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Poof! It's Magic

Back by popular demand, "It's Magic" is returning to the Gallo Center for the Arts with an all-new lineup of entertainers.

Five magic acts with different specialties will fill out this year's bill.

"That's the trick of what we do," said founder Milt Larsen of Hollywood's Magic Castle. "It's the old vaudeville format. In magic, there's so many different kinds of magic -- big stage illusions, manipulating acts, comedy acts. What we do is we have a great variety of different types of magicians."

The show sold out last year and is expected to do as well this time around. Instead of the one performance in the 1,252-seat Rogers Theater that was held last year, there will be three in the 444-seat Foster Theater.

"It's a show for the entire family," Larsen said. "You don't have to worry about embarrassing the children or embarrassing your grandfather. It's the Walt Disney of magic."

The magicians are top professionals who have worked in Las Vegas, on cruise ships and at corporate events.

Dan Birch, dubbed the "Lord of Illusions," will put on a high-tech show with lasers and will produce doves out of midair.

Jeff Civillico will perform his special brand of kinetic comedy with juggling, balancing and unicycling. Larsen said Civillico is one of the best jugglers he's seen.

Christopher Hart's act will play off his claim to fame as portraying a disembodied hand ("Thing") in the Addams Family movies.

Les Arnold and Dazzle will add levity in an upper-crust comedy act.

"It's a take-off on the sophisticated magicians," Larsen said. "He's always being Mr. Class. He has the white tie and tails and is an absolutely dignified magician. His assistant (Dazzle) is a bit of a scatterbrain, quasi showgirl who likes to upstage him all the time."

Chuck Jones does the most spectacular tricks, performing illusions like making people float and change places, while Tom Ogden serves as emcee.

Larsen has produced magic show revues in one form or another since 1956, starting with programs in Los Angeles. "It's Magic" served as a springboard for newcomers like Lance Burton, Mark Kalin, Shimada, The Pendragons and Harry Anderson, who have since become stars.

The show now tours around the country, playing such cities as Honolulu, Phoenix, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Malibu, Seattle and more.

Part of the enduring success of the show is that it gives people relief from the daily problems of life. That's needed more than ever with today's ailing economy.

"I've always said the greatest thing about magic is it's total escapism," Larsen said. "You can't possibly be watching a magician and be thinking about anything else."

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