Here’s David Copperfield’s dilemma: He is TV’s most famous magician, yet TV is not the best place for magic.
The best place for magic is the stage. On stage, there are no camera tricks, no editing, no barriers between magician and audience. Which is why Copperfield has always done up to 500 live shows a year, in addition to his TV specials.
And that’s also why Copperfield returned this winter to the street where he first fell in love with show business - Broadway - to create his own Broadway stage show.
And what a stage show. His “Dreams and Nightmares” was a huge record-breaker on Broadway, outgrossing even the biggest Broadway musicals (thanks to a grueling schedule of 16 performances a week) and getting rave reviews from New York’s tough theater critics. Clive Barnes of the New York Post called it “unquestionably the most classy and sophisticated magic seen in years and years and years.”
We can see what all the fuss was about as Copperfield brings “Dreams and Nightmares” to the Spokane Opera House for one show tonight and two Friday.
Viewers of Copperfield’s TV shows already know that he isn’t just a guy in a tuxedo pulling a rabbit out of a hat. He’s a showman as well as magician, and he has always used music and choreography to create a mood. But with this show, he worked with film director Francis Ford Coppola to create a magic show that unfolds like a play or (speaking of grand illusions) a movie. Coppola is credited as the creative director.
The theme is “a journey through the history and wonder of the art of magic.”
The show will include some of the big, showy illusions he has become famous for. He will be cut in half by a laser, food-processed by a giant industrial fan, and threatened in unspeakable ways by the “Death Saw.”
But he will also do what is billed as “intimate, close-up magic” and sleight-of-hand tricks. Those in the back of the house can see them on the big screen.
Copperfield ordinarily spends a lot of time playing Las Vegas. But he is on record as saying that he never wants one of his shows to be characterized as a “Vegas act.”
Ever since he was a kid, though, he dreamed about having a Broadway act. He told Interview magazine last year that while growing up in New Jersey, he used to rush into New York every afternoon and sneak into Broadway shows.
“I would second-act them - that’s what they call it when you sneak into shows during intermission,” he said. “I saw all of Bob Fosse’s and Stephen Sondheim’s and Jerome Robbins’ work, but only the second halves.”
It was there that he resolved to do something with the same kind of impact, but with magic.
“I wanted to make magic move the audience in the same way that I was being moved on Broadway,” Copperfield told Interview magazine.
With “Dreams and Nightmares,” his dream came true.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 color photos
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ON STAGE David Copperfield will present “Dreams and Nightmares” at the Spokane Opera House tonight at 8 and Friday at 5 and 8 p.m. Reserved seats are $34.50 and $39.50, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.
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