The Illusionists Are Here! Meet Magician Kevin James

By Kris Kelly, CBS 62/CW50 Community Affairs Manager

I love magic.  I willingly suspend my disbelief and get totally caught up in the illusions on stage.  Last night’s Fisher Theatre performance of THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™ had me “ooh-ing,” “ahh-ing,” and laughing along with the rest of the crowd.

Seven magicians from around the world have taken over the Fisher until May 10th.  Each magician has his own specialty.   I won’t give away any details – you have to see them for yourself – but here are my favorite stunts from the show:

The Escapologist, Andrew Basso from Italy, scared me half-to-death as he performed Houdini’s signature stunt.

Aaron Crow, The Warrior from Belgium, combined William Tell and Cupid to create the most romantic -and scary – stunt of the evening.

American magician Dan Sperry is The Anti-Conjuror.  I’ve never seen a magician like him in my life.  His take on pulling a rabbit out of a hat was shocking and hysterical at the same time, but my favorite happened during the intermission.  All I can say is, “ewww!”

The Futurist is Adam Trent, also from the U.S.  He definitely took magic into the 21st century, combining magic and technology to create a fascinating illusion.

Yu Ho-Jin is from South Korea.  He’s known as The Manipulator and I’m still wondering how he did the scarf trick.  My favorite was his performance in the encore.  Since advertising and marketing play such an important part in my life, I loved the “product placement.”  Be sure to stay to the end to see what I mean.

My two personal favorites were the magicians with Michigan connections, Jeff Hobson and Kevin James.  See my story on Jeff Hobson, The Trickster, here:

Meet Kevin James

Magician Kevin James, one of the seven performers in "The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible"

Magician Kevin James, one of the seven performers in “The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible”

Kevin James was born in France in April 1962, but raised in Michigan.  This award winning magician has performed on television in 25 countries and created many unique magic effects used in shows of other famous magicians including Doug Henning, Mark Wilson, and David Copperfield.

In this show, he’s called The Inventor.  Kevin is described as “an inventor, comedian and collector of the strange and unusual. Kevin is one of the most prolific inventors of magic in the world and has created some of the most celebrated illusions of the last century.”

What part of Michigan are you from?  When did you live here?

I grew up in the very small village of Jonesville, MI.  I was here until 1982. Then I moved to Los Angeles to try and swim with the big fish.

How many years did you study/train to become a magician?

I got bitten by the magic bug when I was 10 years old.  I was all alone in Jonesville with no other magicians anywhere to be found; it was just me and 6 library books… and I was the only one checking them out.  Then I discovered Abbott’s Magic Company in Colon, MI. They had a big magic convention there every year so that’s what I saved up my lawn mowing money for.  I never had a formal magic teacher.  I just tried to see and read everything I could on the subject.

What inspires new illusions?  How do you create new illusions?

Inspiration comes to me in many different ways. Sometimes it is from literature, cinema, toy stores, hardware stores, craft shops, and even life experience. I start from the back and work forward, kind of like the way you would create a puzzle.  The most important part is finding a way to connect emotionally with the audience — to make them feel something and have a point of view with the effect.

What is the most difficult kind of magic to perform?

Anything that is new is more difficult. Sometimes it takes years to perfect an effect.  They are all works in progress.

Magicians often make something disappear and transform it into something else.  Detroit has a giant statue of Joe Louis’ fist in Hart Plaza.   If you could make that giant fist disappear, what would show up in its place?

I wouldn’t change a thing.  Joe Louis and what the monument symbolizes is unshakable and should never vanish, not even for a second.

If you use audience members in your illusions, do they see how it’s done or do they walk away just as baffled as the rest of the audience?

I do use the audience members now and again. My goal is not to fool them, but to share with them an experience that they will never forget.

My daughter has always wanted to become a magician’s assistant.  Got any advice for her?
I think she is aiming low.  She should be the magician!!!  We need more female magicians.  There are some but not enough.

  • If you have a daughter, you must bring her to the show.  Kevin brought one young girl into the act and, with her assistance, created one of my favorite, classic illusions.  Priceless! 


Everyone expects to see giant tigers or motorcycles or cars disappear/appear on stage.  Is there something unexpected that we will see when we go?

Oh yes!!!!  You need to expect the unexpected.  “The Illusionists” will crush many of the stereotypes associated with magic.   It is magic that breaks all barriers.  Age, language, race and culture mean nothing to us.  It is a show that everyone can enjoy together!

  • Expect the unexpected is an understatement.  This was definitely the most diverse magic show I’ve ever seen.  Truly something for everyone.


THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™ appearing April 28 – May 10, 2015 at the Fisher Theatre, located at 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.  Tickets available at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, and online at or

Kris Kelly is the Community Affairs Manager for CBS 62/CW50.  She has a passion for theatre, dance, and television and, of course, her two daughters.


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