Someone will ‘get cut in half’ at Beaver Creek
Vail, CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” “When I grow up I’m going to be a magician.”
That’s what Kevin Spencer told his mom and dad as a little kid growing up in small-town Indiana. After seeing a magician on TV for the first time he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life and he has stayed true to his vision.
His parents bought him a basic magic kit when he was 7-years-old from which he started to learn the craft that would become a hobby, then a career.
Now, as an adult, Spencer still has the same passion for magic that he did as a child.
For the past decade, he and his wife, Cindy, have been touring the world with their Theatre of Illusion spectacle, wowing audiences with a combination of Broadway-style theater and mind-blowing magic tricks. They will try to do the same for their audience at the Vilar Performing Arts Center during a trio of shows that starts tomorrow night.
“When we’re children we’re fascinated by the simple things… as we get older we get so caught up in everyday life. What I really want to do in our show is help people rediscover wonder (and) amazement,” Kevin Spencer said from his tour bus in the Tennessee mountains.
So, to follow through on this desire, he includes such illusions as crawling through an industrial-size fan while it’s spinning at full-speed; an underwater escape; and walking through a brick wall ” a trick that took him two years to perfect. The brick wall illusion was taken from an old Houdini routine, and according to Spencer, nobody else has performed the trick since 1914.
Of course, these tricks are far more advanced than the ones he first did as a kid ” like making silk scarves disappear ” but the basic psychological principles are the same, Spencer said.
For him, it’s all about trying to make the audience amazed that the illusion was even performed at all, not by how it was performed.
“Looking out over the audience and watching jaws drop, there’s no way to put that into words,” Spencer said.
Giving the audience what they want is a challenge that the Theatre of Illusion crew delights in attempting each time they take the stage. There are certain things that Spencer knows every audience member comes to see. Making standard illusions unique to his style and delivery has become second-nature to him and his team.
“We learned a long time ago when people come to an illusion show or a magic show they expect to see somebody get cut in half, so we do that, but we try to do it in a way that they haven’t seen before,” Spencer said.
Spencer chose “Theatre of Illusion” as the name of their act for a very specific reason: It combines he and his wife’s love of theater and passion for magic. They only choose illusions that they can fuse with a heavy element of showmanship in hopes of breaking people’s stereotypes of what a magician and illusionist is, Spencer said.
Nate Goldberg, product manager for the Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center, took four nephews and one niece to see the Theatre of Illusion last year and said that they had a good time and were very entertained by the show.
The show is geared towards a family audience, Goldberg said, which made it the ideal gift for his young relatives.
“They do all the classic tricks, sawing in half, they use swords, all the magical tricks of the trade … But it is neat the way that they do focus on the delivery towards the kids,” Goldberg said.
Spencer’s goal is for the audience to leave the show having experienced a full range of emotions and for this reason Spencer chooses acts that build suspense, contain humor, and challenges beliefs.
“It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions and very much a kind of sensory overload of sights and sounds,” Spencer said.
One thing that Spencer never tires of is the audience participation portions of the show. Every audience has its own personality and attitude, which prevents the Theatre of Illusion crew from becoming stagnant. They have to constantly be on the lookout for curveballs thrown by crowd participants, but this is Spencer’s favorite part of performing, he said.
“It is the one thing in the show that is never constant. When you start getting people from the audience on the stage to be involved you never know what’s going to happen,” Spencer said.
As a modern magician in a world filled with mundane and easily explained events, not to mention a generation of kids growing up on video games and television, Spencer has found that technology has changed the relevance and role of magic in today’s society. But he remains undaunted in his pursuit of entertaining the crowd with visual feats that defy logic or explanation.
“I think it’s the responsibility of every artist to make sure that their art remains relevant,” Spencer said.
And as for those kids that want to grow up and become magicians themselves, Spencer has a little advice of his own.
“I think anybody can do anything they want to do. If it comes to magic, if there interested in it, go for it. It doesn’t work for everybody, but if it doesn’t become a job it’s a great hobby.”
High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.