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Nelson Illusions: ‘Smoke & Mystery’ At Macey Center

SOCORRO, N.M. March 17, 2015 – Magic at its best, from a woman sawed in half to incredible death-defying stunts, will take center stage at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, in a Performing Arts Series (PAS) event.

The “Nelson Illusions: Smoke & Mystery” show will amaze and astound audience members of all ages, as the largest touring illusion show in the United States makes a first-ever appearance in Socorro, along with over 30,000 pounds of equipment.

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“All I can say is, ‘Wow!’ This is going to be an absolutely incredible show,” Director Ronna Kalish said. “Four master magicians headline an evening of illusion and sleight-of-hand guaranteed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.”

The performance features the largest illusion ever seen: the 21-foot-long Drill of Death which goes through a woman and lifts her 18 feet in the air, as part of a one-of-a-kind theatrical spectacle that combines rare and original illusions from around the world with award winning, jaw-dropping magic.

Each of the four master magicians, two men and two women, brings to the performance his and her individual styles and audience rapport in an entertaining blend of mystery, drama, romance and comedy.

“The art of magic is both beautiful and astounding,” Kalish said, “and these four master magicians rank with the very best in existence, as attested to by audience reactions and highly favorable reviews.

“In addition, select audience members will be brought to the stage to witness first-hand the incredible art of illusion, even as they ‘assist’ with the performance,” she said.

Show highlights include a girl sawn in half in plain view, an elegant lady who floats in circles, a woman who climbs into a sheet of solid steel, a girl who risks death on the point of a giant industrial drill, and much more.

Now let’s meet the master magicians:

Jeff Nelson fell in love with magic at age five and has been performing ever since. He began with learning sleight-of-hand and close-up magic, then moved on to study the history of magic, state performance and illusions, making Nelson an all-around magical specialist.

He studied acting, mime, production, lighting and sound technology at the university level, where he met his future wife, Lynn; and, as they say, the magic truly began.

Together, the couple created a world-class illusion show and developed a number of the original illusions and routines featured in it. Nelson’s skills have earned him awards as well as television credits as a magical consultant. He constantly works to improve the show, with the belief that theatrical magic is a pure art form.

Lynn Nelson has a tradition of performance and theatre in her own family; her grandfather managed a large vaudeville theatre in England. She grew up listening to tales of magic and the theatre passed on to her by her dad, who created many tricks for her when she was a child, as well as encouraged her in the art, and in woodworking – skills she later applied to the show.

She studied theatre and performed magic in high school variety shows, before going on to take university courses in stage acting, design, costuming, sets and props production, on her way to earning a bachelor’s of fine arts degree. While she still accompanies her husband in the performance of illusions, Lynn is a skilled magician in her own right and presents a number of solo effects in the show, including an award-winning parasol act.

Sharii Nelson made her first stage appearance by pulling her father’s straight jacket off stage at the age of 18 months. Since then, her repertoire has expanded considerably. Sharii is a magical prodigy whose performance skills have earned her a scholarship along with several competition awards including “Best Newcomer,” “Best Junior Stage Act,” and a coveted “Award of Excellence.”

As a magician, she has worked on a cruise ship, toured with a circus and performed in theatres throughout the United States. Because she grew up constantly being on the road and performing, Sharii was home schooled. When time permitted, she studied dance and acting, skillfully incorporating them into her stage performance.

In the show, Sharii presents a world-class cabaret act, producing eight doves and a large parrot. She also performs an eerily elegant floating table routine and is featured in a number of illusions.

Scott MacNeill studied acting, stage lighting, set production, properties and music in college. His travels have taken him from Pennsylvania, where he grew up, all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he absorbed the vibrant culture and performed. There, he further developed his love of the stage and the performing arts. MacNeill’s variety of experiences has allowed for a versatile set of unique talents that he brings to Nelson Illusions.

Sponsors are Associated Universities Inc. (NRAO), the City of Socorro, Wells Fargo, the Student Government Association and Comfort Inn.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens 65 and over, and $10 for youths 17 and under, and are available at the Cashier’s Office, Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up, online at nmtpas.org or at the door.

– NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech