El Mago Pop
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Anyone who’s ever watched “America’s Got Talent” and wondered what the grand prize winner’s show might look like can now skip the flight to Las Vegas. Well, that’s if they can get to Broadway in the next seven days and see the extraordinary spectacle being offered by Spanish illusionist Antonio Diaz in “El Mago Pop,” now at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Without question, the 75-minute show (at my performance) is both visually and intellectually dazzling – and, luckily, proves quite entertaining for audiences of all ages and nationalities.
But in many ways, it also reminds me of watching a season-long journey on “America’s Got Talent” as each of Diaz’s illusions seem to get more difficult as the show progresses, and we also get a version of an AGT “clip package” that includes both an introductory short film in which an adorable young actor plays the young Diaz, who fell in love with illusions (including one that he re-creates on stage) at an early age, and an unpleasantly self-important filmed introduction to our star, which makes him sound a bit like the second coming of the Messiah.
So it’s almost surprising that Diaz proves to be disarmingly charming; he clearly knows how good he is but remains approachable as he works his way through the audience. Indeed, while I wasn’t asked to be on stage, he’s the rare “magician” I’ve seen who wouldn’t intimidate or scare me as Diaz goes out of his way to make his “accomplices” (often children) feel comfortable.
Just as a magician doesn’t reveal his tricks, I don’t want to spoil what’s in store for audiences. Like many “magic” acts, the show involves card tricks, sleight of hand, people disappearing in front of your eyes, and even one rather large object that appears from seemingly nowhere. (There’s also a candy jar you’ll be given when you come in and which you can take home!)
As with the best shows of this sort, there are more than a few moments when you can’t help but go “wow!” Unfortunately, there’s also a little too much downtime between certain sections, although I am unsure what Diaz and his director Mag Lari could do to change that.
Most importantly, I will tell you that I was paying rapt attention – and I still have no idea how Diaz pulls off any of his “illusions,” especially those that involve audience participation. Could every “civilian” who participates in the show be a “plant”? I seriously doubt it.
In life, many things need to be seen to be believed. “El Mago Pop” firmly fits into this category!
By Brian Scott Lipton