As real as it gets

Published 5:45 am Monday, May 14, 2012

Illusionist and entertainer Reza will perform his unique, large-scale show at the Paramount Theatre this Thursday. — Photo provided

Longtime entertainer and illusionist Reza admits that magic may have peaked and lost its appeal years ago, but that’s OK — he’s not a magician. After all, there is no such thing as magic.

The Brookings, S.D., native who travels the country, has had television specials in dozens of countries and performed in Austin in 2010, will return to the Paramount Theatre at 7 p.m. this Thursday.

But what makes him different from the performers of the past decades?

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“The more creative approach came from the fact that there was no road already paved,” Reza said about his performances. “It’s a million miles from what people would typically expect in a magic show.”

Reza takes the elements of big-time performers, small-time magicians, rolls them into an hour-and-a-half performance and adds the flare of modern music, smoke and flashing lights. He travels with a crew of performers and more than 15,000 pounds of production equipment.

“I watched the television specials,” Reza remembered about being a kid, “and it really motivated me to want to take it to the professional level.”

Reza, which is both his professional and casual name, started with sleight of hand and ideas from library books like any other 6-year-old. But unlike most kids, he stuck to his hobby and started performing opening acts in Branson, Mo., by age of 14.

“I started off doing a lot of the cliche illusions,” as Reza calls them, “… floating the girl and cutting her in half.”

He soon landed his own show and was performing three times a day, six times a week. Now the soon-to-be 26-year-old is on the road throughout the year. He and his crew meet in Brookings to practice and invent new tricks, which can take anywhere from six months to five years.

“If it was too easy, you kind of get lazy,” he said about practicing and performing.

He added, “It’s hard to take something creative like magic and force the process. It kind of just happens when it happens.”

News releases, reviews and Reza’s website insist that Reza is not your ordinary, rabbit-out of-a-hat magician. Not that he couldn’t, but Reza has never even done that trick. Still, he makes everything from cards to women disappear. They re-appear, of course.

Reza uses the music, lighting and his own charisma to connect with the audience.

“All those elements come together,” he said. “It makes it so you don’t just sit back and watch magic. It makes it seem like you actually experience magic.”

Reza admits that magic sort of disappeared from the entertainment world for years, so he wanted to be different, new.

“I think the bar was raised so high, and that was it,” Reza said. “So now it’s time for audiences to see something brand-new.”

For Reza’s sake, it’s good that things panned out.

“I never really had any idea in mind as a fallback,” Reza said about other career aspirations. If his career hadn’t worked out, he could only literally pull a rabbit out of a hat. And Reza loves his career.

“It’s a very unique hobby — let alone a profession,” he said.

Reza said the heavy repetition of shows in Branson honed his skills, and he’s been fortunate to never flop like an opening comedian or drugged-out musician.

“I can’t think of any (illusions) that have ever gone horribly wrong,” he said, and added that some tricks add the perception that dangerous things certainly can go wrong.

When Reza performs on Thursday, the audience can expect him appearing in the blink of an eye, beautiful women seemingly being impaled with spikes, close-up sleight of hand and even audience members involved in some tricks.

“We never involve people who don’t want to be involved,” he said. “But for those who do want to be involved, there are over a dozen opportunities throughout the show.”

Reza will also show one of his favorite tricks, in which he plays a year-old tape of himself correctly making predictions of audience members — he hopes.

Tickets to the show are $15 in advance or $18 at the door, $10 in advance for students or $13 at the door.

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