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Illusionists conjure rock-style magic on stage

By: Don Chaddock Telegraph Managing Editor
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The days of a tuxedo-sporting magician waving a wand over a top hat are over, if Spencers Theatre of Illusion is any indication. Husband - and - wife team Kevin and Cindy Spencer are looking forward to performing at the state-of-the-art Three Stages performing arts center on Sunday in Folsom. According to Kevin, it’s because of the technology. “We get excited about venues like Three Stages,” he said. “When you see a venue like that with the technical abilities that Three Stages has, it really allows you to put on the (best) show. … About 90 percent of the time we get to see the show we really want to do and the other 10 percent of the time, we are limited by the technology at the venue.” He said it’s a treat to be able to be part of the first season of Three Stages and to be able to play such a nice venue in the U.S. “We have the privilege of playing on some of the most amazing stages on the world,” he said. “I’m excited about Folsom. … I just saw the photos from the new theater. It looks very cool (and) looking at the technical specifications, it’s going to make for a great show.” The Spencers spend most of their time touring. This weekend they have a shows in Carmel, Folsom and Chico. After that, they hit Oregon. “We’re on the road about 10 months of the year,” he said. “We do between four and seven shows per week, 40 to 45 weeks per year. You know, for a guy who has always wanted to do this, it’s pretty neat to wake up in a new town and perform on a new stage every day.” He said he has no plans to settle down. “People ask me if I would I ever want to settle in a Vegas or a Branson,” he said. “I can’t think of anything more boring than to be on the same stage everyday.” Spencer said the show is family friendly, but is geared more toward the 18 to 35-year-old set. “So many times when people think of a magic show, they think, ‘let’s bring kids to the show.’ But ours is really developed for an adult audience,” he said. “This is really a show that every age group can enjoy. It is family friendly.” He said the show combines elements of Broadway with the “high energy of a rock concert.” Spencer said his production is trying to cast magic shows in a new light. “When you think of a magician, a lot of really negative stereotypes are still there. Magic is really the only art form that is reluctantly being dragged into the 21st century,” he said. “We’ve not only tried to shove it, but with our show we’ve tried to launch it into the 21st century. This isn’t the kind of show where you come in, sit down, and watch a magician do tricks. (With us, audiences) experience the show and participate in the show.” The show offers a nod to traditional magic. “Another illusion we are performing this season is ‘Walking Through a Wall,’” he said. “Harry Houdini first performed it in 1914 on Broadway in New York. He performed it only a few times and then never did it again. Since 1914, it hasn’t been attempted on any stage, but you’ll see a modern … version at (Three Stages).” Cindy Spencer said there is another tribute to Houdini in the show. “We will end the show by recreating one of (Houdini’s) underwater escapes,” she said. “It will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.” As for how they ended up at Three Stages in Folsom, Kevin Spencer said it’s been a process. “We started talking to the executive director there about a year-and-a-half ago,” he said. “They reached out to us and said they wanted us to be a part of the first season. This was back when the arts center was in the planning stages.” Cindy said the show should be a real thrill ride. “We try to take our audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions,” she said. “The show is very audience interactive.” To learn more, visit spencersmagic.com and threestages.net. * * * KNOW AND GO Spencers Theatre of Illusion When: 4 p.m., Sunday, April 3 Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Tickets: $21-$39 Information: (916) 608-6888, threestages.net, spencersmagic.com