Terry Evanswood

Magic in the Mountains

Aug16 cover

I don’t remember a time I wasn’t fascinated with magic. Before I was performing it, I believed in it. The story really begins when my parents gave me a Marshall Brodien “TV Magic Set” for Christmas. It stood out above any other gift. Other presents sat unopened as I learned the simple tricks that would unknowingly begin a lifelong passion for performing. As I presented my tricks for family and friends, they were amazed. But something unexpected occurred. I was amazed by their reaction. The look in their eyes as I performed those tricks so many years ago is still the driving force behind my passion for performing the art of illusion.

Interest in Christmas toys will typically melt away like the winter snow, but not this time. It was March of the following year, and I was still staging magic shows for the neighborhood kids and taking it very seriously. Lucky for me, the Blackstone Magic Show came to town. Even more fortunate was the fact that my dad, being aware of my newfound hobby, bought two tickets. I counted down the days. I had never seen a real magic show before; that experience sealed my fate. We sat together and watched in amazement as a lady was sawed in half, flowers appeared from nowhere, and a light bulb floated in mid-air – and right off the stage and over an amazed audience. As that light bulb floated above my head, one appeared in my head. I knew in that instant I wanted to be a magician. I didn’t want to just watch anymore. I wanted to be the one onstage making other people feel the way I felt when I saw the Great Blackstone. I leaned over to my dad and whispered, “I want to grow up and be a magician.” He whispered back, “Son, you can’t do both.”

I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my mom about the wonders I had just seen. I told her about his tall top hat and his magic cape. I hung a Blackstone poster on my bedroom door for inspiration. I guess my enthusiasm caught on. My dad found an old top hat at our local flea market and my mom surprised me with a cape she made by hand, which to this day is a treasured possession. I was busy designing my own magic show poster when my dad came home from work with a box of business cards he had printed for me that simply said “Magic by Terry.” I was on my way. I still credit the encouragement, support, and love that I was given from the start at home as the most important ingredients in the success of my show.

My first official appearance as a magician was just a month after having seen the Great Blackstone. My annual Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet needed entertainment and I had a perfect suggestion. I assembled the most elaborate show I could. My dad built my first large scale stage illusion, a big, black, four-sided magic cabinet from which I would make my grand entrance.  I started performing for parties and community events and quickly built a reputation as the town’s magician. My first paid show was for St. Peter’s Church in nearby Geneva, Illinois. I earned ten dollars. As I began earning money, I invested it back into the show. As the scale of the show grew, it became evident I would need help. School friends Stacy and Kim, who both had a dance and theatrical background, joined me as the first in a long line of lovely assistants. Together we rehearsed constantly, building the young show, creating props, acquiring costumes, as well as sound and lighting equipment. We attended annual magic conventions, taking every opportunity to learn. We even competed and won twice in the youth division of the Abbott’s Magic Get-Together in Colon, Michigan, The Magic Capital of the World. Summer months kept us busy, performing for parties, fairs, and festivals throughout the Midwest.

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Aug16 toc