Magic is an art form best experienced live.

At least that's what Mark Kalin thinks. He may be slightly biased, however, since he's half of the team Kalin and Jinger, honored as "Magicians of the Year" by the Academy of Magical Arts in 1998.

"(The audience will get) the opportunity to experience magic the way it was meant to be experienced, which is live and in person," Kalin said in a phone interview. "A lot of people don't get to experience magic live. They may see somebody do card tricks or somebody at the mall or a party, but the actual experience of seeing a live stage production show with magic, with women levitating, tigers appearing, is something people have experienced on TV but haven't seen live."

Kalin and Jinger is just one of the acts performing in the Masters of Illusion Live! stage show this weekend at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University.

A love of magic

Kalin says he had a passion for magic since he was 9 years old.

"There was never any doubt in my mind of what I was going to do," he said. "I would do this for free even if they didn't pay me."

And for him, it's all about the sense of wonder.

"The real sign of a good magician is when you can turn that trick or that puzzle into something that creates a sense of wonder or sense of possibility," he said. "Magic performed properly can create that sense that nothing is impossible. There is a sense of wonder all around us. There may be things bigger than us."

When it comes down to it, there are seven types of effects magicians can perform: making an object appear, making an object disappear, transforming an object, levitating, reading somebody's mind, transporting an object and performing something to physical bodies that is impossible. With just seven effects, you'd expect the secrets of magic would be hard to keep.

"Secrets are a very, very small part of what we do," Kalin explained. "It has more to do with your presentation style - the originality of the magic you bring. ... You appreciate how each individual performer interprets that magic. For us, that's what makes the show fun."

Performers

The Masters of Illusion Live! show will certainly be bringing a diverse set of illusionists to the stage.

"Farell Dillon is a very charming young comedy magician," Kalin said. "Kevin James, who among magicians is really revered as a great inventor of magic, he does some very, very unique magic. ... Darren Romeo is also an illusionist; he combines magic with singing."

Also performing is Aaron Radatz, who has studied with many masters of magic including Harry Blackstone Jr.

Then there's Kalin and Jinger, the opening act of the show.

"Our job is to open the show with a lot of wow, a lot of fire," Kalin said.

Of the tricks the duo performs, Kalin said one of the most popular is the "Fire Spiker."

"I hesitate to spill details," Kalin said. "Jinger goes into a very tiny tight metal cabinet. The cabinet is penetrated with these flaming spikes. There's a surprise ending that catches everybody off guard."

But Kalin also enjoys doing some of the less dramatic tricks, including a simple sleight of hand with billiard balls.

In addition to Kalin and Jinger's act, the audience will witness a magical act that took YouTube by storm after Kevin James performed it on "America's Got Talent" several years ago. It involves an impressive cutting of a woman in two.

"It has to be seen to be believed," said Kalin.

"Logically, magic as we know it should not exist," Kalin added. "There are far more amazing things that we hold in our hands. Things around us all the time that we can't explain and that we just accept as the miracles of everyday life. ... One of the great mysteries of magic is how it can still entertain people and still surprise them when really there should be so many other things we should be amazed by."

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