09/28/07 — Magic show features local couple

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Magic show features local couple

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on September 28, 2007 1:49 PM

Vicki Michaels used to be cut in six pieces when she and husband Taylor did their magic act. Now she faces even more: Each of those six cubes is pierced with a sword.

It's part of the LaGrange couple's new show that's bigger, more theatrical and coming soon to the Wayne County Regional Agricultural Fair.

Today and Saturday, the Michaels will present Magically Medieval. A couple of days later, they will carry the show to the Pitt County Fair in Greenville.

The show includes a rapid series of magic tricks, followed by a huge illusion and concluding with audience participation. Along the way there will be explosions and pyrotechnics.

It's not just magic -- "it's theater," Taylor says.

The Michaels have been performing magic for several years, first in their home state of California and then in North Carolina.

The change to a medieval-themed show is a step up, they say, one they hope will change their magic from part-time to full-time work.

They began putting the show together last spring. Needed were new costumes, props and a 25-foot by 16-foot set that requires hiring assistants to help put it up and buying a trailer in which to carry it.

It's been quite an investment -- in time, work and money -- but worth it, they say.

They chose the theme, in part, because the medieval time period matches magic so well.

"All magic that's real magic -- there's a trick to it," Taylor says. "It's special effects without a camera. What makes magic magic is a lack of technology. In medieval times, there was no technology, so it fits."

The Michaels also like that people often think of the medieval times as romantic.

The strange thing, Taylor says, is that, although their new theme deals with ancient times, it has a contemporary edge.

Switching from the modern theme they had been using to a more ancient one has required some experimentation. For example, Vicki's costuming had to be worked out. The Michaels wanted it to flow, but not so much that it blocked the space between her and the table from which she levitates.

The couple have also worked on strengthening the set. Recently they took their show to the Cumberland County Fair. The third day they were to perform, they received a call. Heavy winds that had struck the county had taken their set down.

Putting it back together required several hours and the cancellation of one performance, but resulted in a discovery of how to improve the set.

"We learned a lot about how to anchor things," Vicki says.

Still another change is Vicki's role. In the past, the couple's magic show bore Taylor's name, but he says he didn't like that because he and Vicki are equals.

Though he is the one who has been performing the tricks, Vicki has done several things that enable him to do that. Now, the couple have been adding tricks that put her more in the spotlight.

"Bit by bit, she's doing more magic," he says.

The couple laugh as they discuss her increased involvement on stage.

"I'm not a person who ever thought of my being on stage," she says. "He's kind of pulled me along on every crazy idea he's had."

"I keep bringing home hot blondes," he jokes. "I say, 'This is my assistant ... or are you going to do it?'

"So I get a hot brunette instead," he says smiling, referring to his wife.

The couple are pleased with how the show is going and would like to eventually tour it across the country.