Sirk TV Exclusive Print Interview: Milt Larsen (Of Magic Castle) For “It’s Magic” [Lobero Theatre – Santa Barbara, CA]
There is nothing more magical and real than looking in the star-like eyes of your kid mesmerized by a magic show. This was the scene at the Lobero Theatre for “It’s Magic”, the longest running all star magic revue produced by the famous Milt Larsen, the founding spirit of the Los Angeles landmark Magic Castle. Since 1965 the talented and mysterious magicians behind this mind challenging event have been transporting families to a land where the impossible seems easily reachable and the dreams full of possibilities.
This year one could be amazed by the talents of Dan Birch and his dove appearing tricks, Chuck Jones, Ray Pierce (who is one of the top performers at The Magic Castle), Eric Buss and his legendary magical humor and finally host Matt Marcy, a unique magician with over 3,000 shows under his belt. This truly is a fantastic line up of one man more amazing than the next.
What very few people know is that this show is the magical child of one amazing mind and gentle soul: Milt Larsen.
Milt’s life is truly magic because indeed he knows how to capture the moment and pull it out of his magic hat like a white dove going through the mirror mirror of existence.
He is an inspiration for all of us because he shows that with perseverance, hard work and lots of pure fun you can really transform a bunny into a beautiful girl, oil into gold and perhaps prolong life and trick death until another day comes…
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon Milt shared a brief moment of relaxation with us as he is embarking, at 82, on a life full of wonder to come and magical apparitions to take your breath away:
STV: What’s different and unique with the show this time around?
Milt Larsen: I think we have been faithful to our vaudeville format with a little bit of magic and lots of humor. Mainly what I think is unique is the personality of each magician and how they can connect with the audience to make it a more personal experience.
STV: Is it a sign of the times that one needs to rachet up the humor and make people laugh even with magic involved?
ML: It’s very important to make people laugh. That has been true with magic since the beginning of time. 100 years ago you could see magicians who were trying to transport people into another dimension with dreams. The key to all magic is the total escape art: to step into a world where everything is unreal…like “Alice in Wonderland”. It’s all about going to the other side. The big difference (in comparison) to movies for example is that magic can be as real as possible. It’s not about big digital effects. It’s not about blowing things up. With magicians you can sit next to them and see things appear and disappear. It’s not a camera trick. You know if for real. You can feel it. It’s not about the technical. I’m a great fan of living theater…and “It’s Magic” is about that: about performance.
STV: How do you explain that your magic show is the “longest running show” going as far back as 1965?
ML: Actually we go back to 1955! We provide good clean family entertainment with lots of variety. And you’re happy to take your kids or your grandparents. I think that is the success of this recipe: to truly put together a family oriented experience. We love touring from Palm Desert to Palm Springs on the West Coast. We put on 7 or 8 shows, always trying to offer a top quality show with lots of different type of magicians. [From my perspective] as long as you do your best and offer the best you will be successful.
STV: Do you see differences between magic being done here on the West Coast, the East Coast, Europe or the elsewhere…or is it now just One Magic World?
ML: I think Magic is Magic! It is a One Magic World. Before they were a little bit of differences with Europe but now magic is mainly done in casinos so it’s very similar everywhere. Cruise ships also have big magic shows. Magic is very visual and therefore magicians don’t need necessarily to speak that much. Someone not speaking English can still perform in front of an English speaking crowd. For example, we provide (through The Magic Castle) magicians to Japan and most of them don’t speak Japanese. Their acts speak for themselves.
STV: What’s going with the movie based on “The Magic Castle”. Is the director McG going to be doing it?
ML: The film is being produced by Radar Pictures. 20th Century Fox will release it. Indeed McG ,who is famous for the “Charlie’s Angels” movies will direct. It is starting production pretty soon. The concept is in the tradition of a grand house on the hill with a magic family but it will also be action driven. We hope it will be released by the end of the year. The Magic Castle has been in many movies but it’s really a new concept to make a complete movie around this amazing place.
STV: Stan Lee from Marvel Comics always puts himself as a cameo in his films based on his comics. Will you do the same and do a cameo in the movie based on your Magic Castle?
ML: That’s funny. If they ask me of course I will do it but it’s not part of the planning right now. There will be lots of cameos from many famous magicians for sure.
STV: What new is going on with The Magic Castle?
ML: The only difference is that we have been expanding quite a lot. We’ve been doing lots of remodeling and trying to keep up with the times. That’s why we have been there for over 50 years because it’s such a unique place.
STV: Let’s talk about your book which is coming out soon.
ML: It’s mainly an autobiography. The whole concept behind it is that I was born in a magic family and all my life I have been involved with things dealing with magic. I have produced shows. I’ve had 3 theaters. All of my journey has been magic. I’ve had ups and downs for sure but overall I have had such a great life. The subtitle of the book is “My First 30,000 days”! I’m 80 years old! I’m still far from retiring and I have plenty of projects. The book is full of hopes and humors which is why I think people will enjoy it.
STV: What do you think has been the most important thing you have learned in life?
ML: You need to enjoy life…not in the sense of a pure whoopee existence but truly to try to appreciate and smile at life. You need to be able to share and appreciate your time with your family and appreciate and enjoy what you’re doing with your life.
By Emmanuel Itier
Posted on March 4, 2013, in Arts Travel & Culture Features, Entertainment Industry Coverage and tagged Chuck Jones, Dan Birch, Emmanuel Itier, Eric Buss, It's Magic, Lobero Theatre, Magic, Magic Castle, Matt Marcy, Milt Larsen, Santa Barbara, Sirk TV. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.