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Top illusionists bringing magic to Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — Ever the showman, Taylor Martin is working on a bigger, better setup for the fourth annual Indianapolis Magic Festival.

“We got two theaters, and a television setup with overhead projection system for close-up magic,” Martin said Wednesday. “It will be like the Magic Castle.”

Quite a feat, comparing Indy venues to the legendary Hollywood theater where magic’s best perform. But that’s the caliber of talent he has brought to Indy for the festival, presented by IndyFringe today through Sunday.

Close-up magic, like card tricks, that can be performed within inches of audience members, will be featured in the IndyFringe Theater, 719 E. St. Clair (just east of the St. Clair/Mass Ave./College intersection), with each show lasting about 30 minutes, Martin said.

Longer stage acts (45 to 55 minutes) will be at the Cook Theater in the Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 N. Central.

“Magic has never been presented in Indianapolis like this before,” Martin said. “We have just an amazing array of people.”

They include Crescent Circus from New Orleans, a duo blending magic and circus stunts; Trent James of Chicago, one of America’s most promising young magicians; “Broadway Magic” with Jamahl Keys, an Indiana performer who has opened for Ben Vereen; the Action Brothers of Louisville, who weave mime, ventriloquism and comedy magic into their act; “Impossible Matters” with Indy’s own Caleb Wiles; “The Magic of Life” with teen magician Cody Comet; “After Dark Mystery Show” with John Shore, who has a magic dinner theater in Lexington, Ky.; up-close master Ryan Siebert, The Mystic; Kayla Drescher of Massachusetts, winner of David Copperfield’s “Search for the Next Great Magician;” and “Blinded by the Wyrd” by Obtuse Oldaker.

Part of Oldaker’s act may appeal those from Greenfield, as he  “does a ball-and-cup trick while reciting James Whitcomb Riley’s ‘Little Orphant Annie,’” Martin said.

One truly special performer is Johnny Thompson, “The Great Tomsoni.” With a career that has spanned over 45 years, including multiple appearances on the Merv Griffin Show, Tomsoni is revered by fellow magicians, many of whom he has taught or advised.

“Penn Jillete said, ‘There hasn’t been a decent magic show in Las Vegas that hasn’t been helped by Johnny Thompson,’” said Martin, adding that “The Great Tomsoni has been a friend of mine for years.”

Though he has retired his famous dove act, Martin said Tomsoni still has plenty of tricks to perform, including the Malini Egg Bag and the Ball and Net.

Martin encourages magic fans of all ages to check out the festival.

“It’s a show that families can go to,” he said, noting that the length of individual performances can be an asset. “If it’s a kid’s first theater experience, they won’t be squirming through a two-hour show.”

For more information, including tickets and the full schedule of performances, go to indyfringe.org or co-sponsor visitindy.com.

Martin – a working magician himself – is also the producer of Indy Magic Monthly, bringing local and touring illusionists to Theatre on the Square, 627 Massachusetts Ave., the first Tuesday of every month.

“Johnny (Thompson) said to me, ‘The problem with magic today is no place to perform,’ and I give them a place to perform,” Martin said.

For information on upcoming shows, see IndyMagicMonthly.com.

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