Born the son of a clockmaker in 1805, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin originally intended to follow in his father’s footsteps. It wasn’t until he was in his mid twenties–when a shopkeeper mistakenly sold him a pair of books about magic rather than the ones about clockmaking that he’s asked for–that Robert-Houdin began thinking about magic.
His non-magical origins served him well; Robert-Houdin went on to amaze audiences, combining illusion and electricity for the first time, and ushering in a new age of stage rather than street performance. Robert-Houdin’s performances were often elaborate and some even involved intricate automatons he had constructed. He even set the top hat and coat tails example so many magicians follow today. It is for these reasons that he is often referred to as “The Father of Modern Magic.”
In fact, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin was so incredible he inspired another well known magician. After reading Robert-Houdin’s autobiography, Ehrich Weiss adopted the stage name “Houdini.”
Max’s favorite Robert-Houdin story is how he used magic to stop an oncoming war in the 1850s. Google it; it’s a way of using magic for the better good!
I’m involved with the very cool non-profit, The New York Children’s Theater Festival. I was invited to perform an excerpt from my Off-Broadway family magic show on their opening weekend. Audience members were treated to a magic pre-show right before the world premiere of “The Tale of Jamie Freel: A Faerie Story”.
Here’s a little background on NYCTF. This organization is New York’s only 501(c)(3) non-profit festival dedicated to the development of theater for youth. Their mission is to connect artists and industry professionals who are passionate about creating theatrical experiences and productions for children. They provide invaluable assistance and support to those dedicated to the craft of creating new works for young audiences. Their vision is that this festival will secure a foundation for the continual growth and transformation of live children’s entertainment.
This is only the second year for this festival, but I believe it’s already made an impact on the future of family programming. As an artist and donor myself I encourage you to check out The New York Children’s Theater Festival! You could be a donor too and get involved, click Here.
4/21/13 (Sunday): I’ll be joining my friends at The New York Children’s Theater Festival! I’ll be performing a short magic show to warm up the crowd before “The Tale of Jamie Freel: A Faerie Story”, a magical Irish tale perfect for ages 7 and up!
$18-$25, Buy Tickets!
The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater, 10 W 64th St
4/27/13 (Saturday): The Amazing Max returns to the Tribeca Family Festival! For the last 6 years I’ve been a featured performer at this annual street fair and family celebration. Lots of FREE activities, performances and experiences unfold all over Greenwich street in Tribeca. Don’t miss it!
2 shows: 1:45pm & 3pm, FREE
Hubert Stage, Greenwich St at Hubert St
5/4/13 (Saturday): I’ll be headlining the Washington Market School Street Fair! This fun family festival and fundraiser will feature an array of activities and a big Amazing Max Magic Show!
Main Stage, Duane St between West Broadway and Church StNews
Magicians in training, Carolina and Eloise, were so inspired after seeing The Amazing Max and Hamlet that they ran home to create their own show. Using their imagination, they became The Amazing Carolina and Amazing Eloise! With their piglet side-kicks, Hamlet and Piggy, they had a blast performing their own show!
When Max was a kid he loved to put on magic shows as well! You can perform your own magic show at home too! All you need is a BIG imagination and your own stuffed assistant! And if you want to learn some cool tricks maybe buy Max’s DVD?
At the height of his career, Harry Houdini extended an ongoing challenge to his fellow magicians—‘show me any card trick three times and I’ll be able to tell you how you did it.’
Well Dai Vernon took him up on it, and performed his card trick not three but seven times. Vernon had Houdini draw a card from the deck, write his initials on it, and then insert it back in the middle of the deck. Vernon then snapped his fingers and revealed that Houdini’s card was now on top of the deck.
Though Houdini never admitted to having been duped, his wife, Bess, later told Vernon that Houdini had been up half the night trying to figure the trick out—unsuccessfully.
Vernon’s knowledge of Magic was so great that there was almost no question he couldn’t answer earning Dai Vernon his nickname, “The Professor”. The body of work he left to the art of magic is so grand in scope that almost every living Magician, including The Amazing Max, has been directly or indirectly influenced by his work and the legacy Dai Vernon created.News
Perhaps the oldest and most famous magician’s tool is the magic wand. But where did the tradition of the magic wand come from? Believe it or not, the picture above is of a magic wand from ancient Egypt! In fact, wands and references to wands can be found across history and across the globe, from Central Asia to Europe to Indigenous traditions right here in America.
Even though the source of their power varies depending on where you are (wands from Egypt like the one above were meant to draw on the powers of the snake goddess) their purpose is always the same; to channel magic into a specific place for a specific purpose.
The Amazing Max gives out 8 magic wands to his assistants during every performance of The Amazing Max and The Box of Interesting Things!
Try using your imagination and making your own magic wand at home with stuff around your house!News
You may have never heard of Mark Wilson, but in the sixties he was a household name. In the early days of television, Mark Wilson created and starred in a series of magical television shows, most notably The Magic Land of Allakazam, which ran from 1960 to 1964 and brought magic into living rooms across the country.
Although he also had a successful career outside of television—performing in Las Vegas and around the world—Mark Wilson will always be remembered as the man who paved the way for all of the TV magicians who have followed him—and who made magic accessible to children across America.
When Mark Wilson was young, before he was famous, he demonstrated magic tricks at Douglas Magicland, a local magic store in Dallas, Texas. When The Amazing Max’s dad was a kid he would go to the magic store to see Mark perform! Mark Wilson is a huge direct influence on The Amazing Max!
Here’s a Douglas Magicland ad from 1956!
Harry Houdini is one of history’s best known illusionists—famous for his sensational escapes. He’s one of The Amazing Max’s favorites! Houdini began his career in magic in 1891, when he was just seventeen. Though he began with card tricks, Houdini soon made a name for himself as an escape artist. Often called Harry “Handcuff” Houdini, he would challenge police officers to find ways to restrain him. Over time, Houdini’s tricks became more and more complex—and dangerous. In one of his most famous acts, “The Chinese Water Torture Cell,” Houdini was suspended upside-down in a case full of water. The escape required Houdini to hold his breath for over three minutes!
Surprisingly, considering the dangerous nature of his acts, Houdini died of peritonitis on October 31st, 1926. This is why Halloween is also National Magic Day!
The Amazing Max lives on the same magical block in New York City that Houdini lived on!
Today was a very special day! The lovely Miss Christine and I got to spend our morning doing my favorite thing in the entire world, making children laugh.
This weekend we’re on a short tour in Texas and working with the Sci-Tech Discovery Center. We had some time to make a stop at the Children’s Medical Center in Plano, TX and boy I am glad we did. Seeing the smiles on those kid’s faces really made my day a little brighter. Click HERE to see more pictures from our hospital visit.News
The Amazing Max and producer Christine Cox are excited to announce that they will be offering an Autism, special needs and sensory friendly performance of the off-Broadway family magic show, The Amazing Max and the Box of Interesting Things.
The show will take place on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 1pm. Tickets are currently available on a first come first serve basis. A limited amount of discounted $20 tickets are available for this performance only. RESERVE NOW!
Magician, Max Darwin (aka The Amazing Max) will alter the show to adjust to the sensitivities of children with autism and other special needs. See a video clip of the show HERE. Handicap accessible seating is available. There will also be a quiet area available in the event anyone feels overwhelmed during the performance.
See what parents & family members of children with special needs had to say:
“My niece has autism but was able to engage and focus during your show in a way I rarely see – it is THAT good. Thank you!”
“I knew that he would enjoy the show if he could just push past his sensory fears of the dark and the unknown, and he did”. -Blogger, Love that Max Read the full post.