The tragic death of prominent American hypnotherapist and entertainer Dr Scott Lewis forced the Opera House to cancel one of the best-selling shows he had been headlining. The Illusionists 2.0 opened on January 9 at Sydney’s iconic venue, featuring a menagerie of magicians scheduled to perform several shows throughout each day until January 16. As Fairfax reported, alarm bells were raised on the morning of January 11 when Dr Lewis did not show up amongst his six colleagues for the morning shuttle bus ride to the venue. A subsequent police investigation later revealed that he had fallen to his death from the balcony of a Pyrmont apartment in which he was staying, and while police have not pointed to suspicious circumstances, his death came as a tragic shock to the thousands who had been awaiting his award-winning performances. Patrons scheduled for the 2pm matinee performance of the day were informed that due to “unforeseen circumstances”, the show was cancelled. The 7pm performance went ahead without Dr Lewis, where towards the conclusion of the show, the cast revealed that they’d “lost a performer” that day, and were reportedly visibly teary and shaken up. This situation is not dissimilar the death of acrobatic performer Sarah Guyard-Guillot during the sell-out Cirque Du Soleil show ‘Ka’ in Las Vegas last year, which was cancelled for three days following her death until it resumed as an abridged version.

The remaining five days of The Illusionists 2.0 continued flawlessly without Dr Lewis, highlighting an effective crisis management strategy for what is a real business continuity risk for events that rely on a key performer or talent. The Opera House dedicated the remaining shows to Dr Lewis as a tribute to the celebrated illusionist.