When Joe Labero was what it has been like to live as a magician, the 49-year-old Swede summarised it up in one word: James Bond. Just like the undercover agent, Labero travels the world and adopts a different persona with every new assignment that he undertakes. Furthermore, just like with Bond’s intrigue, an inevitable element of danger exists in Labero’s line of work.
“In Copenhagen, for instance, I had to work with 60 metre-long spikes that were really heavy and dangerous. One of them went into the back of my head and I had to be hospitalised,” shares Labero. The harrowing incident, which made the cover of a Scandinavian magazine, haunts him to this very day.
Nonetheless, the show kept going on. Come 8 November, Labero will embrace new characters and dangers in Incanto, the highly-anticipated stage magic show by Danze Fantasy Productions. “I have performed magic for many years; but Incanto is something very new and interesting. I play the Sorcerer, and that sees me taking on the role of an illusionist. The world in which the Sorcerer lives is very dark and gothic; the whole thing feels like a mix of ‘Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings,” he enthuses.
Incanto follows the fantastical adventures of a Seeker (played by local songstress, Oon Shu-Ann) who enters a seemingly abandoned monastery. Her childlike curiosity leads her into an otherworldly dimension where the most enchanting sights and whimsical of characters await, along with imminent danger. As her perilous journey in this forbidden world progresses, the Seeker finds herself thrust into a battle of good and evil between the Sorcerer and a Dungeon Master of malicious disposition.
The Wheel of Death. Photo: © 2012 Resorts World at Sentosa Pte. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
To breathe life into this multi-million dollar theatrical splendour, 50 international performers were reeled in. The impressive ensemble currently includes magician assistants, fellow thespians and rhythmic dancers, all of whom will be seen on the lavish Festive Grand Theatre stage at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore. The production will also feature Chinese acrobats from the Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe, who are renowned for their heart-throbbing performance of the Wheel of Death.
Even with the wide spectrum of elements being incorporated, Labero shows no concern about his performance being lost in the vastness of the production. He trusts Ben Russell, the Director of Incanto, to seamlessly blend and fit everything together in 90 minutes of visual family entertainment. “We have had a fantastic relationship over the years,” says Russell. “The creative process with Joe is always organic; that is why we keep coming back to him. I have not worked with an illusionist who creates anything close to what Joe can materialise on stage.”
While it may be easy to accuse Russell of biased exaggeration, the audiences will be hard-pressed to deny his claims when they witness Labero’s performance. Apart from the Double Levitation act, where both the Sorcerer and Seeker rise more than 10 metres into the air, Labero will also perform an escape number called Blade Runner, a death-defying stunt that sees the illusionist get shredded into half by a 6-foot buzzsaw.
Labero’s tenacity comes from his passion, which was evident when he said, “I live, eat and breathe magic and illusion. It is like an addiction; the way smokers have to smoke, I have to be on stage. It is the world I wake up to and I am very privileged to do what I love.”