For some time, Ms. Karen & I had been wanting to see Roland Sarlot’s and Susan Eyed’s Carnival of Illusion. I had read so many rave reviews about their performance that, if the show lived up to the hype, I wanted to add it to our “Things To Do In Tucson” Section of our Southern Arizona Guide website. So, I purchased two tickets on their Carnival of Illusion website.
They perform at both the DoubleTree Inn on Alvernon just east of Reid Park in Tucson and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. They do not perform in Tucson during the summer.
Arriving at the Double Tree, we checked in at the Carnival of Illusion ticket table and were told that we could bring drinks into the performance. Conveniently, the hotel’s cocktail lounge was only a few yards away. Moreover, we could pre-order our drinks so that they would be ready for us at the brief intermission. This we did. Two glasses of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Very good.
Finally, it was time to enter The Parlor for the performance. Passing through some heavy, dark drapes, we were suddenly transported to a different time and place, perhaps Paris before the war. Ms. Karen & I were seated in the front row, for which I had paid a little extra. I wanted to be close enough to the performers to see if I could detect how they perform their illusions.
As it turned out, we were seldom more than 6 to 10 feet from Susan and Roland throughout the 80 minute performance. There was only one trick they performed that I think I know how they did it. Otherwise, it was an evening of complete mystery. One mind-boggling illusion after another much to the delight of an appreciative, but mystified audience. These guys are good!
The venue was small – the whole room hardly bigger than our living room – which makes for a certain intimacy between a packed house of some 40 folks and the two performers.
Susan and Roland clearly delight in involving their audience … and audience participation was half the fun. For example, Roland asked a gentleman in the audience to take out a bill. Said gentleman proceeded to extract a twenty dollar bill from his wallet. Roland then asked him to mark the $20 with a black marking pen. The obedient gentleman scribbled his initials and also the initials of the state from whence he came – FL.
Then, with the trust of a 3-year-old, he handed the marked bill to Roland who showed it to the rest of us for verification. In the meantime, Susan had asked a lady seated toward the back to pick a fruit from a basket. She picked a large grapefruit.
With sleight-of-hand, Roland make the marked twenty dollar bill disappear. Susan held up the grapefruit so all could see that it was a normal, unsliced grapefruit. Susan held it as Roland proceeded to cut it open. And from the open cut Susan pulled a bill dripping with grapefruit juice. Roland wiped the bill so it wouldn’t drip all over the Persian rug and held it up so all could see. You guessed it. The gentleman’s marked $20 bill. How do they do that?
This was just one of dozens of amazing illusions – some might call it magic. I don’t want to spoil the event by telling you too much. Let me just say that the finale involves butterflies … lots and lots of butterflies.
Susan’s and Roland’s performances were quaint, funny, vaudevillian, charming, energetic, and at the same time amazingly sophisticated and highly professional. Carnival of Illusion … highly recommended! Go. See if you can figure out how they do that. And take the kids.
Warning: We are not able recommend the lodging or dining at the Double Tree. We have not stayed there but hear that it is comfortable and convenient. Not so much the Restaurant of which we have first hand experience and word of mouth confirms same. We are mystified as to why they have a decent Hotel/Resort but can’t serve good food. Let us know if you find out differently. We would like to recommend both dinner and a show. Perhaps we can find a fine meal nearby. Carnival of Illusion only performs at Double Tree. Otherwise, Susan & Roland have nothing to do with the hotel food or accommodations.