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A&E: Locals conjure up monthly magic

June 9, 2008

When IndyFringe, the eclectic latesummer theater fest, launched, I hoped it would have ripple effects on the yearround arts scene here, perhaps inspiring fledgling theater companies to try lowcost Fringe productions and then move out from under the festival umbrella to stage full shows on their own.

What I didn't expect was that, thanks in part to the Fest, we'd now have magic on stage throughout the year.

Taylor Martin-an IndyFringe staple whose on-stage characters include Colonial magician Rodney the Younger and female prestidigitator Andrea Merlyn-now presides over a monthly parade of conjurers, sleight-of-hand artists, and rabbit-pullers on stage at Theatre on the Square.

It's called Indy Magic Monthly (It was called Indy Monthly Magic, but the powers that be at a certain city magazine weren't happy with that) and it happens the first Tuesday of nearly every month.

The atmosphere for June's event was casual-less like attending a main stage show and more like hanging out in your living room with a group of eclectic aunts, uncles and cousins. Inside jokes were tossed to fellow magicians in the audience, snapshots taken, volunteers called up by name, prizes given away-all very welcoming ... and family-friendly.

On a set left over from the TOTS production of "Proof," Martin introduced four acts that would take turns in the spotlight-free spotlight.

Miles Santoro, an 18-year-old with a great name, showed the need for more stage time to establish a smoother delivery and clearer persona. Nonetheless, he provided some fun with a lemon that mysteriously housed an audience member's dollar bill. And he pulled off a closing bit in which a pin and a pack of cards were thrown at him-with a selected card winding up stuck to his tie.

He was followed by Allan Head, formerly of the Magic Shop at Union Station (anyone remember the Magic Shop at Union Station?) and now the magician of choice at Indiana Beach. Head's act, steeped in audience participation and schtick, earned the most laughs of the evening.

After intermission, Maria Schwieter did some tentative but surprisingly effective rope and card tricks. Her husband, Mike Powers, author of the magician's guide Power Plays, followed with the slickest slight-of-hand in the bunch. Among his better tricks was a "Sideways"- inspired wine glass trick and an elegant coin-and-card maneuver, both of which benefited from musical rather than verbal accompaniment.
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