You can't help but get excited about the prospect of magic's supreme duo Penn & Teller returning to Broadway for the first time in decades. And they're just as giddy as the audience and fans to bring a healthy helping of old and new tricks to theater's premiere stage.
Playing a six-week run at the Marquis Theatre, the pair pull off more comedy and entertainment than anyone else in the industry. Theatergoers may recognize one or two tricks from the past, but because of the patter that Penn injects in the production, and the silent and gentle beauty that his partner Teller delivers, there's so much more to see and enjoy here than simple illusions. The show is not built around mystery, rather a sense of acceptance and belonging. They dominate the stage for 95 minutes and leave you wanting to see more.
Not every aspect will wow you, of course, but there's such a diverse richness and diversity to the more than dozen tricks that everyone will leave with at least a few that made them happy and curious. Some of their staple illusions turn up, such as Teller's famous East Indian Needle Mystery, which will leave you marveling at the precision and care that goes into performing the same act repeatedly for so many decades that you wind up wondering if they can even stop.
Director John Rando clearly worked with Penn and Teller to give the show more of a narrative than a list of tricks. Penn's final fire-breathing trick of the evening is preceded by a sizable speech about the risks that go into a dangerous routine. It leaves the audience with much to contemplate and the show with a striking sense of grace.
So many of the biggest laughs in this production, that they've honed over the years thanks to a regular, popular Las Vegas show, come from Penn mocking what other magicians will say or do to deceive the audience. The evening comes with ample warning that we're entering into a space that that's so unique and different than anything else we've seen come across before.