Spellbinding phantasmagoria

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What better way to spend the first day of the new year than to watch Spellbound? I went into the Big Dome anticipating an unforgettable magic show and went out hoping the magic will spread throughout my 2006.

I was sort of wondering why Disney's Holiday on Ice wasn't the featured Christmas production at the Araneta Coliseum for 2005, but Spellbound didn't disappoint, except for how it started half an hour late. It imported 14 dancers plus three specialty acts with an international cast.

The Majestix, comprised of Michael Giles and Stacey Jones, got top billing for featuring various illusions. You have her disappearing into the littlest of folded boxes, sliced through with three swords even. There's her poking her head, hands and feet into a life-sized puzzle that he shuffle-slides the pieces of, and you wonder how she remains intact behind it. She must be one flexible lady. Then there's him appearing out of the fire as if a newborn phoenix. And the finale is her resting her legs and feet in the air like it's the most natural thing in the world while "sleeping."

Between The Majestix are the specialty acts, which required some audience participation. The first of these was Jackson Rayne's envelope trick, whereby a card picked out by someone from a deck appeared in one of the envelopes picked out at random from those distributed to those seated near the front. A rather silly "toilet paper trick" followed, and his getting-out-of-a-straitjacket weren't met with the loudest of applause, either. I would have liked to see more of what earned him the epithet modern-day Houdini.



The next specialty act was Human Design, a trio of muscular men who must weigh like balloons. Luminous in their silvery complexion (I wager it's body paint) and illuminated by neon lights, they get into all forms of human knots, pyramids, and other gravity-defying choreographies. If you ask me, they served the real illusions of the whole show.

The most audience-friendly of the acts, however, was the Los Huincas Gauchos, a drum-beating and weapon-wielding Argentinian duo named Tuco and Martin. The former amused the crowd by uttering some Filipino phrases and displaying a mastery and control of boleadoras, weapons used to trip animals by catching their legs. The marvel is not getting caught at all and even dancing in step to the music. The latter, meanwhile, kept at his drums, producing beats that almost got the audiences to their feet. Their music and humor were a perfect combination that was new in these parts, and it's no surprise that their routine has been awarded Best Specialty Act in Las Vegas.

Spellbound is a 90-minute world-class show that could wow you if you let it. A childlike wonder is a requisite and at least 300 bucks for a ticket. You have a week left to catch it!

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