Expect the Unexpected at 'Elephant Room'

Patch speaks with magicians Daryl Hannah, Dennis Diamond and Louie Magic who are currently plying their trade at Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theater in 'Elephant Room' through Sept. 16.

The Center Theatre Group's current production of Elephant Room at the in Culver City city, stars three magicians. Daryl Hannah (not to be confused with the actress with the same name) has honed his magic skills for the past six years at venues across the country and internationally. He appears in Elephant Room with fellow magicians Dennis Diamond, who has appeared on NBC's The World's Greatest Magic and the Late Show with David Letterman, and with Louie Magic, the current resident magician at Dazzles in Patterson, NJ.

Culver City Patch: What brought the three of you together?

Dennis Diamond: We are all magicians by trade. We all live in that world, and had known of each other as we make up a small fraternity. There must be roughly 4,000 working conjurers in the U.S. The thing that really got us together were the writers, Geoff Sobelle, Trey Lyford and Steven Cuiffo. 

Patch: How did the idea of tying up humor with magic for Elephant Room come about?

Daryl Hannah: When you are conjuring on stage you have to find your way into the audience’s heart. For us, comedy has always been a way in to allow people to feel at ease and allow them to enjoy the magic that much more.

Louie Magic: Comedy and humor is also a great technique used for misdirection in magic. If you can use humor correctly it can get the audience off their guard and then you can employ your secrets, if you know what I mean!

Patch: How long have the three of you been performing as a tag team?

Diamond: We have been performing together for about three or four years under the moniker the Elephant Room and it has been a wonderful time. We have played benefit gigs, theater,  we've done weddings, parties, you name it.

Magic: I have been a magician since I was a kid, but working together as a trio has been a true joy. It's been fun so far.

Patch: What are some of the biggest challenges that you face by being both a magician and actor on stage?

Hannah: For me the biggest challenge, (and there are many: the hours, preparing the set, etc.) is the ladies! It’s just amazing how many women come up to you after the show to kind of chat you up. You have to kind of find your way through it all.

Magic: I’m used to playing a lot of clubs. I’m the resident magician at Dazzles, which is Patterson New Jersey’s only magic night club. There it’s like a comedy club, where you know your audience. When we are performing in the theater there may sometimes be a bit of confusion from the audience as to whether they are seeing a play or a magic show.

Patch: What do you want your audiences to come away with after seeing the show?

Hannah: Without setting our expectations too high, we want to sort of change the way audiences look at the world, in a sort of profound, general sense that is indelible and irreversible. Maybe they came in jaded, cynical. When they come out they should be more pure, more perfect. They should be more angled towards love, compassion and understanding for their fellow man. They should have a kind of general sense of awe, awareness and wonderment of the world as a whole.

Patch: Harry Houdini and other great conjurers are mentioned in the show. In what way did he and other greats influence you and how you approach your craft?

Magic: Well you know you can go up to any kid on the street and he will probably be familiar with or know something about Houdini. Houdini is the touchstone for what magic was, and he was a great escape artist and magician. The kind of magic and style that we use in Elephant Room is way different from what Houdini did, but the spirit of what he did [is there]. We hopefully endow that in the show.

Patch: What is next on your agendas?

Hannah: We are all going to be touring Elephant Room a bit more. I’m personally working on a project incorporating a large illusion sequence using people, birds of prey and automobiles from different eras.

Diamond: I’m opening up a magic ranch in Paso Robles that will be called Magic Ranch. Jeff McBride and the Mystery School will be involved. That’s going to be a big thing for me, making the ranch happen in the compound.

Magic: I’m hoping we are going to get some serious traction here in L.A. and start picking up some additional gigs. Otherwise, I have my standing gig at Dazzles. It's a good solid gig where I can work on new material.

Patch: What do you think of today's magicians and how they are covered by the media? Are they getting enough publicity?

Diamond: There is a lot that is going out there... but no one is really being original. That’s the real challenge that we face in the magic community. We need to shake things up a lot.

Hannah: I agree with you Dennis, particularly with the whole Vegas scene…it’s the same acts, cookie cutter style. But there are some wonderful entertainers out there who are not on the large stages. They may be in colleges, comedy clubs and smaller stages. You have guys like Derek Hughes, Derek  Delgaudio, Michael Carbonara and Francis Benadi. I really believe we are about to enter into a new golden age of magicians, but the bright lights aren’t playing in the casinos [they're] playing in the smaller clubs.

Magic: The problem in the media is that there is always the same handful of guys. For us, magic on TV is inherently problematic. That’s the reason why we do it in theaters and in front of live audiences. It truly is a live performance art and can only truthfully be appreciated in a live capacity.

Patch: Could you see yourselves performing on television?

Hannah: If we were to do something like that it would be a completely unique experience and wouldn’t look anything like a Chris Angel show. It would take a very courageous television executive to want to take that risk on us. We have some big ideas, but we need some forward thinkers. We would take the entire medium of television combined with our craft of magic to another level. We would take it by storm!

Magic: We dare them to come to us. It’s a dare! It’s a challenge!

Elephant Room, written by Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle and Steve Cuiffo and directed by Paul Lazar plays at the Kirk Douglas Theatre through Sept. 16, 9820 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232. 

Click here for tickets and further information

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