Kevin Spencer is well aware of the backlash that can happen from calling oneself a magician. Some people tend to conjure stereotypes of predictable tricks and sad-looking rabbits – but this is also what motivates Spencer to create a show that defies the norm and mystifies adults as well as children.
"We take all of the wonderful theatrical element of a Broadway production and combine that with a rock concert and wrap that around magic," says Spencer. "We’re doing things the audience has, hopefully, never seen before. We create illusions that take our audiences to a very different place."
Spencer – along with his wife, Linda – brings "Spencers: Theatre of Illusion" to the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $30 for adults and $20 for kids.
Spencer says he got started with magic at a very young age.
"When I was 5, I told my mom that when I grew up I was going to be a magician," says Spencer. "And as every good mom, she patted my head and said, ‘you can do whatever you want.’"
At eight, Spencer got his first magic set – and the rest is history. Spencer first hit the road with his show 25 years ago. At that time, all of his stage props fit in the back of his cargo van and took 45 minutes to set up. Today, he has much larger vehicles transporting his gear and it takes seven hours to prepare the stage for a show.
Spencer – often with his wife and a five-person road crew – spends 38-40 weeks on the road and performs four to seven shows every week. When they aren't traveling, the Spencers live in Virgina.
"I was born in Indiana, though, so I’m a Midwesterner at heart," he says.
In addition to the show, Spencer will work in the Brookfield area on Friday, Nov. 7 as part of the couple's "Hocus Focus" program, an experiential-learning program for students with educational challenges that supports learning through magic.
Spencer is also the founder of the "Healing of Magic" project and is considered an authority on the therapeutic use of magic tricks in physical and psychosocial rehabilitation.
Spencer holds an assistant professorship in the occupational therapy department at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and has conducted numerous workshops around the world for therapists, psychologists, physicians and rehabilitation specialists.
Although he doesn’t want to give away any surprises about the show, Spencer guarantees he will engage and baffle audience members of all ages.
"The magic is contemporary and sophisticated – but extremely family friendly at the same time," he says. "You can come as a college student or a parent and you will walk out scratching your head. And kids enjoy it, too, but on a different level."
Spencer says he works to build a rapport with the audience that’s not based entirely on the razzle-dazzle of magic tricks, but also through developing an intellectual and emotional connection through storytelling, theater and music.
"I base my shows on what good theater and good musical concerts are all about," he says.
"Spencers: Theatre of Illusion" trailer:
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.