News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today
FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007

You may not believe your eyes when Kevin and Cindy Spencer perform their illusions, such as levitation seen above, in Huntsville on Saturday.
Courtesy photo
You may not believe your eyes when Kevin and Cindy Spencer perform their illusions, such as levitation seen above, in Huntsville on Saturday.

Grand Illusions
Shut off your rational mind Saturday as husband and wife team perform their 'Theatre of Illusion'

By Patrice Stewart 340-2446

There's no university degree in magic tricks, so Kevin Spencer studied to be a clinical psychologist.

His interest in magic began at age 8, when his parents gave him a magic kit for Christmas. After college, he decided to follow his magic hobby and use the psychology to read the minds of his audience during shows.

If you catch one of his shows Saturday in Huntsville, perhaps you will be one of the five or six chosen to come up on stage to participate in one of his illusions. That's his favorite part of the show, "because it's not set up ahead of time, and you never know what people are going to do," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday between performances in Kansas.

Spencer has a couple of unusual tricks to his credit. He made the Stanley Cup vanish — and then reappear along with Hockey Hall of Fame legend Larry Robinson — to kick off an NHL All-Star Weekend. And he made the contemporary Christian music group Audio Adrenaline magically appear before a crowd of fans.

He has a hard time deciding which show illusion he likes best — walking through a concrete block wall, as Harry Houdini did in 1914, or crawling through the spinning blades of a giant industrial fan, or the "Spikes of Dome," or the "Cube Bag."

Of course, he always cuts someone in half, as most magicians do, though he said he's "always trying to work on something new."

"I end each show with a dramatic underwater escape, which always has an element of danger, because they chain my wrists and padlock my ankles and neck to the bottom of a big tank with 250 gallons of water," Spencer said.

"This production features all my favorite effects to perform, and each has a different flavor," he said. "Like any good artist, whether musician, singer or illusionist, I try to give the audience a variety. Some are funny or romantic, while others are suspenseful or dramatic; I lean to the dramatic when I have to choose just one."

Spencer shares a few romantic illusions with his wife and on-stage assistant, Cindy.

Spencer, who grew up near Jackson, Miss., and attended colleges in Tennessee and Virginia, said he started out living with friends and doing shows in Texas after college. Cindy was dating one of the light and sound technicians for the show and said she'd be happy to help out on stage, because she was usually around.

Their rapport on and off stage turned out to be "magic," and this is their 24th season together on the road. A crew of six and an 18-wheeler full of equipment to create their illusions accompanies them.

'The Healing of Magic'

When not performing, the Spencers work with therapists in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities on "The Healing of Magic" program, which they developed in 1984 to teach simple tricks. This helps victims of stroke, accidents, spinal cord and head injuries and others improve their motor and cognitive skills while having fun.

"Using my entertainment art form to improve lives is a real passion of mine," said Spencer. He is about to head to Singapore to teach the program, which is used in 1,6000 hospitals in more than 30 countries.

If you go

What: The Spencers: Theatre of Illusion

When: Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.

Where: Von Braun Center Concert Hall, Huntsville

Tickets: $18 to $24 for adults; $8 to $16 for students; $5 for all balcony seats; available from sponsoring Broadway Theatre League office, 518-6155, and at its Concert Hall ticket window before each show

On the Net

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