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August 18, 2018

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‘Masters of Illusion’ packs a lot of magic into the Jubilee Theater

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Ethan Miller

Jason Bird’s cinematic illusions stand out in “Masters of Illusion” at Bally’s.

“Masters of Illusion” moves fast. That’s typical of magic-themed shows on the Las Vegas Strip, which typically give you just enough time to ask the person sitting next to you, “How did he do that?” before moving on to the next setup.

But this show, the big Vegas version of a long-running CW network program and touring production that opened at Bally’s in mid-December, moves even faster, skittering between varied styles of magic demonstrated by five different performers. There are large-scale illusions from Greg Gleason, who makes a full-size helicopter appear from out of nowhere, and Tommy Wind, who floats a pianist and her massive instrument through the air. There’s stylish, old-school sleight of hand from native Las Vegan Chris Randall, who rains playing cards and defies gravity to a soundtrack of Michael Bublé singing “Feeling Good.” Farrell Dillon brings the comedy-magic hybrid, performing a straitjacket escape while surfing Vegas-style. And Jason Bird crafts cinematic backdrops behind his magic, incorporating enchanting elements of storytelling into familiar illusions.

Yes, women are levitated and sawed in half using various methodology. There are jokes and dancing and costume changes and more. This is an all-ages, family friendly show that could have existed on the Strip 20 years ago — that’s how familiar it feels. But there remains plenty of charm in this type of production, and the fact that “Masters” is presented in the iconic Jubilee Theater only adds to the throwback Vegas vibes. Most important, there are enough “How did he do that?” moments to get audience members talking about the show after they’ve gone.

“Masters of Illusion” is presented at 7 p.m. every night except Tuesday inside the Jubilee Theater at Bally’s (3645 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-777-2782) and more information can be found at caesars.com.