Back in the 1980s, I met magician David Copperfield backstage after one of his shows. I stared him straight in the eyes and described one of his more highly applauded tricks.
“Ok, just between you and me, how did you do it?” I said.
He looked around the room, locked the door and took me to a corner. “You want me to explain the trick, right?”
He walked up close to me and whispered in my ear.
“The answer is…it’s magic…” Then he turned and walked out of the room.
It still is magic.
Magic fans will get a chance to see some of the world’s best magic next weekend, Friday, November 11 at 7:30pm and Saturday, November 12 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, when The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays show stops by, bodies sawed in half and all, for a beguiling visit.
One thing that always amazed me was the audiences for big magic shows. You can understand why a seven year old kid is fascinated by the magician. But an 85 year old man? A 77 year old woman? A family of four, or six or eight? What is the magic behind all the magic?
Paul Dabek, one of the magicians in the show, thought for a moment.
“Your 77 year old woman is just as transfixed by a trick as a ten year old kid. She can’t understand it even though she has analyzed the trick from top to bottom and back to top again. But she loves being transfixed like that. She goes to the show hoping to be stunned by the magic and she is. Also, you, the audience, want an evening of entertainment and a different entertainment. The magic show offers you that. You just sit there and watch the show and all the magic washes over you. At the end, the 85 year old great grandpa gets as much fun out of it as the ten year old kid. When that happens, we have done our job,” said Dabek, one of the seven super magicians who make up the cast of the show. “We have very simple but spectacular, sleight of hand tricks and we also have big, big wide screen electronic screen tricks. We have, as one of he cast members always says, something in the show for everybody,” he said.
Dabek also thinks that the interest in magic is not only universal, but historic.
“People say, oh we had magic a hundred years ago. Well, we had magic a thousand years ago. People wonderment about the tricks is non-top and is generational. It will be the same a thousand years from now,” he said.
Dabek joined the show seven years ago and has been to six continents, innumerable countries and, well, seen everything.
What is the best trick in the show?
“The man and woman and kid out there in the audience. It is the audience that makes our show a winner. We have lots of audience participation bits and pieces and ordinary people in the theater get a chance to be in every bit of the magic, just as as we are. People love that. Our star? Our star is the audience.”
Well, the magicians in the show have something to do with it, too. “Each of us – the seven – has a distinct specialty act. We do that. Each of the seven is different. The people who run the show merge us together in a specific way. That big merge, and all the electronics, gives the show a great coherence that people in the audience would not think possible,” said Dabek.
Dabek has been a magician, amateur and professional, since the age of five. “Like every magician, I started out with amateur tricks that I rolled into a little show. By the time I was a teenager, I was presenting the show all over the town in which I grew up. Then I branched out as aa professional. I have done magic all my life and will continue to do so. The audience is hooked? Hey, I’m hooked.”
He stops for a minute. “Everybody has a part of him or her that, well, drives you. For me, it’s magic,” he said.
He picked an odd contrast – movies.
“You realize, watching a movie, that the men in its can’t really run that fast or jump that high, or drive cars that fast. You know it, but you accept it. They call it ‘suspension of disbelief,” but I think it’s something people do not just do, but want to do,” said Dabek.
He was looking for another contrast and found it quickly. “We are seven pianists working on a song. We get it and the audience gets it. You don’t need to understand the tricks. In fact, it’s better that you do not. You just need to let the magic roll over you and enjoy the sensation,” he said.
Will the folks at their show in Morristown be a better audience than other cities in which the show has played?
“No, they’ll be the same.” Said Dabek. “They always are. The magic just grabs you and carries you away. New York. Chicago. Las Vegas, Morristown. They’re all the same.”
Then he had to hang up, the line went dead, He was gone.
Hey, good trick…
For more information or to purchase tickets for The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays, click here.