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'Theatre of Illusion' to appear in Detroit Lakes this Friday

Kevin and Cindy Spencer will bring their "Theatre of Illusion" to DL's Holmes Theatre on Thursday.1 / 3
Kevin Spencer performs in this "Theatre of Illusion" show.2 / 3
Kevin and Cindy Spencer have been a husband-and-wife magic duo for 25 years.3 / 3

Do you believe in magic? Kevin and Cindy Spencer do -- in fact, it's what brought them together.

The couple, who will bring their "Theatre of Illusion" to the Historic Holmes Theatre this Friday, March 13, first met when Kevin's roommate -- who was Cindy's fiancée at the time -- was doing the light and sound effects for his magic shows.

"I was doing shows around Texas and Oklahoma, and Stan (the roommate) would come along and bring Cindy with him, because they were engaged," Kevin Spencer said in a telephone interview earlier this week.

"After coming to a few of those shows, she asked if I needed some help (on stage)," he continued.

In time, Cindy and Stan "came to an amicable parting of the ways," as she and Kevin "became good friends, and then best friends, and then realized we had fallen in love," he said. "It was the perfect romantic love story."

Though Kevin joked that he "made Stan disappear, and we haven't seen him since," in reality, both he and Cindy are "still very good friends" with him.

The Spencers, meanwhile, would spend their next 25 years together developing what has become known as their "Theatre of Illusion."

"We used to fit everything into the back of a cargo van," Kevin said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would be in this place -- the second largest touring illusion show in the country (only David Copperfield's is larger)."

What makes the Spencers' show so popular, Kevin believes, is that it is unique.

"Most of the illusions in our show were created for us, or redesigned for us," he said. When audiences come to see their show, they are pretty much guaranteed to "see things they've never seen before," Kevin added.

But it's more than just a show filled with one awe-inspiring magic trick after another -- it's a complete theatrical experience.

"We let our audience experience a wide variety of emotions -- from light-hearted and funny to dramatic and romantic," he continued. "We want people to leave our show feeling they've experienced the magic we do on stage, not just watched it."

Part of the Spencers' show is interactive as well.

"We do a lot of things with people in the audience," he said. "It's the most fun part of the show, and it adds a whole other dimension to the magic that makes it so much more believable.

"It also adds a level of spontaneity to the show that's unpredictable -- I love that."

In fact, working with different people and different venues for each show is part of the excitement for Kevin Spencer.

"Being in a different city working with different people every night is great fun," he said.

While many magicians might choose to have a permanent show, based in a single city like Las Vegas or New York City, Kevin actually prefers life on the road.

"I would never want to settle (in one city)," he said. "I would be incredibly bored going to the same theater day after day. I love the road, I love everything about touring."

One of those things he loves is the opportunity to do educational outreach work, using magic tricks as a healing tool for the physically challenged, through a special program called "The Healing of Magic."

In fact, he hopes to do some of that outreach work at local schools during their visit to Detroit Lakes this week.

"I like to leave something behind, long after our trucks have left the loading dock," he said. "We've been talking with (Historic Holmes Theatre manager) Amy Stearns about bringing our show to Detroit Lakes for about five years...we were finally able to put it all together so we could pull into town and do something significant. I'm excited Amy was willing to take that all on."

But beyond that, Spencer is also excited to be bringing their show to Detroit Lakes -- and a new audience -- for the first time.

"We are going to be featuring an illusion in this show that was first performed by Houdini in 1914," he said. "He walked through a solid brick wall on stage."

After performing that illusion for a couple of months, Houdini stopped -- and never did it again. No other magician had attempted it again either...until Kevin got a call from one of the people who helps them design the illusions for their shows.

"He said, 'How would you like to walk through a wall?' For the next couple of years, we worked on doing a contemporary version of that illusion."

Detroit Lakes audiences will get to see the result of that work when Kevin walks through a wall of solid concrete on the Holmes Theatre stage.

"Another illusion I'm very proud of is called the wind sheer," he said. "I get to pose like a rock star for this one."

Kevin will stand on top of a giant industrial fan, which will be turned on and shown to the audience -- before he crawls through the revolving blades.

"It's a very dramatic illusion," he said, adding that the show ends with even more drama -- an underwater escape that was also modeled after another illusion created by Harry Houdini.

"The Theatre of Illusion really is a combination of a love for theater and a passion for magic," said Kevin. "People have always been fascinated by magic, but I've always been of the persuasion that magic can move an audience in the same way that great music and theater can move them."

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show on Friday, March 13, are $22 for adults, $11 for students, and may be purchased at the Holmes Theatre Box Office, 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes, online at, or by phone at 218-844-SHOW (7469).

For more information about Spencers' Theatre of Illusion, visit the Web site,

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454