Ted Outerbridge makes his living deceiving people. His interest in illusions and sleight of hand has supported him since he started doing magic shows for “$5 a crack” in Town of Mount Royal as a 12-year-old.
“I fell in love with magic when I was 7, thanks to (CFCF-12 television personality) Magic Tom Auburn, then I got a magic kit under the Christmas tree and I discovered I could do things grownups couldn’t do,” Outerbridge said. “When I was 13, I began collecting memorabilia. It started with props and other items I bought for shows and then escalated into other things.” The other things led to his own CFCF television special, The Magic of Ted Outerbridge, which helped launch his career.
Outerbridge has dipped into all of his resources and gone back to the roots of magic for his new show, Magician Extraordinaire, opening tonight at Centaur Theatre. He has spent the last three years developing new illusions and refining old routines.
“I am an actor playing the part of a magician. I use illusions. I can do tricks with just about anything,” Outerbridge said Wednesday during a break in rehearsals. The show, he said, is inspired by one of the rare books in his library, an original edition of Discoverie of Witchcraft, written in 1584 by Reginald Scott, which revealed for the first time how illusions are performed.
“I’ve been fascinated by my magical roots, and the show goes back to the days when magicians were thought to be sorcerers or warlocks who cast spells and could be burned at the stake,” he said.
The show combines music, dance, theatre and sleight of hand to create what he calls “a special kind of family entertainment.” It goes beyond the routine tricks of the trade, like sawing a woman in half. In one of his illusions, for example, Outerbridge makes a woman in a small basket disappear; in another, fire becomes a handful of sand, and a wad of soggy wet paper is transformed into a shower of confetti.
So does Outerbridge ever tire of people asking how he does it?
“If audiences stop asking me that question, if they stop wondering, Ill be in big trouble.”