BY RUTH RICE
The star of the show will appear – then disappear.
Haunted Illusions, featuring David Caserta, will spook the audience at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.
Caserta’s illusions will be different from those in a typical magic show, which usually has no scripting or theme.
“They do trick after trick with no meaning,” Caserta said.
“Magic is a theatrical art form with staging and scripting. It’s a different kind of entertainment.”
Before the show, a Halloween party will be held at 5:30 in the studio theater hosted by the arts center and Pitt-Johnstown’s theater department.
A haunted play area for youth ages 5 to preteen will include storytelling, crafts, games and refreshments.
Caserta’s show is nonstop, with no intermission and nothing but 90 minutes of magic.
“It keeps your attention,” Caserta said. “If you blink, you’ll miss it.”
Using comedy and scripting, he will attempt to walk through the center of a steel beam that has been inspected by an audience member, make ghosts fly around the audience, disappear, put 18-inch spikes through his body and levitate his assistant as well as cutting her in half in a coffin.
Even though it’s Halloween-themed, Caserta’s show is not gory and is suitable for the entire family.
He did caution that children – younger than 5 years old – might not understand some of the illusions and could become frightened.
Caserta said he spends from three to four years developing an illusion before beginning to build it.
He is proudest of Haunted Illusions, which has been touring for six to seven years.
“I hope the magic you see in this current tour will bring you back to that childlike wonder that you experienced when you were a kid,” Caserta said. “If, for just a moment, you forget about any problems in your life and believe in magic once again, then I have been successful.
“With every illusion, the magician must focus on every aspect of theater: Dance, choreography, directing, acting, lighting, sound and set design. That, to me, is exciting and motivates me to work hard to make each illusion magical.”
Magic has been a way of life to Caserta since he received a magic set for Christmas when he was 5 years old and growing up in Allentown, Lehigh County.
By the time he was 10, Caserta looked up magic in the phone book to find someone who would teach him magic.
He found a magic shop in Allentown called Magic World and took private lessons in the fundamentals of magic for two years.
“I could see the skill of magic,” Caserta said. “A child could learn how to present a trick to an adult, and the adult didn’t know how it was done.
“I was fascinated with how things worked.”
At 11, Caserta demonstrated what he was learning at his first magic show in front of more than 600 people at his elementary school holiday event.
Through his teen years, he attended magic camp and brought home an award for stage competition, taught courses in magic at the college level and produced his first full-scale illusion show to a sold-out audience when he was 17.
Caserta attended Muhlenberg College and graduated with a theater arts degree, serving as a consultant to the theater department and developing magic for the college’s plays and musicals.
During his college years, he took his show on the road, performing up to eight times a day at theme parks.
Caserta has developed his own company, Stonefield Productions, to produce magic shows at venues around the world.
What: Haunted Illusions with David Caserta.
Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 20, with Halloween party at 5:30.
Tickets: $15 and $25.
Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.upjarts.org.
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