“You are the best Wednesday audience I’ve had this week,” said Joe Labero, to thunderous applause from the audience. The 51 year old magician was in town from August 8 to October 28 to perform A Night of Magic at the Raffles Hotel’s Jubilee Hall.

Labero was last here in 2013 for the extravagant and flashy Incanto at Resorts World Sentosa, According to Labero, performing A Night of Magic at the Jubilee Hall provided a more intimate experience with the crowd. “I wanted to have a smaller, boutique venue,” said Labero in an interview with UrbanWire. “I like this intimacy, it’s very nice. This old-style Victorian theatre is perfect.”

Even with a smaller stage, Labero and his crew manage to wow the diverse group of spectators from children to Australian tourists, with his humor and sleight of hand. For instance, the illusionist conjures a million-dollar bill from a single coin, a trick that would do wonders perhaps for lots of countries’ economies.

The notion that magicians have their assistants planted in the audience held no ground during the 2 nights that this writer watched Labero perform A Night of Magic. With keys, caps and foam bricks thrown to the crowd, it’s a heart-pounding game of chance for whomever would be picked to go on stage with the main man himself. The lucky guests are shy at first, but gradually loosen up and learn to play along with Labero’s bag of tricks.

Even though this aspiring magician writer had learnt a few tricks himself before, the 3-time Merlin Award winner still managed to baffle him and everyone else. Case in point? The bewitching levitation where Labero suspends his assistant above the stage and made her vanish, only for her to reappear at the side of the hall.

However, we did notice a few hiccups in an otherwise awe-inducing performance.

At some point, a coin or 2 accidentally falls behind the aforementioned million-dollar bill when the illusionist is placing them into a case. But what sets the modern day conjuror apart from the amateurs is his classy reaction to minor slip-ups – he simply closes the case, and opens it again to reveal stacks of bills, a la what you’d see in a drug cartel movie. The audience promptly breaks out in whoops and cheers without missing a beat.

“It’s like a good singer. If he sings falsely, you should not notice it,” said Labero of dealing with situations like the above. “If they’re good, they’ll fix it.”

The show draws to a close with Labero strapped to a metal chair on a strange-looking platform. A sheer silver cloth is pulled over him, and the chair slowly raised. And then the cloth is whisked away, but the illusionist is nowhere to be seen. In fact, he’s already scurried to the foyer to sign autographs and take selfies with fans. Just how did he do it?

At the end of the day, Labero quipped he is his harshest critic. “You have to improve and impress yourself,” he said. “I’ve done [magic] for 30 years, and I still want to impress myself. If you’re not critical to yourself, who is going to be?”

It was a phenomenal experience spent with Labero and although it wasn’t perfect, it still gave the 350-strong audience a heck of a magical night.

Photographs courtesy of Joe Labero/Anna Vinterfall