Originating in ancient Egypt, magic is an art that has mystified and entertained audiences for almost 5,000 years.
From Houdini’s Challenge Act to the levitating skills of David Blaine, the tricks of the trade have been purposely kept from the public to ensure a continuing response of curiosity, confusion and credibility.
Once the illusionary art is revealed, however, is there still any magic left?
After a 27 year-long career of shuffling card decks, playing mind games and performing coin tricks, Todd Shapiro remains enthusiastic about his craft. “I believe in magic,” says the long-time Montreal performer known as the Amazing Todsky. “It’s all about the wows.”
Clad in an unassuming and earthy getup, the magician returned to his Alma matter on Feb. 24 to educate university students with his act.
Graduating from Concordia University with a degree in creative writing, Shapiro has performed for the young, the old and the rowdy in over 1500 shows. “I enjoy, like they say, ‘having them in the palm of my hand,'” he says.
“His degree is something he could always fall back on. Magic is what he wants to do,” says Miranda Wray, who saw his act in her journalism class at Concordia.
Although he is commissioned primarily to entertain at birthday parties and retirement homes, Shapiro is trying appeal to a generation in between and closer to his age. “I want to reach [university students],” he adds.
With the high expectations of an MTV generation, he might want to stick to the kiddies. “I believe there are things that cannot be explained, but I don’t know if I would call it magic; there is a mystery to the world,” adds Wray.
Using storytelling and slapstick comedy, Todsky’s act is influenced by late magicians Doug Henning and Cardini, comedians Steve Martin and the Three Stooges and his involvement with Green Peace.
“I won’t pull a rabbit out of a hat, I don’t think he would appreciate it; I like simple tricks [and] I love the laughs,” he adds.
“He has his own sense of humor,” says Wray. Shapiro’s performance is an educational experience touching on aspects of the environment and other social issues.
Shapiro believes that society values quantity over quality and that the use of elaborate pyrotechnics in other magician’s shows has cheapened the fundamental art of entertaining through magic.
“You will always have to outdo yourself,” he says and then emphasizes the importance of showmanship over flamboyant and complicated stunts.
Shapiro believes that the simplicity of the trick and the “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd is the most satisfying and enjoyable aspect of a job that is not always easy or appreciated. Shapiro’s retro act reflects the basics of magic and, propagating that fact, has performed for audiences all over the world.
He’s journeyed from Venezuela to the Sinai Desert and holds from all his experiences that magic will remain in his future. “I aspire to appreciate the magic of everyday,” adds Shapiro.
An individual will often choose to become a magician to gain access to the most carefully kept secrets of all time.
Using the dexterity that only comes with hours of practice, he will entertain and mystify audiences. Once the mystery and fantasy ends and optical illusion becomes a reality, a magician can only remain successful within his vocation by truly believing in his craft.
“There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment,” says Norman Vincent Peale, an author of Enthusiasm Makes The Difference.
For more information about the Amazing Todsky’s performance, target audiences, background and critical acclaim visit his website at www.todsky.com