The last time illusionist Stuart MacDonald performed at the Croswell Opera House, he had just returned from the World Championships of Magic in South Korea and the theater was packed with fans.
With theaters closed across most of Michigan and social distancing guidelines in place for public gatherings, packed houses aren’t in the cards right now. But MacDonald still wanted a way to support his hometown theater, so he developed a new show that will take place entirely online.
MacDonald developed a completely new character for the one-hour show, which is titled “Richard Preston’s Cocktail Capers.” The premise? Mid-century entertainer Richard Preston, magician to the stars, was cryogenically frozen in 1962 so that he could entertain colonists in humankind’s first settlement on Mars in 2050. But with everything that’s gone wrong in 2020, getting the world through it in one piece will require the best of the best — so the governments of the world voted unanimously to thaw him early.
“He’s performing his show, just like he did on his 1958-62 world tour,” MacDonald said, explaining the premise. “The only difference is the setting. It’s a cocktail party with Richard Preston as your host and party magician.”
MacDonald describes the character as “a cross between Forrest Gump and Austin Powers” — an entertainer who has crossed paths with everyone from JFK to Elvis to Marilyn Monroe and influenced some of the twentieth century’s most notable events.
The show is also interactive, giving ticket buyers the chance to take part in the magic and even perform tricks themselves.
MacDonald, an Adrian native now living in Kalamazoo, has performed around the world, including shows in Greece, South Korea, Italy, Spain, China and the United Kingdom. In 2017 he was a guest on the TV series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.” He was able to stump the legendary duo and later performed with them in Las Vegas.
The show will take place via Zoom. Previews are at 7:30 p.m. July 23, 24 and 25, and tickets are $40 per household. After the preview weekend, tickets will be $50. Performances will be on weekends, July 30 through Aug. 16, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m.
“For the price of two tickets to the typical Croswell show, you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience and also support the theater,” said Croswell artistic director Jere Righter.
Ticket buyers will need to have an internet-connected computer with a webcam; phones are not recommended. To get the full experience, guests will want to have a deck of cards and a glass of water handy.
The show is directed by John MacNaughton.
Tickets and more information are available at croswell.org/cocktailcapers
==Photo credit: Dana du Jour Photography
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