Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Illusionist fulfills people's wish to 'suspend disbelief'
The famed performer is coming to Cleveland this weekend.
By JOHN BENSON
There's little doubt that David Copperfield is one of the greatest illusionists and stage magicians of our generation.
Performing professionally at the age of 12, and the youngest person ever to be admitted to the Society of American Magicians, Copperfield was teaching a course in magic at New York University at age 16. Eventually, he was starring in a series of television specials on CBS that truly catapulted him into being an international star. His résumé includes flying across the Grand Canyon, walking through the Great Wall of China, making the Statue of Liberty disappear and more.
Today, Copperfield remains a touring force, averaging more than 550 shows annually to sold-out crowds. He returns to Cleveland on Friday and Saturday to perform at the Palace Theatre. Via e-mail, The Vindicator caught up with a vacationing Copperfield writing from his own island in the Bahamas to discuss the allure of magic in the new millennium.
Q. With the success of recent feature films "The Prestige" and "The Illusionist," do you feel magic as a source of entertainment is on an upswing?
A. The art of magic is the oldest of all the performing arts, practiced in an unbroken succession from ancient times, before even the Egyptian civilization. I enjoyed both of those films as they give widespread exposure to the art of magic. I think the one interesting theme consistent between both films is the passion that each magician has for his art.
Q. What is it about magicians/illusionists that continues to draw people's attention?
A. Well first, if you call yourself an illusionist, you get paid 20 percent more! LOL. Aside from that, I think audiences love having the opportunity to suspend their disbelief and allow a sense of childlike wonder to creep into their soul.
Q. Last year you were robbed at gunpoint in Florida. It was reported that you used sleight of hand to keep valuables that the robbers believed they had in their possession. How did that experience change you?
A. The police are the real heroes. My doing magic under pressure is what I do best, but the West Palm Beach Police Department was amazing. They were able to track down the criminals within minutes of me turning in the license plate number. It gave me all the respect in the world for what law enforcement is capable of doing under pressure.
Q. Looking ahead to your upcoming Cleveland show, any new illusions we should look forward to seeing?
A. One of the most exciting illusions in my current show is when I vanish 13 randomly selected people from the audience. Every night there is something different that takes place. Since [in] every city there are new faces and new challenges, it's always the hope on my part to not only vanish them all, but bring them back safely for their loved ones.
Q. Any memories of Northeast Ohio over the years?
A. They are always great shows in Cleveland, and I think I have performed in just about every one of your grand theaters Palace, State and Ohio. As a stage artist, it is always a special experience when you get to do a show in such impressive and historic surroundings. Cleveland should be very proud of the renovation and preservation efforts over the years.
Q. Finally, what should people look forward to in your current live show and how is it different than the last time you were in town two years ago?
A. The show is constantly evolving. New tricks are added, old ones are dropped, but as I mentioned, it's the randomly selected participants from the audience that make it fresh each and every show and also provides some of the best comic relief of the day.