Celebrities flock to see New York’s hottest magic show
After selling out its first run and attracting star-studded audiences, illusionist Derek DelGaudio’s one-man show, “In & of Itself,” has been extended through September 3 at the Daryl Roth Theater.
Its mix of confessional monologue and stunning magic, all from a surprisingly modest man in a maroon suit, attracted Josh Groban, Noah Syndergaard, Olivia Wide and Stephen Sondheim.
At a show in Los Angeles ahead of her current gig, the crowd included Barbra Streisand and Steve Martin — who was so tickled by “In & of Itself” that he took DelGaudio to dinner.
While the performer’s stage presence avoids the smarmy flash of typical magicians – “I look like I might be somebody’s nephew,” he deadpans – Martin’s invitation might have raised a cry of excitement. “Barbra Streisand told me she thought the show was amazing. I was, like, ‘Thank you, Barbra Streisand,'” DelGaudio said, sounding annoyed. He knows magic, showmanship and everything else.
‘Steve Martin is coming to me? It was fantastic. He knows about magic, performing and everything else.
Martin and others have been smitten by the series’ autobiographical stories – ranging from a story he was once told about a Russian roulette player to his confession to catching his mother kissing with his lover when he was a young boy – and an inexplicable sleight of hand. The fact that he distributes magic sparingly, with just six jewel tricks increasing his verbiage, makes every act of sorcery all the more impressive.
Audience members are stunned when the playing cards mysteriously rearrange and a golden brick disappears before surfacing (“damn almost instantly,” promises DelGaudio) at a Manhattan intersection randomly chosen by two audience members. Then the crowd becomes absolutely mesmerized as he inexplicably produces a letter from a loved one, written to someone in the theater. “Derek is a virtuoso – better than he should be,” says Penn Jillette. “And, yes, it does what it says it does.”
Gigi Boyd, a 70-year-old psychologist from Santa Fe, NM, attended a recent performance and received a missive there from her daughter-in-law. “I was blown away,” she says. “And I’m a skeptical person who isn’t easily blown away. It was amazing.”
Her husband shared the sentiment. “I’m a man of science,” he said as he left the theatre. “I don’t have an explanation of how it was done.”
The whole thing is even more incredible if you consider that barely six years ago, the talent of DelGaudio was used by a band of crooked players. They hired him to be a bankrupt croupier, using sleight of hand to fix high-stakes underground poker games in Beverly Hills, California.
DelGaudio’s participation as a dealer guaranteed that a compère, under the house’s employ, would make a lot of money. Duplicity earned him a share of each night’s loot. But it came at a cost: “Every moment was scary. You’re living a lie, doing something wrong, and you never know what the repercussions might be.
At the time, DelGaudio – about whom David Blaine writes: “He’s awesome!!! I love this guy ”- had practically given up on becoming a stage magician. On and off, for much of his 20s, he made a lot of money doing private performances, but something was wrong.
“If you really care about magic and you’re doing it at a kid’s bar mitzvah, where nobody gives like-t, well, it’s heartbreaking,” says DelGaudio, who has started mastering tricks complex maps as a 12-year-old child without the right to vote grew up. outside of Denver. He dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and devoted much of his life to craftsmanship. “There is more dignity in waiting tables than in doing something so painful.”
As for the appeal of the card-rigging gig, DelGaudio found himself seduced by “people who see commercial value in what you do”. All of a sudden, “your skills, which used to be too trivial to keep the kids engaged, are catching the attention of serious guys who can’t believe what they’re seeing – and believe me, they’ve seen a lot of it. Now you’re the golden goose and you’re treated very well. The first time I met these guys, they asked me to audition. I demonstrated some techniques, and their jaws are They gave me $300 for 15 minutes of work that I would have done for free.
DelGaudio could have gone on without a conversation he had with a friend steeped in the twisted gaming world. “He told me I had to quit,” says DelGaudio. “He said to me, ‘There’s only one way this will end – badly. “”
Emboldened, perhaps, by the experience, DelGaudio refocused on stage magic, this time without compromise or complacency, and turned his criminal experience into a television treatment that was picked up by HBO. Clearly, things are now moving in a direction that is anything but bad.
Recalling recent post-show encounters with David Cross, Jason Sudeikis and Mandy Patinkin, DelGaudio says, “It’s always been my dream to meet my heroes backstage after their performances. I would never have imagined that they would come to meet me, backstage, after my show.