Currently onstage at Encore Dinner Theatre every Saturday through January is illusionist Christian Ford. Following in the footsteps of David Copperfield and Lance Burton, 23 year-old Ford, an Orange County native, has an intelligent approach to the magic and a winning personality with everyone including kids. Titled Reflections and described by Ford as a journey through life, love and transformation, the show includes telepathy/ mental communication through cards, colors and basic info provided by q and a. On the plus side, there is a lot of audience participation. In fact, Ford himself is so personable that he goes into the audience and hand selects his volunteers, in spite of the fact that he has a pretty assistant named Stephanie, who could very well be doing this. Ford's grandma was a Native American and according to him she still communicates with him from the great beyond. With only hands grasping a tablecloth, the table underneath floats several feet into the air, alluding to her presence. For children, Ford instantly converts Tru Moo Chocolate Milk into a succession of other liquids including orange juice, apple juice, coke and sprite...all emanating one after another from the same container of Tru Moo. To avoid disbelief, samples of all the drinks are handed to the audience. Fun stuff!
Some of the more edge-of-your-seat moments of the show include a disappearing girl (Stephanie) whose shadow leaves one side of a metal contraption once she is securely boarded up inside of it (picture above). When unboarded, voila she is no longer in that section of the contraption... or on the other side. Where did she go? There's also a Let's Make a Deal-type game show where an audience member loses a hundred dollar bill and a raft of prizes...or does he? Ford, reminiscing about an old girlfriend, dips a paper snowflake into a glass of water and converts it instantly into a mound of falling snow...and the most dangerous of all, a game of chance with one loaded staple gun on a revolving table of staple guns, that if chosen, could puncture and severely injure Ford, who willingly staples his arm, chest and head. Of course, it's an illusion, but I actually cringed as Ford lifted the gun to his head...even though I knew full well that he must be safe. But... this is the stage where anything can go wrong... and often does. There is one other game in the show that really baffles the mind in which randomly selected participants each answer one of five questions, then Ford writes the answers on a chalkboard in clear view of everyone. Afterwards, from a box suspended above the stage, which is opened with one key that had been given to a member of the audience earlier, he withdraws a sheet of paper that has a list of the exact answers to the five questions, a duplicate of what's on the board. Amazing, you say? How can this happen? You try to figure it out, but alas you do not see what really takes place...making the whole process of magic so fun-filled and thrilling.
Christian Ford is a versatile and very talented magician with an easy-going, direct style that is warm and likable. He is capable of becoming as big as David Copperfield if he keeps on perfecting his show, giving it his all...and I'm sure that he will. On the constructively critical side of the coin, I must say that as much as I enjoyed the show, it could have more drama and flair. Ford needs a bigger opening, a bigger closing - the snow is fun but not nearly up to the big finish fireworks-like finale that an audience craves. Also, there should be no pauses in the transitions between segments. As is, things move smoothly, but in the pause, one of the crew or Stephanie could say or do something funny or appealing to lure audience into the next segment...kind of like in a vaudeville show in which there's absolutely no time to think, you're having so much fun. Right now, Ford presents a string of well produced magical feats, but there is not enough glue to hold them together. This is where true showmanship comes in. Ford is young, still growing, still perfecting his craft and experimenting with choices. I hope to return and see him perform again and... eventually see his name in bold neon lights on a Vegas marquee. As Ford intones, always DREAM!