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Working their magic

The Nevada County Magician's Guild will present its fifth annual April Fools Show Saturday at the North Star House in Grass Valley. The show will benefit the historic venue. Micah Hogan perfects his act for the show in 2013.
Submitted photo |

The Nevada County Magician’s Guild is hosting its fifth annual April Fools Magic Show Saturday, which organizers promise will be a fun-filled night of mystery that’s enjoyable for the entire family.

The event will be at the North Star House, and all proceeds will go toward helping the venue renovate.

The guild was created more than two decades ago by Bruce Gauthier, who was drawn to magic from an early age. At 13, he joined a group of magicians, which allowed him to learn and begin performing on his own.



When he moved to Nevada County, he felt the community needed its own magic club for all ages.

“We have always looked for opportunities for our members to perform. In terms of the young magicians, they’re just looking to get their chops so that they can practice and perform in front of audiences.”Bruce Gauthier

“I tell the kids that the price of admission to our club is an interest in magic. But I also remind them that magic, as a hobby and as an art, is one of the few arts where you can sit at the feet of the greats and learn. The magic community is a very giving community, and we have lecturers available to us all the time,” Gauthier said.




“We happen to have a world champion magician living in Auburn, and he has come to give a lecture for our club multiple times. We have taken the funds that the club may have and paid admission to other lectures down in Sacramento. We’ve brought lectures up here to Grass Valley with magicians who have performed around the world.”

On the third Monday of each month, the guild meets at Calvary Bible Church. They discuss a wide variety of topics, including the history of magic, current events in the world of magic, and any experiences at shows the members have had. It’s free to join, and anyone is welcome.

If the money is there, Gauthier said, they sometimes take the group to magic shows around Northern California. He hopes to raise awareness about the guild and attract new members who have a passion for magic.

“I’ll meet up with parents who used to bring children to our club, and I have heard time and again how the club has influenced young men and young women. It just makes your heart feel better because magic is a venue for these young people to build esteem. Imagine having to be a public speaker while you’re trying to keep a secret from the audience. It’s not easy,” he added.

Originally, the guild began holding fundraising shows at the Nevada Theatre. Not only was it a financial help for the locale, but it was also a way for the aspiring magicians in the club to test their craft and practice their skills.

“We have always looked for opportunities for our members to perform. In terms of the young magicians, they’re just looking to get their chops so that they can practice and perform in front of audiences,” Gauthier said.

The opportunity to perform at the historic North Star House came about thanks to fellow guild member Peter Franchino.

“Peggy Levine is pretty big over there at the North Star House, so I started talking to her one day … way back when they were just starting to put it together, and I said that that would be a fun place to have a magic show,” said Franchino. “She jumped on that in a heartbeat.”

The new venue gave the magicians added space, and it has been put to good use. The show will consist of three different types of magic, said Gauthier, including parlor, close-up, and stage variations.

“What we’ve done is we’ve adopted a Magic Castle atmosphere. The Magic Castle is a famous night club in Hollywood and it’s the center of the magic universe. What you’ll find at The Magic Castle is different venues under one roof, and that’s what we have at the North Star House,” Gauthier said. “We have the dining room set up so that people are seated and watching magic happen right under their noses; a magician is at the table. We have a small parlor room where it is very intimate; you only have 20 people in the audience. And then we have the large family room where we have our stand-up performance, where we have 40 people in the audience and they are set back at a larger distance than in the other two venues.”

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a walk-around magic preshow. The main event begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at Mountain Pastimes in Nevada City for $5, or at the door for $6.

The guild is eschewing the multiple show format they’ve used in previous years, opting to give a one-time performance Saturday night.

Franchino hopes the show is a “shot in the arm” for the club he loves.

“(The club) is a free experience. It’s just real enjoyable. I’ve always said the main reason I teach magic is because I’m looking for the next Houdini. And we’ve had a couple of young people in our club who have gone on to college and have really kept going with it and they’re just really good,” he said.

Spencer Kellar is a freelance writer in Nevada City.


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