What is a magician really? Is he an illusionist? A storyteller? A dream-weaver? A showman? A creator?
Is he meant to astonish you? Amuse you? Entertain you? Scare you a little? Touch your soul a little?
A lot of magicians are giving away the “how” these days - but in Ben Whiting’s solo show, American Gypsy, he’s more intent on giving you the “why” – not just through his own magic, but through the stories and illusions of his own mentor, Jim Cellini . . . and of the man at whose feet his mentor studied – Tony Slydini.
In American Gypsy Ben Whiting becomes three generations of creatively different – but magically kindred – men who come together to invoke the gods of slight-of-hand, trickery and mischief in order to find the common thread that runs through their disappearing silk handkerchiefs.
Whiting himself is a charming, rakish, entertaining man for whom patter in between magic tricks comes quite easily. His charismatic, easygoing manner immediately draws you in, and the slight of hand ain’t bad either. The show really gets cooking, however, when Whiting takes the audience back with him to the time he met the man who taught him what magic was really all about – Cellini - a simple Busker whose less than flashy exterior hid the enormous talent that roiled just below the surface. The two men met and spoke for hours not in a mahogany lined room filled with books, but in a pancake house. It was the first of many meetings.
When Whiting excitedly admits during this conversation that he is taking a trick bigger, larger, grander than he’s ever seen anyone do before, he is shocked when Cellini tells him that the best magic is the simplest. ”It’s the job of the magician to make the difficult look easy, and the easy look beautiful”.
As Whiting channels The Old Busker the show takes on a different tone, and it now becomes Cellini’s story; we journey with the man back to when he met HIS mentor, Tony Slydini . . . when he became Slydini’s apprentice. Though the use of a very funny (but also very, very good) card trick show Cellini shows how he became apprentice to this suave, elegant magician of the day who’s hope was to train him to perform for kings.
American Gypsy exposes the truth about magic – that it’s not the deception but the connection that makes magic so . . . well . . . magical. Magic may be all about the art of misdirection, but American Gypsy is directed right at the audience.
The real magic of American Gypsy is not how easily Ben Whiting can maneuver ropes, balls, handkerchiefs, cups, rings, paper and cards all while switching through three generations of illusionists but rather how easily he can make your heart disappear – and then reveal it in the palm of his hand.
VENUE #3: The Kraine Theater
Click on the link below to purchase tickets