“Illusion: the art of tricking the brain, distorting the senses, challenging perception. You can’t trust what you see, even with your own eyes.”
So says actor/host Dean Cain at the beginning of every episode of “Masters of Illusion,” which airs on the CW.
In each episode, a variety of magicians take the stage and wow the audience with illusions both big and small.
The same thing happens on the “Masters of Illusion” tour, which brings a trio of talented magicians – Tom Burgoon, Michael Turco and Tommy Wind – to Northern Quest Resort and Casino on Thursday.
A young Turco began attending every magic and variety show he could while growing up in New Jersey and quickly became intrigued by magic.
He’d talk to magicians after shows and frequent magic shops, anything he could do learn about the art.
“The more I watched it, the more I was intrigued in the magic world,” he said. “That got me hooked and I knew magic was the avenue I wanted to go.”
He performed tricks in middle school talents shows and graduated to birthday parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs while in high school.
It was around this time that he also began his own business booking shows for fellow magicians.
“I made as much money as I could so I could then put it back into the art of magic and take my show out on the road,” he said. “It was a great avenue for me rather than getting a part-time job in a clothing store at the mall.”
Turco performed throughout college, then took his show on the road after graduation.
He eventually returned to New Jersey – Atlantic City, to be exact – and performed his own show there for five years.
He also appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2011 and headlined a show in Las Vegas.
It was during this time that Turco caught the attention of producers at “Masters of Illusion,” which premiered in 2000 and has been on the CW since 2014.
Turco has been a fan of “Masters of Illusion” since the late magician Harry Blackstone hosted and calls the chance to work on the show and tour a dream come true.
The folks at “Masters of Illusion” have been particularly supportive of Turco over the past few years, during which he was diagnosed with and began treatment for leukemia.
Turco said the diagnosis came out of nowhere and he had to spend a year in intense chemo treatment.
He’s currently got about a year left of maintenance treatment, but he’s feeling good.
“The cool part is I’m still getting to perform in the midst of my treatments, which is nice,” he said.
Though he is now known for his grand illusions, one of the first tricks that captivated a young Turco involved tearing, then restoring, a newspaper.
To pay tribute to that moment and the magician who helped him perfect the illusion, Turco often performs the trick in the beginning of his live shows.
“For myself when I tour with ‘Masters of Illusion,’ I do a lot of large-scale illusions so for me to do this smaller effect with the torn and restored newspaper, it’s fun for me and reminds me of when I first started,” he said.
Fans of Turco’s appearances on “Masters of Illusion” can expect to see an illusion or two that he’s performed on the show live at Northern Quest.
This repetition is intentional, as it dispels the belief that the illusions are a result of TV magic.
“That’s one of the first things we say to the audience,” Turco said. “ ‘You’ve seen it on television and tonight you’re going to experience it live and in person’… We bring what you see on television right to a live stage so you can see it up close and personal, right there in front of you.”
Of course, the show also features a variety of new tricks from each of the performers.
That variety is what Turco thinks makes “Masters of Illusion,” the TV show and the live show, so special.
Over the course of the show, audiences will see grand illusions, close-up magic, escape tricks and comedic magic, all of which contributes to the sense of childlike wonder magic can produce.
“You sit down and you watch this magic and it brings you back to something that might not be reality for a couple minutes or that hour and a half that you’re sitting there watching it,” Turco said. “You’re lost in the show.”
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