‘King of Magic’ Copperfield brings interactive show to PAC

Ryan Chartrand

If “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige” haven’t revived your childhood love for magic, seeing the “King of Magic” David Copperfield live at the Performing Arts Center tonight might do the trick.

He calls it an “Intimate Evening of Grand Illusion” and it’s one of the most interactive shows Copperfield, a renowned magician and illusionist, has ever performed in the past 20 years.

It’s a show geared toward making the audience’s dreams come true and a new set of illusions that continue Copperfield’s ability to blur the line between magic and reality.

In one part of the show, partly inspired by an unfulfilled wish of Copperfield’s grandfather, the audience learns how to predict lottery numbers that will appear that night.

Copperfield’s father, who was loved by Copperfield’s fans and traveled with David over the past 20 years before his death in 2006, is mentioned in the illusion.

“I miss him dearly.but each night when his photo appears on stage in the lottery illusion, I feel he is with me in a very special way and his energy, love and kindness lives on,” Copperfield said in an e-mail interview with the Mustang Daily.

In an illusion called “Reunion,” Copperfield sends an audience member on their dream trip in a matter of moments. At one point, Copperfield and the audience member are suspended above the heads of the audience; moments later the person magically appears in his/her dream location.

“What affects people is realizing personal dreams; dreams almost everyone shares that they thought were impossible,” Copperfield said.

Copperfield makes the show even more intimate with an illusion called “Thirteen,” in which 13 audience members chosen at random vanish into thin air. While friends and family watch on, the thirteen people start to reappear in unlikely places.

Also in the show, Copperfield walks through steel (as opposed to walking through the Great Wall of China), squeezes his 6-foot-1 body into a bite-sized box, reunites an audience member with a lost loved one and even takes a trip into a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Copperfield isn’t all about making people disappear or walking through walls. He still performs the more subtle, yet dangerous, sleight-of-hand illusions, including one with a lethal black African scorpion in his latest show.

No illusion can be quite as dangerous as what Copperfield, while being an average American citizen, performed last year in Palm Beach when a teenager held Copperfield at gunpoint and demanded his wallet. Even with a gun pointed at his head, Copperfield used his sleight-of-hand to make the robber believe he had given it to him.

“My reaction was spontaneous and almost without thought, but by the very nature of who I am and what I do each night, my instincts just seemed to guide my actions,” Copperfield said.

The teenager fled the scene and was arrested, without Copperfield’s wallet, shortly thereafter.

Copperfield’s latest show is a culmination of his 20-year career. Every night of his tour he is able to walk through walls, make people disappear in new ways, and ultimately tries to achieve his goal of bringing back his audience’s childhood and forgotten dreams.

“I think there is the child in all of us that likes at certain times to suspend disbelief and be carried away by the magic of the moment,” Copperfield said.

Following this tour, Copperfield is looking to reveal to the world the “Fountain of Youth,” which he claims to have found on his personal island in the Bahamas.

“We are still in the research and protection phase right now to put all our ducks in a row, but eventually it will all be revealed,” he said.

“An Intimate Evening of Grand Illusion,” which is sold out, will show twice tonight at the PAC; once at 5:30 p.m. and again at 8:30 p.m.


Below are some of the questions from the Mustang Daily Q&A conducted through e-mail with David Copperfield.

Why do you think people, especially the older crowd and even college audiences like Cal Poly, keep coming out to magic shows? We know magic isn’t real and no more than illusion, but we can’t get enough of it. Why is this?

DC: I think there is the child in all of us that likes at certain times to suspend disbelief and be carried away by the magic of the moment. And what better way than through the Art of Magic, the oldest of all the performing arts – practiced in an unbroken succession back through ancient times.

MD: What was David Copperfield like in college?

DC: “David Copperfield” the magician was teaching the Art of Magic in College as a guest instructor, not as a student when he was still a teen! I got my “degree” on stage.

MD: When you’re not off creating mesmerizing illusions, what do you do in your spare time these days? Are you addicted to any T.V. shows?

This past year I just bought a resort Island in the Bahamas. It’s absolutely magical. So, on the few days I have off between my hectic schedule, you can find me tending to the many needs of the amazing resort.

MD: What do you think about up-and-coming illusionists such as David Blaine and Criss Angel? Does it bother you that Angel reveals some of his tricks on his show?

DC: It is the unspoken ethic of all magicians to not reveal the secrets. After all we are all in the same ‘brotherhood’, and why one brother would want to hurt another brother in entertainment is beyond me. I find revealing the secrets of magic quite reprehensible – the masked magician that FOX gave so much screen time to was the worst offender.

MD: Last year in Palm Beach, you convinced some teenagers that your pockets were emptied when they tried to rob you. What was going through your mind at the time? Did you immediately think of using sleight-of-hand, even with a gun pointed at your head? Has it become that second nature for you?

DC: First and foremost in my mind was the safety of the people with me. My reaction was spontaneous and almost without thought, but by the very nature of who I am and what I do each night, my instincts just seemed to guide my actions, and of course that ended up with me pulling some sleight of hand on the perpetrators. It was the keen eye of my assistant however, who caught the license plate number that gave the Palm Beach Police the ability to capture them the same night. And I must say, those men and women in uniform deserve a standing ovation.

MD: Also last year, your father, an amazing man who touched the lives of so many people on your tours, passed away. What is it like touring without him, or does it feel like he’s still there at every show?

DC: One of the illusions that I do each night mentions my father, Hy Kotkin. He and my mother were at thousands of my performances over the past twenty years and of course I miss him dearly. But each night when his photo appears on stage in the Lottery illusion, I feel he is with me in a very special way and his energy, love and kindness lives on.

MD: I remember watching you on Oprah when I was 10 years old and hearing you say that you see yourself “flying with a cane” in your seventies. Is that still the plan?

DC: You bet! I have found the Fountain of Youth; check out more at www.mushacay.com. This isn’t a part of my act in the show. We are still in the research and protection phase right now to put all our ducks in a row and eventually it will all be revealed

MD: Thank you for your time, Mr. Copperfield.

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