Photo Flash: Jay Johnson Hosts IT'S MAGIC! in Thousand Oaks

The art of producing illusions for the purpose of entertainment through sleight of hand, deceptive devices or conjuring has long ago surpassed the ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

The skills of producing a desired effect or result through the use of misdirect or various other techniques are much more advanced, so as to mesmerize or "Trick" the savvy audiences of today. It takes a much more educated hand to mystify or entertain a crowd than it did on the Vaudeville stages of early America and the founder of the Magic Castle, Milt Larsen, along with veteran producer, Terry Hill, have been offering audiences that little something new and exciting every year for 56 years with their annual production of "It's Magic!" The program held at the Thousand Oaks Civic Center Plaza, under the direction of Dale Hindman and hosted by Tony Award winner, Jay Johnson, last Saturday night did not disappoint. The scheduled performers included a veteran line up of illustrious illusionists such as Christopher Hart, Adam Trent, Rick Thomas and Magic Castle co-founder, Milt Larsen, as well as the close up talents of Rich Manley in the lobby during the shows intermission. Scroll down for photos!

Among those seen in the audience were such noted fans of prestidigitation as Tippi Hedren, Erin Murphy, Alison Arngrim, Lee Purcell, Jerry Mathers, Joanne Worley, Dawn Wells and Fred Willard.

The concept of "magic" finds its origins as something to have once been revered by aristocrats and feared by peasants in the biblical days of pharaohs and kings, to eventually find entertainment value in early Greece and Persia. For centuries, these men of illusion were associated with the devil and the occult, to eventually become revered as wizards and finally the accepted term of Magician ... while women still struggle with the labels sorceress and witch.

For some time, magic was performed either on the street as a type of entertainment for the common masses or at court for nobility. Stage magic allowed magicians to exploit the potential of space for hidden mechanisms and use of assistants to redirect the audience's point of view. The names that the public at large recognize include Houdini, Okito, Alexander, Blackstone., Cardini, Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, Henning, Burton, and Penn & Teller.

While many of the same techniques that modern observers recognize as conjuring have been practiced throughout history, and many of the principles of stage magic are old, the Magic Castle and the "It's Magic" productions have been introducing new ideas and cutting edge concepts to entertain new generations every year for more than half a century.

The Magic Castle continues to be the showplace for some of the greatest magicians from around the globe, taking great pride in showcasing the magnificent Victorian structure that houses many of the magical industries greatest secrets.

Photo Credit: Bill Dow

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