Want to know how to tell if someone really excels at his or her craft? Ask their peers. In the performance of Magic at the Edge that we attended, there were no less than six professional magicians in the audience, and each introduced by the host. At least one, Steve Wyrick, headlines his own big illusions show at Planet Hollywood. At times, the magician Lance Burton drops by for a personal look. Every night Burton lends credibility to McBride’s master skills with a recorded description of their early theatrical encounters. Their professional competition pushed both artists to ever greater accomplishments.
Those arriving early were treated to personal attention and a chance to participate with McBride in mystifying close-up card tricks. Dressed in a telltale burgundy three quarter coat complimented by an ornate top hat, and ever-personable smile he easily mingled with the arriving group. Immediately in front of us he had a deck of cards shuffled and seemingly randomly distributed among four members of the audience. Then, without missing a beat, by suit he called out who held each card in the deck. OK, he did miss one beat; but that is staged to improve the effect. The affable and accomplished magician relies on skill, rather than big illusions to enthrall the audience. There are no white tigers that maul, or airplanes that disappear, or even huge circular saws to bisect some lovely damsel who then miraculously reappears intact.
No, it is the epitome of skill and charm that entertains. True to his advice to aspiring magicians, magic up front is adroitly performed. Heads turn. Cards fly. Water flows. Coins drop. Flames erupt. Digitally adept, McBride is credited in the Guinness Book of Records in three categories, most notably for having the fastest hands in the business. And then there is McBride’s signature act, a plethora of masks, transitioning in logic defying ways. Acquired on this post-modern shaman’s many trips around the world, they portend his deeper quest for real magic and understanding of eternal transformations. Aesthetically pleasing, this ceremony symbolically represents the essence of human interactions: changing, hiding, deflecting, reflecting, and transmitting. Almost mystically they can evoke emotional responses unexpected from a Las Vegas performance. There is a sensing that maybe there really is more to Heaven and Earth than are in Horatio’s dreams.
Intimacy with the audience is a key factor in the success of this performance. McBride, the professor, demonstrates his virtuosity of the magician’s art form by knowing his audience and connecting with each and every one of them. Indeed, McBride is a master of ceremony. It is a show you will not want to miss. And even better, there is a merry band of close-up magicians that continue to entertain participants well into the night.
Sound Trax Showroom is a 175 seat entertainment venue and lounge. Performances of Magic at the Edge are held Wednesday through Monday at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $49.00 plus tax. For tickets call (702) 547-5300 or go to: http://www.stationcasinos.com. The show is followed by Wonderground. Entry to Wonderground is $10 at the door. Patrons showing up in magical costumes before 10:30 get in at half price, and those who have attended McBride’s “Magic at the Edge” earlier in the evening can get in without paying any additional cover fee by showing their ticket stub from the earlier show.