Penn & Teller on Broadway Review - Back Again

The Magic Men are back on Broadway at the Marquis Theater for the first time in 25 years.  The people are excited.  They are looking forward to looking for the way they do their ‘tricks.’  Well, I can tell you first hand.  I sat in Row B, that’s right, 2 rows from the stage. I was on the aisle, so I had a clear view of all the ‘tricks’.  I knew going in that I had a plan.  I was going to be the first one EVER to figure out how ‘it’s’ done.  I was so close I could almost touch the 6’7” Penn & the diminutive (5’8”) Teller.  I liken it to the Laurel & Hardy of Magicians. They’re entertaining, they’re funny and they also happen to be gifted in their craft.

Just a hint here:  you don’t have to turn off your cell phone when you get into the theater. In fact, put up the volume.  You’ll soon find out why.

Penn Jillette bought his first magic kit at 5 years old.  It was the Howdy Doody Magic Kit.  Now, if you don’t know who Howdy Doody was, ask your mother, or maybe your grandmother.   That is when Penn’s dream began.  He does all the talking.  Teller does none.   Penn is a sight to see with his grand style, and his power of verbal persuasion. Teller is a diminutive church mouse with barely a squeak and does a great ‘I’m a little teapot’ bit where he actually is.  As unlikely in personality as these two are, they met more than 43 years ago, where Jillette, now 60, saw Teller, now 67, swallow a bunch of very sharp needles and then took them out of his mouth all threaded.  He must’ve been impressed because they got together and we can still see that ‘trick’ in their present show.  By the way, I could see the tips of those needles and watched so very carefully to see where he took the needles from and how he ‘swallowed’ them.  When they say, ‘sleight of hand’ they mean it.  I saw nothing that gave it away.

Magicians spend a lot of time getting their audience to look everywhere else but where the trick is.  Not me.  I looked at where the trick was and tried very, very hard to figure it out.  Sometimes I thought I was close, like when they did the ‘saw the woman in half’ bit  I knew from the internet, cause I looked this stuff up, that the tables have a fake bottom where the contorted girl can put her legs under her while a pair of fake legs lies in the other half.  I was sure, absolutely. I told my husband to keep an eye on the bottom of the table.  THAT is where there is a fake bottom. 

I was going strong until they did the trick and then Penn said to the audience, me included, “I bet you thought there was a fake bottom on this table.”  Oy, he got me.  Then he took the fake bottom out and proceeded to cut this woman in half with all the blood and guts all over the stage.  The audience was shocked.  Poor, poor pretty woman.  Yet, she came back – in one piece without a spot of blood. And she was wearing the same outfit she wore before she slipped into the box. “How did they do that”?  I am still trying to figure it out.  And the old, stand-by ‘rabbit out of a hat’ trick, well, it’s a real rabbit.  I petted it myself.

Penn is very passionate about his craft.  He absolutely, positively, unequivocally does not believe in ‘magic.’  So, there goes the dream.   Then why are they the ‘Magic Men’?   Ahhh, because they are SO good at what they do.

To say that this is a typical magic show is a misnomer.  This is entertainment.  Surely there are enough tricks to boggle the mind.  But each trick has a story, and when told by Penn, it becomes mystical and, even I, found myself staring at Penn as he converted the audience into believers.  There is a great deal of audience participation so know when you go in, unless you are a mole who can hide under your seat, there is a chance one of them may just call on you.  But, not to worry, they won’t embarrass you; you’ll just walk away with that same thought everyone else has, ‘how DID they do that’?  And you just might take home a souvenir. 


This is also family fun.  So, bring the kids and the grandchildren.  Tell your neighbors and friends that they only 6 weeks to see this show.  They leave our fair city on August 16th.  If you want to be entertained and amazed, buy your tickets at Penn & Teller website.  The Marquis Theater is in one of the most exciting spots in New York at 46th Street between Broadway & 8th Ave.  If you go to the matinee, there will be plenty of things to talk about when you go out to eat after the show.  If you go to dinner before the evening show, you’ll still have plenty to talk about because what you think you will see may surprise you.  Enjoy!

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