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December 14, 2015

Concert in Magic

Although magicians are fond of saying that a magician is really an actor playing the part of a magician, I believe that magic – at least fine sleight-of-hand – has a greater kinship to music than it does to acting.

Sure, one is playing a character onstage even if that character is one’s self – or, in my case, a “likeable eccentric.” But for magic to really shine, that is, to resonate, I believe it should have a lyrical quality that manipulates emotion, just as a melody does for music. Timing, pacing, rhythm and dynamic range not only enhance the experience, but they also add layers of texture to the deception.

Tricks is a concert of magic in other ways.

As I have alluded to previously, the very pieces that I have elected to perform represent the magic equivalent of the “Great American Songbook.” But, instead of being works by Gershwin, Arlen and Cahn, I turned to magical “composers” such as Alexander Herrmann, Charles Bertram, Dai Vernon and Robert Harbin for my inspiration.

I’ve cherry picked the great compositions from hundreds of years of magic history, and arranged them – working on some of these “charts” for decades – for Tricks. So, if the work shines, it is because I’ve built upon work created by unheralded “composers.”

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Another way Tricks is like a concert is that it features a lot of music composed and performed (largely) by John Lang. I enjoy the creative process that we go through together to bring a piece of magic to life. I choreograph the magic, and from there, John composes “on demand” – adding yet another dimension or layer to the look and feel of the show. So, when I wanted a piece that sounded like a Nelson Riddle arrangement of a tune performed by Count Basie for Sinatra at the Sands circa 1963 – he delivered. John Lang is a real magician!

So come and see (and hear) for yourself this December.

– David Ben

Tricks is part of Soulpepper’s Family Festival and is onstage at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts from December 5 – January 3. Click Here to buy tickets.

David Ben, photo: Cylla von Tiedemann.