By: Martin S. Gonzales
“There’s just something very seductive about magic because it is at heart about lying and deceiving, but in an acceptable way. I like to think of it as telling the truth by lying,” said magician Steven Spill, owner of Magicopolis, a theater in Santa Monica dedicated solely to magic acts.
Spill and his wife Bozena Wrobel will be sharing plenty of “truths” in their new magic show, “Escape Reality,” which recently opened at the theater. Created by the couple, the show mixes illusions with a comic sensibility in a self-contained drama with skits that are entertaining for the whole family.
“Most magic shows are in Las Vegas, for one thing,” said Spill, “and they are mainly aimed at adults. The only Magic available for kids is usually a clown at a birthday party. We wanted to offer something the whole family could watch.”
The show and in fact, the theater came out of desire for this happily married couple to spend more time together. When they met, Spill already had a 20-year career with his nightclub magic act, performing in clubs and casinos throughout the world. Wrobel was an actress working on jobs both in her native Poland and in the States. She has been featured in two dozen European films, worked with Oscar-winning director Krystof Kieslowski’s “Decalogue” and has appeared on numerous U.S. television sitcoms including “Seinfeld,” “Dharma & Greg” and “Married With Children.”
“The show and this theater are like our happy child,” said Worbel, in her lovable Polish accent. “He’s a really good magician and I’m an actress and wanted to work with actors and this is our happy creation.”
Since opening in1988, Magicopolis has featured mainly established magic acts such as Penn and Teller, who were the club’s first performers. This is the second show performed by Spill and Wrobel.
Part sketch comedy, part melodrama, Spill likes to think of the show as a series of dreams. A woman falls in love with her psychiatrist before he gives her a lift, making her float in the air. In another skit, a woman remembers the magical childhood walks she would take with her grandmother.
“Most of the skits we do in the show are based around an idea or motivation and are presented in a theatrical manner, whish allows all of our audience to enjoy the show. Some people come just to see the great magic show, and others, especially adults, appreciate the theatrical aspects of the show. And, of course there is a whole other experience of parents watching their children’s delight in the illusions,” said Spill.
Spill knows well the child-like delight that magic brings out in everyone, both young and old. As a child he grew up around a world of illusion and fantasy. His father, a semi-professional magician, was the manager of the well-known Los Angeles Magic Castle, a private club for magicians.
Spill’s fascination with magic is apparent in subtle ways in Magicopolis, what he calls his laboratory for his and his wife’s magical and theatrical experiments. He proudly shows of a door handle on one of the entrance doors that comes from a home owned by his life-long idol, Houdini.