by the jaw-dropping grand illusions and laugh out loud at the hysterical comedy magic as performers from around the world combine fantasy, fervor and flair with magic created in front of their very eyes in "MASTERS OF ILLUSION - LIVE!"
Tickets are $59, $49, $39 and $29 depending on seat location.
Please contact the box office at 877-571-SHOW (7469) for more information.
Groups of 10 or more: Book your group early and save money! Reserve your seats here.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
Most recent Hanover Theatre safety protocol details may be found here:
Worcester Center for Performing Arts is a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which owns and operates The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allow