Coverage: Masters of Illusion left the audience wondering ‘how did they do that?’
Special to the Daily
Four magicians mystified audiences at the Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek during the Masters of Illusion shows on Friday and Saturday.
Viewers leaned far forward in their seats, eyes wide open, examining boxes that a woman disappeared, then reappeared, in; searching for hidden cables or pedestals that could explain levitation despite illusionist Greg Gleason moving a hula hoop that completely surrounded the floating woman’s body from head to toe; or literally touching individual serrated pieces of the magic paper — toilet paper — illusionist Mike Caveney passed out to the front row before fusing the sheets together into a long piece, and then willing the toilet paper to rise and dance like a cobra.
One audience member went so far as to convince slight-of-hand expert Farrell Dillon to repeat his hundred-dollar bill trick a second time. When she took the stage, she frisked him and plunged her hand into his pocket, searching for hidden bills, playing cards or other clues.
Regardless of her deep inspection, she, and several other on-stage audience members, couldn’t fathom how things like birds, balls or bills appeared ostensibly from thin air. Even the frisky female could not figure out how Dillon presented the hundred-dollar bill she signed — as well as the original audience member’s autographed money — within layers of the exact playing card Dillon’s “victims” had previously chosen. And, it remained a mystery as to how Gleason not only “guessed” a random audience member’s number (42, selected by Gleason throwing a rubber hammer into the audience and instructing whoever caught it to randomly throw it to another person, and that person to toss it to a third), but also spontaneously creating a 16-square grid on a chalkboard with numbers that added up to 42 horizontally, vertically, diagonally and through the four numbers in the corners.
The show started off with a bang, with catchy music carrying Gleason’s disappearing woman act and Dan Sperry’s heavy-metal infused performance featuring handkerchiefs transmuting into birds, and ultimately, about five birds flying free and suddenly transforming into a large, white bird. Sperry’s Goth zombie makeup and black trench coat over tight black laced jeans especially stood out as he effectively mimed for the first half of the performance.
In the second half of the two-hour show, Sperry upped his creepy, yet still somewhat amicable, persona with voodoo magic. When Sperry tickled the voodoo doll representing his chosen audience member, she didn’t flinch — until Sperry’s last stab to the heart, when her body reacted in pain and defense.
The high-energy show slowed down enough for the audience to catch their breath and take in the comedy Dillon, Caveney and others delivered.
The entire show remained family friendly for the approximately 20% of audience members younger than 18, though Dillon and Gleason threw out a couple subtle sexual innuendos (that Gleason estimated 69% of the audience would get). Gleason even brought a 7-year-old onto the stage to share a heartwarming, life-lesson story, which ultimately united several separate pieces of thread together into a cohesive whole.
During intermission, it was as if the masters’ magic spilled over into the restrooms; for once, the men’s line extended outside the hallway, while no one waited for the women’s room.
At the end of the show, magicians gathered in the lobby to sign autographs and help sell kids’ magic kits.
Upcoming magic shows
If you missed the masters but like magic, it’s not too late to get tickets to illusionist Rick Thomas on March 13 or Piff the Magic Dragon on March 27 at the Vilar Center. For more information about the Vilar Center, visit http://www.vilarpac.org. The Vilar Center is located under the ice rink at Beaver Creek and provides a variety of programming throughout the year, including music, comedy and more.
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Vail Skating Festival to host free performances on Saturdays at Solaris Ice Rink through the holidays.