Magicians to gather in Granby

Date: 3/13/2015

GRANBY – Area magicians will gather to perform and confound at an annual event.

The Church in the Meadows will be hosting the Society of American Magicians Assembly #17 annual show at 165 West State St. on March 28. The performance is free although donations will be appreciated, the dean of the assembly Thomas Gentile explained to Reminder Publications.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. and the performance starts at 6 p.m. There will be free pizza and soft drinks at the intermission.

Gentile said the local assembly has more than 20 members who meet monthly to “exchange ideas and show what we’re doing.”

Magicians are often specialists and Gentile said the show would reflect those interests. There will be magicians walking through the audience performing slight of hand.

“They will be standing right there. It’s 22 inches from your face,” he said.

There will also be magicians performing tabletop tricks and some larger illusions.

Gentile himself is a “props” guy and said with a laugh he has a “head chopper” trick for sale.

“I can amaze you for a little bit,” he joked. Gentile added he also performs mind-reading or mentalism tricks.

Gentile has been a member of the organization for 28 years and will serve the master of ceremonies for the 90-minute show.  

The Society of American Magicians was founded in 1902, Gentile said and the local assembly was the seventeenth in the country. Its charter was signed by the then president of the national group legendary illusionist Harry Houdini in 1922.  

“Massachusetts and New England has had a very [large] concentration of magicians,” Gentile said. He noted the chapter is named after Dr. I.R. Calkins, a Springfield physician and Olympic medalist who served as the president of the national group. Gentile said the doctor had a stage built in his home for performances and the backdrop for the stage was recently discovered.

Perhaps the best-known magician from the area was Joe Karson, Gentile explained, who developed a trick that has become a standard for many magicians, “The Zombie.” The illusion features a silver ball that floats on the edge of an outstretched cloth. Karson received a patent for the trick in 1949.

Gentile said there has been a resurgence in interest in performing magic and the goal of the assembly is to introduce the hobby to younger people. The group meets on the first Friday of the month at 7 p.m. at Pinsonnault Moto X and Magic Shop, 69 East St. Ludlow.

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