The real magic in magician Bill Blagg’s stage show may be that audience members reconnect to their surroundings.
“Nowadays, families are extremely busy,” said Blagg, who will perform two shows on Dec. 28 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. “It’s rewarding to see Mom, Dad, Grandpa, the kids, or a husband and wife in the audience put their cell phones away and laugh and have a good time for a while. The magic makes that possible.
“It is not conventional magic that people sometimes think about,” said Blagg about his show.
“It is not a top hat with birds and card tricks. The show is magic and illusion in a high-energy, rock concert-like setting.”
Three of Blagg’s favorite illusions are a mix of classic magic, cutting-edge ideas and sentimentality.
“I do a twist on the Houdini metamorphosis trick where he is locked inside a box and instantly reappears elsewhere.” Blagg said. “But my box is made out of Plexiglas, so people can see me inside.”
Another illusion is based on a hoverboard, a fictional piece of equipment used for personal transportation in the 1989 film “Back to the Future Part II.” In the film, a hoverboard resembled a skateboard without wheels hovering above the ground. The result was achieved through special effects by the filmmakers.
“I have a blast with the hoverboard,” Blagg said. “I demonstrate it and take it for a spin around the stage. I’ve worked on perfecting that illusion for 13 years. A lot of time, research and development went into it. No one has ever done it.”
Blagg’s third favorite illusion is a dancing handkerchief.
“I won a national championship with it when I was 18 years old,” said the 33-year-old entertainer. “The hankie comes to life, flies around the stage and takes on its own persona.”
Blagg also incorporates humor into his show and includes audience participation.
“I take someone from the audience and make them disappear. But they don’t come back,” said Blagg with a chuckle. “Because of this illusion we have a lot of guys bringing their mothers-in-law to the show. Spouses often volunteer their husbands or wives.”
Blagg, who grew up in Zion and now lives in Wisconsin, began doing magic at 5 years of age and had his first paid performance when he was 12 years old.
“I was hired by the Zion Park District to do a 35-minute show for one of their day camps,” Blagg said. “I got $30 for the show and paid my oldest sister $5 to be my assistant.”
Since then, Blagg has progressed to a much higher level of illusions.
“I look to the classics for the magic first,” he said about creating a new presentation piece. “I look at what people used to do and then what they are NOT doing today. I make it modern, current and I make it amazing. I try to do things that not only amaze people, but make it entertaining for them also.”