Derek DelGaudio is, technically speaking, one of the best magicians in the world. But he’s spent the last few years putting on a mind-blowing stage show that’s equal parts conceptual art and social experiment. Here, with a little help from fan Stephen Colbert, director Frank Oz, and collaborator Glenn Kaino, he explains how the best parts of his work have nothing to do with actual magic.
Derek DelGaudio wanted to meet in New York City’s Washington Square Park, which should have ranked pretty low on any list of anxiety-inducing activities. And yet, when I got there, my heart started pounding. DelGaudio, a magician, had suggested the location, and it didn’t seem an unreasonable request. But as I entered the park ahead of our meeting, I started scrutinizing my fellow park-dwellers in a state of adrenalized attention. One woman seemed to point her phone at me. (She was FaceTiming someone). My own phone buzzed with a notification, and I nearly jumped out of my shoes. I’m generally an easygoing guy, but what I’d seen DelGaudio do a month prior in his one-man show, In & Of Itself, had put me in a distinctly paranoid mood. DelGaudio, widely considered one of the most talented magicians on the planet, had displayed such a casual facility for manipulation—for card tricks but also for knottier, weirder illusions that weren’t necessarily illusions at all—that I was convinced I was walking into some sort of trap. It had seemed so easy for him to tweak reality onstage, as if it were a product of the guy and not his stage show. I was expecting him to pull one over on me, and probably without my noticing it…. Read More..
What comes to mind when you read the word “magic”?
Wands? Doves? Tall black hats and puffy shirts? Maybe a douchey guy in Ed Hardy flexing his abs in a Vegas show? Even worse, maybe a little light misogyny – a woman being manipulated in a borderline-creepy way, being sawed in half, or vanishing altogether.
Whatever it is, either amazing or obnoxious, likely what you’re picturing isn’t something you’d describe as “art.” Unless, perhaps, you’ve seen the show currently breaking box office records at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse. This magic show is different. Because it might actually be magic. Read more.
In Las Vegas, it’s as easy to take in a big magic show as it is to lose big money at the casino.
The most popular acts include Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, and Criss Angel. Magic is even dominating the box office with “Now You See Me 2,” which opened to good box office returns this past weekend.
Now, magic takes center stage at the Geffen Playhouse. Derek DelGaudio’s “In & Of Itself” is dedicated to the most intimate aspects of illusion and sleight of hand.
Like a lot of performers doing so-called “close-up” magic, DelGaudio works in front of only about 100 people, and this intimacy actually makes his illusions more amazing. But “In & Of Itself” is as much a piece of theater as it is a magic show. The director is the filmmaker and muppeteer Frank Oz, best known for his work with Jim Henson. And the show is filled with stories about DelGaudio’s childhood, a legend of a man who cheated death playing Russian Roulette. Read more…
The first time Derek DelGaudio performed at the Geffen Playhouse — in the 2012 show “Nothing to Hide,” which he created with co-star Helder Guimarães and director Neil Patrick Harris — DelGaudio ended up staying longer than expected: The magic act, originally slotted for a one-month run, packed the house for 18 weeks.
Now DelGaudio is back at the Geffen with a new solo show, “In & Of Itself.” If its starry creative team, which includes Frank Oz as director and Mark Mothersbaugh as composer, isn’t sufficient enticement to fill seats, DelGaudio has a secret weapon: At every performance, he asks a member of the audience to return the next night.
On Wednesday night, when he made this surprising request, it wasn’t immediately clear that he was serious, and a long, awkward pause ensued. But a woman did volunteer. “I’ll call you Miss Tomorrow,” DelGaudio said. “Miss Tomorrow, meet Miss Yesterday,” he added, as the lights came up on the volunteer from the previous performance.
If people keep making good on their promises, then every show is guaranteed at least one audience member. It’s clever thinking, from a box-office perspective, but in this case it probably isn’t necessary: “In & Of Itself” is such an unexpected puzzle of a show, such an eclectic collection of stories, confessions, illusions and tricks — several truly dumbfounding — that audience members will want to come back anyway. And bring their friends. Read more..