REVIEW: Bill Blagg combines a heartwarming story with magic tricks | Arts and Theater

Magician Bill Blagg made no tigers disappear at the Orpheum Theater on Friday night.

He also didn’t see a woman in half or pull a rabbit out of a hat.

However, he thoroughly enjoyed himself with the story of his attraction to magic and the work it took to become a headliner.

Accompanied by familiar music (including a tear-worthy “Forrest Gump” theme), the “Bill Blagg Live” show sounded like a magician’s TED talk, complete with illustrations.

Many – including a rope trick that he says took 25 years to perfect – were familiar, but were packed with a heartwarming story about a great-grandfather he never knew and the support which he brought to her by letter.

Based in Wisconsin, Blagg was an award-winning magician at 18. He borrowed $25,000 to put on a show and found himself working a 9 to 5 just to pay off the loan. Leaving passion behind him, he rediscovers magic during a vacation in Italy. Throughout his story: levitating tables, disappearing bottles, dancing handkerchiefs.

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While a video screen was too small for most viewers to appreciate, Blagg had other props (like a magic stand made by his father) that helped convey his message of support.

“BBL”, in fact, was very much like an autobiography. While a few more big tricks might have been nice, the ones he presented were impressive: he arrived in an empty glass box, levitated like he was in a hot air balloon, and disappeared from the stage, to appear in the public.

Blagg also joked around with people in the audience and did one of those “guess the numbers” things that came back at the end of the show.

Kind of like a puzzle – which included the names of nine cities – was a way to get the whole audience involved but, somewhere in the middle, I tapped.

More impressive were his dance moves (to “Uptown Funk,” no less) and a goofy “disappearing bandana” bit.

Blagg touched on the 14-month hiatus from live performances (he enjoyed the time with his newborn son) and thanked the people who make it possible for acts to happen at places like the Orpheum.

The crowd appreciated his storytelling ability (even when the sound went off) and got a handful of numbers that could be dandy options for the next Powerball.

A lovable performer, Blagg demystified the profession and showed how much hard work, dedication and, above all, passion it really takes to perfect.

Brian L. Hartfield