- Brett Turner Contributing Writer
Not many people can say their career is based on the phrase “Don’t try this at home.”
As The Illusionists’ resident escape artist and daredevil, Jonathan Goodwin’s resume includes being buried alive, escaping from a straightjacket while on fire, hanged, swimming with sharks and even being sewn inside a cow. And he’s the only member of the talented troupe whose feats are based on secrets or hidden methods.
“People in the first five rows of the audience can feel the heat when I’m set on fire,” the British-born Goodwin said.
For the third consecutive year, Goodwin and “The Illusionsists – Live from Broadway” will launch their North American tour at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.
With fresh illusions and performers, the magic will be back for two shows – 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Kuss Auditorium.
The show is presented by the Clark State Performing Arts Center.
It’s not by chance The Illusionists have selected Springfield as their starting point for tours. Goodwin thinks it’s something of a good luck token given its two previous successful tours, of which he’s been in each that have resulted in it becoming the most successful such magic touring show in North American history.
“It’s a really great theater. We have a great relationship with the staff, which is fantastic, and the Springfield audience,” he said.
This time out, Goodwin will demonstrate his marksmanship by shooting small objects with a crossbow to an assistant who says has learned to trust his skills. He spends a huge amount of time preparing to make sure both are safe.
Goodwin’s inspiration is perhaps the oldest and best known escape artist – Harry Houdini.
“My job is to take people to the edge of their seats, anticipating something could happen to me,” he said. “These are all original ideas. What I enjoy most is the creative process of coming up with new ones.”
Another advantage is as the tour goes on he can come up with new finishes and tweaks, so if you saw the show here then a later date in another town it may not be quite the same.
A new Illusionist is Colin Cloud, The Deductionist, who was on the most recent season of “America’s Got Talent,” and can tell complete strangers about themselves just by looking at them.
“The great thing about ‘The Illusionists’ is we all have camaraderie, we’re not competing,” Goodwin said.
Although he’s got several new stunts he wants to save for the audience, one Goodwin teases is laying on a bed of nails with the least amount of nails ever.
He was pleased by the social media response from Springfield audiences supporting him and excited for the upcoming show. Now he’ll have to make sure they stay on the edge of their seats.
“I’m still trying to work out whether I’m crazy or stupid. I’ll let Springfield decide,” Goodwin said with a laugh.