Magic comes to the Museum

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

Come see an exhibit so incredible you won’t believe it’s real and magic so incredible you won’t believe it’s not,” says veteran magician Michael Baker about the Science of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and “Magic at the Museum” — a stage magic show that he and two fellow PMA members will bring to Peoria Riverfront Museum from noon to 1 p.m. July 19.

The show, presented by the Peoria Magicians Assembly, focuses on the art of performing magic up close. It will be held in the Museum’s Giant Screen Theater where the audience can easily see all angles of the magicians’ performances. In addition, a camera will be focused on the performers so that viewers may also see any sleight of hand enlarged on the high-definition, five-story screen.

Baker will be joined by fellow magicians, Rodney Nordstrom, PMA president, and Kyle “Gambit” Bassett. They will each be demonstrating their own distinct techniques.

Performing a show in the Giant Screen Theater is a real challenge for magicians, says Baker, who has been a magician for more than 50 years (20 of those performing close-up magic). There is no backstage area; there are no curtains. With the camera, there will be no hidden views either.

It’s the type of situation where a magician’s performance art is critical to creating the illusion.

“We really have to know what we’re doing and how to perform it so that it’s not only palatable to the audience, but also so that the results are professional and believable,” says Baker, a Galesburg, Ill. native. “We have to adapt our art to any environment.”

As with any artist, a magician must learn how to connect with an audience, developing a unique technique, over years, that lures and entrances viewers, keeping them intimately involved with and enjoying the magic show.

Baker’s approach is direct and traditional, performing a variety of sleight-of-hand tricks. Nordstrom performs mental magic – ‘reading’ the minds of audience members. Bassett is a theatrical performer with an eclectic performance that’s full of surprises.

Magic at the Museum is open to the public. Families and viewers of all ages are welcome. Admission is $5 per person; children 5 and under get in free.