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More than a magic show

March 1, 2012
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - The thought of a magic show conjures up certain images, certainly, from the children's magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, to the glitz and glamor of a Las Vegas production.

When Spencers Theatre of Illusion comes to Fairmont Opera House at 7:30 p.m. March 10, Kevin and Cindy Spencer promise to put on more than just a magic show.

"We call the show Theatre of Illusion because it is a combination of our love for theatre and our passion for the art of magic," Kevin said. "We believe that magic deserves the same respect as other art forms, and when presented in the right way, magic should move an audience intellectually and emotionally in the same way that good dance, music or theatre does."

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Kevin Spencer

For more than 25 years, Kevin has been honing his craft, with Cindy joining him at his side when the two married. Together with a team of consultants, creators and designers, they've developed what Kevin describes as a contemporary, sophisticated show, created with adults in mind, but "extremely family-friendly."

With his background training as a concert pianist, Kevin prides himself on understanding the emotion music can create: "It's one of those elements of Broadway we bring into our show," he said.

Lights, sound, scenery, special effects and dialogue are all designed to add to the experience.

After a recent performance, the Spencers were contacted by Chris Martin, a VH1 producer, who was watching the show with his son: "That was the best father-son evening I've had in a long time," Martin told them, praising the production for its contemporary, original approach to magic as an art form.

"It was a great compliment," Kevin said, talking to the Sentinel on the phone from his home in Virginia.

With the availability of information via the Internet, today's magicians face a greater challenge than their predecessors in keeping the secrets of their illusions secret. Particularly with viral videos, if one fan figures out a trick, word can quickly spread.

"Audiences are a lot more savvy than they used to be," Kevin said. "... A lot of magicians are angry with technology, but I kind of like that it's forced magic to bring itself to the 21st century."

While "modern" is sometimes used to describe shows where magicians wear jeans and a cool shirt from the Buckle and play loud rock music, that's often where the modernity ends, Kevin said.

One illusion the Spencers feature this season is an updo of one of Kevin's old favorites: Harry Houdini's "Walking Through a Wall." Houdini only performed it a few times in 1914, and according to Kevin, it hasn't been attempted on stage since. With his team of consultants, Kevin sat down and figured out a "very contemporary, modern way to recreate that illusion on stage."

"When people walk into the Opera House, they'll see a stack of concrete cinder blocks, and they'll have the opportunity to examine each and every block," he said.

When the blocks are stacked up to create a wall, a gentleman from the audience will hold the wall while Kevin walks through it.

"It's not just a great piece of magic, it's a great piece of theater," he said.

Tickets are available for Theatre of Illusion online at, or by calling (507) 238-4900. General admission seats are $20 for adults and $10 for students.

For more information on the Spencers, visit



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