BY TOM LAVIS
To become one of the country’s hottest and up-and-coming illusionists, Berks County native Jason Bishop will tell you it takes more than magic.
Hard work, dedication and a desire to succeed have served Bishop well.
Area residents will have an opportunity to see the results when the Fleetwood, Pa., native appears at 7:30 p.m. April 12 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.
“I’ve done and seen some amazing things that I’m really thankful for, but I’d say what has helped the most is to love what I’m doing and constantly work to improve it,” Bishop said.
“From the early simple tricks to the more complex ones, we are always trying to improve.”
Bishop’s first show was for the foster care agency that he was associated with as a youngster.
He was paid $50 for a Christmas show he did for the other foster children, and his passion for magic has continued to grow. He eventually progressed to perform at amusement parks and resorts in the Poconos and Catskills.
“When you’re starting in performing, you just need to get as much time under your belt as possible, wherever that might be,” he said.
Bishop has developed into an international award-winning illusionist who was the youngest person to win the Magician’s Alliance of Eastern States Stage Award and one of the youngest people to compete in the Society of American Magicians World Class competition.
The show currently features exclusive large illusions, award-winning sleight of hand and close-up magic that is captured live and projected onto screens for the audience to have a clear view of every detail.
Bishop currently is the only illusionist in the United States to tour with the rare double levitation, plasma screen illusion and a segment titled Op-Art.
He is looking forward to performing at the Pasquerilla arts center because it’s the size audience that generates great energy.
“When I perform for about 1,000 people, everyone can see the stage and screens clearly,” he said.
“I’ve done shows where we had as many as 2,600 people, and that was fun, but maybe a bit too big.”
No matter what size audience, Bishop strives to deliver a show that will have the crowd buzzing.
“I practice nearly every day and certainly every show day,” he said.
“If it’s a new piece, I’ll do it a couple hundred times to get it smooth before I ever do it on the stage.”
Bishop considers several illusions in his act to be showstoppers.
Like other magicians before him, Bishop makes ordinary playing cards appear and disappear in his hands.
But what separates Bishop from the others is his ability to bounce cards off the floor 20 to 30 feet into the air.
“That is an effect people usually enjoy and leave talking about,” Bishop said.
Arguable more awe-inspiring is his execution of a double levitation.
“My assistant, Kim Hess, floats 12 feet above the stage with no support visible above or below,” he said.
“At the end, there is a pretty decent surprise that is very cool and lots of people after the show mention that it was pretty impressive.”
The audience gets more than magic during Bishop’s performance. He displays an uncanny flair for comedy.
“I think comedy is an important part of magic,” he said.
“It’s a breath of fresh air and it makes the evening just more fun. I have had tons of people tell me after the show that I could easily be a comedian.”
Tickets, which range in price from $15 to $30, are available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or visit www.upjarts.org.
What: Illusionist Jason Bishop.
Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 12.
Tickets: Available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or visit www.upjarts.org.
Cost: $30, $26, $15.
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