The past few summers at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino have been full of cirque entertainers spinning in wheels, juggling balls and flying through the air. This summer, the only things flying at Trump Plaza are Jeff Hobson's jokes.
And as corny and irreverent as Hobson can be, he's the main reason to see "Carnival of Wonders," a magic show featuring the illusions of Mark Kalin and Jinger Leigh intertwined with the often hysterical antics of Hobson.
A cross between Paul Lynde and Liberace, Hobson straddles the "is he or isn't he gay" fence with enough innuendos and double entendres to make some adults blush while never offending the kids.
By the end of 90 minutes, Hobson will pretend to pee on an audience, cross dress, wear striped tights that are obviously not flattering and drive a golf cart made to look like a swan to enter "The Tunnel of Love" with a male audience member.
"I gotta get the duck out of here," he yelled as he drove his swan, one of the plethora of corny jokes that he would deliver throughout the night. "Marriage is like a three-ring circus. First, there's the engagement ring. Then there's the wedding ring. Then comes the suffering."
Along the way, he calls himself "Mr. Twinkles" and amusingly disco dances to "Dancing Queen." It's safe to say that Hobson knows no bounds.
Kalin & Jinger are certainly no strangers to Atlantic City. The magical duo has performed in various casino revues here since 1997, but none have been more zany and interesting as "Carnival of Wonders."
With a carnival theme that is cirque-like because it falls somewhere between reality and fantasy, Kalin & Jinger will certainly dazzle audiences with some of their illusions. One thing is for sure: they love to uses boxes.
At least five of the illusions used boxes in some shape or form, mostly with people disappearing and reappearing in and out of them. Some of them are fantastic, but the duo goes the box route way too often.
In one of the first tricks of the night, Jinger enters a tiny box that eventually has flaming spikes driven through it. Cue dramatic music. Some box tricks were better than others, particularly the Lady in the Puzzle illusion where Jinger got in a box that had the outline of her body on the outside. Kalin - who really looks to have the easier of the two jobs - removed the puzzle panels until all of Jinger was gone except her head. Cue crowd "wooing."
Even when they weren't jumping and out of boxes, there were some scratch-your-head illusions that had the crowd enthralled, particularly a solo routine where Kalin performed some amazing slight of hand with cue balls and a levitation by Jinger.
Hobson even offered a little magic of his own, including one cool trick where he literally spat out a card wrapped in another card that an audience member selected, never forgetting his comedic purpose.
"For those people who say, 'Hey it's up your sleeve," he told the audience after another trick. " I say, 'Hey, up yours."
One of the most entertaining aspects of "Carnival of Wonders" is its choreography, which makes some pretty mundane tricks look much more impressive, using the cast of characters well, particularly Jinger, who looks as good as someone named Jinger should look.
The bottom line is that "Carnival of Wonders" offers a lot of fun for the whole family at a great value. If you like quirky humor, decent illusions and can relate to the whole cast dressing up like they're in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" - including a dancing Riff Raff - "Carnival of Wonders" will satisfy.
'Carnival of Wonders'
8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9 p.m. Fridays, and 3 and 7 p.m. Sundays to Sept. 6 at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino's Theatre. Tickets $25, are available a the Plaza box office or Ticketmaster at 800-736-1420 or www.ticketmaster.com.