llusionist Rick Thomas Brings Vegas-Scale Tricks to Lexington
By Andrew Cook
There’s a baseline level of distrust when it comes to magic shows, can we all agree?
You, the audience member, are subconsciously (or even consciously) on guard from the moment you take your seat. Whatever miraculous spectacles follow after are 100% dependent on you being duped, fooled, and bettered by someone who knows something you don’t and can do something you can’t - because if not, then you’re going home disappointed and dissatisfied by the fact that you saw the hidden mirror, saw the fake prop, saw the secretive handoff. You buy a ticket wanting to be mystified at the illusion, but that also means you’re knowingly putting yourself in a position of disadvantage, and like it or not, that puts our natural defenses up. “It’s impossible to accept that what’s unfolding up on that stage is real magic,” our brains reason with us, “which means that this is all just a show.”
Illusionist Rick Thomas embraces that show aspect of it all. He’s got the heavy leather duster coat, assistant girls in western saloon attire, exaggerated hand flourishes, and copious spurts of onstage flame that, taken altogether, almost borders on parodying the stereotypical idea of a Las Vegas magic act. They’re flashy, glitzy, glittery trappings that invite you to raise your eyebrows at the showiness of it all, because make no doubt about it: this is a show, Rick Thomas knows it’s a show, and he’s determined to put on a darn good one. Lucky for us, he’s made an entire career (a very successful one) doing just that.
Need proof, you audience skeptics who go to great pains searching for the suspension wires on the floating assistant? No sleight of hand here, Thomas was voted “Magician of the Year” by the Academy of Magical Arts and "Illusionist of the World" by the World Magic Awards, and has featured prominently in The World’s Greatest Magic on NBC and Masters of Illusion on the CW - not to mention countless other appearances on MTV, FOX, TLC, Animal Planet, and the History Channel, besides a special of his very own on ABC.
Subtlety is not the name of the game here, and that’s a glorious thing. Other magicians in other venues will try and befuddle you up-close with “is this your card?” feats of intimate showmanship. Instead, Thomas’ audience members from the front row to the furthest seat away are all getting equal bang for their buck… literally. Elaborate dance routines, exploding staircases, and a vanishing motorcycle as a centerpiece are the ingredients in a typical Rick Thomas performance (if anything about such spectacles can be called “typical”), with copious amounts of comedy and inspirational stories from Thomas’ life all weaving together into an evening of old-school, big-scale illusion of the kind often imitated but rarely seen today.
Again, natural instinct might call for us to cross our arms in distrust against anyone who, in a flowing tuxedo shirt, changes a woman in a cage into a literal tiger and back before our eyes. It’s the kind of bombast and over-the-top showmanship that’s largely gone out of our lives today in 2022, when the last two years of dour and downright catastrophic news headlines have conditioned many of us to expect the worst of our stark, grim reality. But that’s the point; showy or not, Rick Thomas is bursting onstage to rekindle some of that wonder, that sense of flash and liveliness that some of us so desperately need, and he invites audiences to simply enjoy themselves while he does it. If humdrum reality can be left at the door for the span of an entire evening, well… that’s a better magic trick than all the disappearing motorcycles in the world, isn’t it?
Illusionist Rick Thomas appears at Lexington’s Cary Memorial Hall on Friday, April 22 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $39-$59, and are available now at www.caryhalllexington.com, or by calling 1 (800) 657- 8774.