FLINT TWP. — You can’t spell Michigan without m-a-g-i-c.
Michigan is home to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall and the World Capital of Magic in Colon. And this year, Flint Township will be home to the 50th Annual Michigan Magic Day May 4 at Carman-Ainsworth Middle School, 1409 W. Maple Ave., Flint Township.
Michigan Magic Day kicks off with a party May 3 from 7 to 11 p.m. at Best Western Plus, 6075 Hill 23 Drive, Flint. A full day of magic will begin at 8 a.m. May 4 with the opening of the dealer’s room where magic shops from around Michigan display and sell their goods. Guest lectures begin at 9 a.m. with each lasting about an hour and a half. A close-up show begins at 1:30 p.m. where Ring 36 member Tyler Gronauer, a senior at Kearsley High School, and his cousin, Tad “Mad Tad” Nyland, will walk around the venue doing cards and coin magic. Gronauer has performed at Detroit Pistons games at The Palace, and Nyland is a regular performer at famed The Magic Castle in Hollywood.
“If you’re a magician, The Magic Castle is the one thing you want on your resume,” said Chris Harper, treasurer of International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 36 of Flint, which is organizing the event.
This year, four world-renowned guest lecturers will be on hand at Michigan Magic Day to perform and explain how their magic tricks work. They are:
9 a.m., Henry Evans – Evans was influenced by his grandfather, a hobby magician, and began studying magic at the age of 11 in Argentina. He has traveled all over the world performing and competing in and judging magic competitions. He is a two-time winner of the Federation Internationale de Societes Magiques (FISM), or International Federation of Magic Societies, World Championships of Magic in close-up card magic. For more information on Evans, visit www.henryevansmagic. com.
10:30 a.m., Harry Allen – Allen is a master of ceremonies, lecturer and magic dealer. He has owned Daytona Magic in Daytona Beach, Fla., with his partner, Irv Cook, for more than 50 years. Comedian Henny Youngman was a close friend, and the two exchanged jokes for many years. Allen also runs the Daytona Beach Festival of Magic and has written several comedy books. For more on Allen, visit www.daytonamagic.com.
2:30 p.m., Silly Billy/David Kaye – Kaye has been performing magic and comedy for children for more than 20 years and is known as Silly Billy, one of the best-known children’s entertainers in the United States. He has performed for celebrities’ families, at Lincoln Center and the White House and on “The Late Show” with David Letterman. In 2014, Kaye became the first children’s magician in history to be recognized by the Academy of Magical Arts with the Performing Fellowship Award. Kaye performs for children in New York City and travels the world performing magic and speaking at magic conventions. For more on Kaye, visit www.sillymagic.com.
4 p.m., Gregory Wilson – Wilson is a two-time FISM award winner, known as “The Honest Conman,” and specializes in close-up magic, sleight-of-hand and confidence trickery. He performs at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and at large corporate events all over the world. He is one of the resident “Wizards” on the Syfy channel’s magic show “Wizard Wars with Penn & Teller.” He has contributed to numerous journals, magazines and books on magic and is also known for work in in the close-up areas of impromptu, ring/ rope and card magic. For more on Wilson, visit www.gregorywilson.com
FISM is an international organization that brings together the world’s leading magic societies and organizes the World Championships of Magic every three years. Harper said magicians have to submit videotapes to qualify and be selected to compete in the prestigious event. It includes several categories of magic, including general magic, manipulation, stage illusions, mentalism, comedy, card magic, micro magic, parlour magic and close-up magic.
“Some years they don’t think anyone is worthy, so they don’t award some of them,” Harper said.
An evening show will begin at 8 p.m. Allen, Kaye, Wilson, Lynard and Bill “Baffling Bill” Schulert of Lake Orion will perform, with Mike “Amazing Mike” Millenkov, member of Ring 36, as master of ceremonies.
A full-day pass, which includes the Friday night party, Saturday’s full day of magic and the evening show, is $50. Tickets for the Friday night party only are $5; Saturday’s close-up show or the evening show, $10; and the close-up show and evening show, $15 online and $10 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at www.theconjurorsclub.com.
Michigan’s history with magic was solidified when world-famous magician Harry Blackstone, who appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and several other television programs during the 1970s and ’80s, bought a summer home in Colon. Harper said it was there that Blackstone opened a magic shop with his partner, Percy Abbott. The two eventually parted ways, and Abbott later reopened Abbott Magic Co. and founded the Get Together, a weeklong magicians’ convention that has been going strong in Colon for more than 80 years.
“In those days, they traveled by train and had big trunks full of props and equipment,” Harper said. “They spent the summers in Colon repairing the props and traveled throughout the Midwest doing shows. (Blackstone) started a magic shop there and petitioned the president to allow them to have colored street signs, and they were the first city to have them. They were red with black lettering and a magician’s hat with a rabbit coming out of it. Now the Get Together is the first full week of August, and people come from all over the world and take over that little town and have shows every night.”
Harper became interested in magic in his 20s or 30s when he was living in Charlotte, about an hour north of Colon. He and his wife took their children on a weekend drive to Colon because he had always wanted to see Abbott Magic Co. He originally joined the Lansing ring, but when he moved to Flint 20 years ago, he started up the Flint club, which had died down over the years. He said Ring 36 has 15 active members, ranging from two boys who are 17 to Richard Wooten, 90, of Grand Blanc, who is an original member of the Michigan Magic Day Hall of Fame.
Harper said the group has been trying to come up with ways to get more girls interested in magic.
“Girls don’t have a lot of role models in magic,” he said. “Most of the women magicians are in China, Taiwan and Singapore. I raised my girls to be magicians, and now I’ve got granddaughters to teach.”
Last October, Ring 36 put on a magic show for Special Olympians and their families, filling the 800-seat theater at Davison High School. Members perform at schools, birthday parties and corporate events and at their family picnic in July. The group meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month. Harper said the meetings are themed to keep them entertaining and educational. The theme for tonight’s meeting is paket (cq) tricks, which are card tricks. Meetings are open to the public, ages 12 and older, at John’s Pizzeria, 9010 Davison Road, Davison. Those who attend can have dinner from 6 to 7 p.m. at their own cost.
For more information on the 50th Annual Michigan Magic Day or on Ring 36, visit the group’s website at www.theconjurorsclub.com or contact Harper, 517-896- 1685.