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Arts & Culture

Three Orlando illusionists may hold the key to the future of magic

Live Active Cultures

Photo: PHOTO BY SETH KUBERSKY, License: N/A

PHOTO BY SETH KUBERSKY


A few days later, I found myself at the Venue in Ivanhoe Village for a free magic double-header featuring Kardenni and Nick Paul, whom you may recognize from Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk. Like Thomas’ show, this one was being recorded for possible promotional use, albeit in front of a far smaller crowd. The biggest difference is that this production was appropriately billed as “a non-pretentious magic show”; no flashy stunts or gyrating eye candy here, just carefully learned legerdemain.

Kardenni took the stage first, dressed in a Reservoir Dogs-style suit and skinny tie, and performed a tight 30 minutes of mesmerizing mentalism tricks. I was the first audience “volunteer” selected to participate and was surprised by the swift simplicity with which he guessed the color I was thinking of. More divinations involving candy bars, giant playing cards and scraps of newspaper swiftly followed, as Kardenni flew from one impressive effect to another with a minimum of fuss. His finale, in which he solved a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded, deservedly brought the audience to their feet.

He was followed by Nick Paul, who has performed from Tokyo to Off-Broadway and is “the greatest magician … in his family.” That self-effacing modesty is integral to his mute magic, which is presented silent-movie style, complete with explanatory intertitles on hand-lettered placards and an appealing Little Tramp-like persona. Paul’s effects – milking quarters from behind ears, producing a card from inside an orange – are practically ancient, but his winning wordless presentation (which included an accordion-accented soundtrack and Siri-style audio assistant) made them feel fresh again. Though his aesthetic may appear anachronistic, artists like Paul are bringing audiences back to the future of magic.

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