It’s Magic Goes East, by Matt Roberts (LOTS OF GOOD PICS AND THEIR DVD )
The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut is home to a 10,000-seat arena that Billboard Magazine recently rated the 4th best venue in the world. It regularly hosts top acts including Billy Joel, Elton John, Bon Jovi, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood, to name a few. On April 24, 2011 Milt Larsen and Terry Hill’s It’s Magic show joined that impressive list. The show’s first east coast appearance in its 54-year history brought an all-star line-up that was worth the wait.
To host a theatrical production like It’s Magic, the arena was divided in half to accommodate a proscenium stage and an excellent lighting, sound and video projection package to make everything truly “play big” in this large venue. To give a perspective of just how large this room is, when mega-illusionist Franz Harary played Mohegan Sun in 2003, he performed in the casino’s 350-seat Cabaret venue.
The 3pm show on Easter Sunday began with the high-energy entrance of M.C. Jeff Civillico, a talented juggler, comedian and expert host who, after catching a ping pong ball on his forehead, wasted no time in introducing the first act…
Jeff Civillico burst back onto the stage and began his portion of the show by balancing a microphone stand on his chin, followed by a 10-foot ladder and then a 15-foot piece of scaffolding…and he was just warming up. A dynamic presence onstage, Civillico has a polish well beyond his years and the essential qualities of a good master of ceremonies. He knows how to energize a crowd, keep the show moving and command attention onstage with his own talents while also being able to redirect the spotlight, sincerely appreciating each act and motivating the audience to show their appreciation as well.
He ventured into the audience to find two gentlemen who could assist in the first participation segment of the show. There is a very large Asian demographic at the Mohegan Sun Casino, with many bus tours making regular stops there, and this show was marketed heavily to them. Civillico experienced the first of several language barriers that would occur throughout the show but expertly turned the potential problem into even more laughs during his hysterical unicycle routine. As the two men steadied his 6-foot unicycle, he climbed them like tree trunks, straddling their heads and twisting around to reach his seat atop the one-wheeled beast. Despite one man not understanding his English instructions, Civillico managed to mount the unicycle and ride it while juggling two clubs and a knife with a marshmallow impaled on the end before eating the jet-puffed snack, mid-pattern, in a routine that was one of the comedy highlights of the afternoon…”
Matt Roberts is a professional magician who performs annually at Boston’s Symphony Hall and is beginning his fourth season as the on-court M.C. for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena. He can be reached at [email protected]