Posted on May 25, 2017 at 6:00 am
Summer is a fantastical time at the library—a time to build reading muscles with imaginative and real life stories found on the bookshelves. Summer is also the time when kids and families can see, hear, and interact with magicians, musicians, puppets, and more. These summer programs are geared towards kids entering kindergarten through fourth grade, and families enjoy these shows year after year.
First up for our Build a Better World Summer Programs is Magician Jeff Evans, performing Secrets of Wizards, June 19–23. Not only does he unlock the Secrets of Wizards for you, together we celebrate the magical things that happen when you open a book and read.
When I told my soon-to-be kindergartener that a magic show about wizards was coming to the library, his eyes grew wide with wonder and I had to assure him that I wasn’t joking. I’m sure his wonder will turn to delight when he sees Magician Jeff Evans in person.
I couldn’t wait, so I decided to get the inside scoop and ask Magician Jeff Evans some questions about his magic shows. He has good advice for young magicians (without revealing any secrets). However, to be truly amazed and entertained this summer, I encourage you to check out one of his performances in June!
Erin Dodge: You got your start in magic at age 12 with a book about coin tricks. Before that, were you an active child who performed and entertained other kids and adults? Or did you have to grow into the role of performer?
Jeff Evans: I had no other performing experience before getting interested in magic. I was a little on the shy side as a child, but sharing magic with other people was fun. The wonder of “How is it done?” is what got me hooked. Who doesn’t want to know a secret that other people don’t? Becoming an entertainer has definitely been a journey for me. Although I still do some of the same tricks now that I did ten or twenty years ago, the way I present them is very different.
ED: When did you know that entertaining people with magic was your calling?
JE: I was performing magic for hire throughout high school. Although I attended college, I was doing magic on the side the whole time and knew that I was going to do everything possible to make my career in the entertainment world. I can’t picture myself working an office job, sitting in a cubicle, or reporting to a supervisor. And after doing magic full-time since 1998, I’m not qualified to do anything else, anyway!
ED: You’re performing the Secrets of Wizards at our libraries this summer. How long does it take to create a new show before you reveal it to the world? Do your shows evolve over time?
JE: I created my Secrets of Wizards show in December 2000 when the Harry Potter books were being released. As you may know, each year libraries have a different theme for their Summer Reading Program. Right now I’m creating new material for my “X-STREAM Magic Show,” which I’ll be doing this June, July, and August for western Washington libraries. I write a proposal for the libraries six months in advance, get bookings, and then have to come up with a program that (hopefully) comes close to fulfilling the promises I made in my marketing blurb! It takes several months to create a new show.
My shows definitely evolve over time. The Secrets of Wizards show that I’m doing at Spokane County Library District locations this June will have updates. And of course now that all seven of the Harry Potter books have been out for years, there is extra material available to me that didn’t exist when I first began doing this show.
ED: You perform quite a bit of interactive magic, so there’s another person up on stage with you for tricks. Do you ever worry about a magic trick going awry when an unpredictable audience member is added to the mix? How much planning and practice is needed to make sure a trick stays on track?
JE: Kids say the darndest things! It’s the unpredictability that makes my job fun for me, too. I’ve definitely had audience volunteers do something either accidentally or on purpose to throw a trick off. But, like any improv or live theater show, you need to roll with it.
Sometimes these unexpected situations make for the funniest moments when the audience realizes that I’m having to make up something on the spot to make a trick work. Fortunately, by now I’ve just about seen it all and have a lot of “tricks up my sleeve,” so I’m rarely caught too off guard.
ED: What books, videos, or other resources would you recommend to aspiring magicians?
JE: The library has tons of great books—and DVDs—on magic. Find them in the 793.8 section. And of course there are many sites online both selling and offering free magic instruction. YouTube can be a good resource; however, take it with a grain of salt as you’ll wade through a lot of bad magic to find the good stuff. Several authors that I like and recommend for great books on the art of magic are Mark Wilson, Joshua Jay, Bill Severn, Harry Lorayne, Henry Hay, Bill Tarr, Jean Hugard, Karl Fulves, J. B. Bobo, and Richard Kaufman.
A word of caution about purchasing magic online: when you buy a magic trick, part of what you’re paying for is the secret. Magic tricks can’t be returned. And, they’re expensive! This is another great reason to get started with books from the library: check-outs are free.
I have created my own video course in magic at the Magic Tricks and Secrets website. I also do a Science Magic program for schools and have put a bunch of science demonstrations that can be done at home or in the classroom and accessed for free at the Science Magic Videos website.
The International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians are the two major magic organizations. Being a member lets you meet other magicians, attend lectures and conventions, see magic competitions, and more. You can also visit the Spokane Magic Club website to learn more about local meetings, performances, and contests.
Secrets of Wizards Magic Show
ARCADIA ELEMENTARY GYM (DEER PARK), 1120 EAST D ST
Monday, Jun 19, 10:30–11:30am
Monday, Jun 19, 2–3pm & 7–8pm
Tuesday, Jun 20, 11am–12pm
Tuesday, Jun 20, 2–3pm** & 7–8pm
Wednesday, Jun 21, 10:30–11:30am
Wednesday, Jun 21, 2–3pm
Thursday, Jun 22, 11am–12pm
Thursday, Jun 22, 2–3pm
Friday, Jun 23, 11am–12pm
Friday, Jun 23, 2–3pm
**Program with a sign language interpreter
Magician Jeff Evans has been performing magic throughout the Pacific Northwest full-time since 1998. Today his blend of clean comedy and interactive magic is honed to perfection in over 250 shows a year. Jeff has performed shows for Fortune 500 companies including Boeing, Microsoft, Pepsi Cola, and R. E. I. and for family-friendly events at county fairs, festival, schools, and libraries. He has won 17 first-place awards at magic competitions across North America, was named Seattle’s Funniest Magician in 2013, and received the Golden Teddy Award for Best Live Entertainment in 2013 and 2014 by ParentMap magazine. You can learn more about Jeff Evans and see videos and photos on his Facebook page, YouTube channel, and on Instagram.