Historic estate to host star-studded virtual fundraiser for magicians affected by COVID-19 – Daily News

The magic performances almost entirely disappeared overnight when COVID-19 rocked the United States.

Now, a historic estate with magical ties will help pull the scene out of the proverbial sleight of hand, with the help of celebrity friends.

The historic Brookledge Estate will host a star-studded virtual fundraiser on Saturday, May 8, titled Brookledge Cares to benefit magicians and other performers affected by the pandemic. The Larsen family bought the estate in 1942 and it quickly became an informal meeting place for magicians – a precursor to the Magic Castle the family founded in the 1960s.

Brookledge began hosting the “Brookledge Follies” in 2009, an invitation-only monthly variety and magic show. The exclusive events have attracted dozens of celebrities such as Sophia Vergara, Moby, Ryan Gosling and many more. The estate has not splurged since the start of the pandemic, however.

While the event will feature lesser-known local artists, many celebrities contributed to the fully pre-recorded event. Television personalities such as Neil Patrick Harris, Dick Van Dyke and his wife Arlene, Jason Alexander and Paul Reubens will take part in the event alongside better known magicians such as Penn & Teller and David Copperfield. Entrance fee is a suggested donation of $10 to the Dai Vernon Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help educate young magicians and serve as a helping hand to practitioners of magic in dire need.

Organizer Erika Larsen at the Brookledge Estate in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 6, 2021. The historic Brookledge Estate will host a star-studded virtual magic fundraiser featuring artists like Neil Patrick Harris, Penn & Teller and the legendary Dick Van Dyke . (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Erika Larsen, the organizer of Brookledge Cares and resident of the estate, said it wasn’t too difficult to complete the lineup with all her star power.

“Everyone on the bill was completely ready from the get-go,” Larsen said. “They’re all people who love variety arts and vaudeville, so they were totally up for anything.”

Larsen also said the performers on the show are excited to return to the stage, and while she doesn’t have specific dates yet, she has plans for live events when it’s safe to do so.

Michael Rayner is a juggler who pre-recorded a number for Brookledge Cares. He performed there on a semi-regular basis before the pandemic put a hiatus in live entertainment – ​​and Rayner lost 120 of his shows.

“You build a business where you make money and that’s great, and it all goes away,” Rayner said. “It’s incredibly devastating.”

Rayner said he used his social media skills to make ends meet. While he mainly used it as a way to work out at first, Rayner slowly gained popularity on different social media sites, including over 225,000 followers on TikTok. He received donations from fans and even some patrons who frequented Brookledge and watched him perform.

Yet despite Rayner’s new following, he was still looking forward to getting back to live shows.

“I just did my first live show last weekend at a park,” Rayner said. “I could have done a 30 minute show because they said we only needed a 30 minute show, but you can go longer. And I think I did 45 minutes because that I was so excited.

Rayner also said he hopes people across the country will pay to see the variety show because the money raised by Brookledge Cares could really help other artists who haven’t been able to adapt. their number to social media like he did.

Larsen also said she hoped a large audience would watch the performance – and that she also wanted the audience to feel like they were part of something.

“Just that sense of community,” Larsen said. “I hope they feel at home because they like the same things.”

To make a donation and reserve your place for the event, log on to http://www.daivernonfoundation.org/Brookledge/

Brian L. Hartfield