Showing posts with label Le Grand David. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Grand David. Show all posts

Monday, October 16, 2023

Remembering The Magi On HIs Birthday


Websters Dictionary lists the definition of MAGI as, "A Persian Priest or wise man, another definition is sorcerer, or related to magic.  Cesareo Pelaez was born Oct 16th, 1932, he was destined to be a magi from the start. He would fulfill that definition being a wiseman, sorcerer, the kind related to our magic.

Cesareo was certainly many things to many people: teacher, professor, instructor, coach, director, mentor, friend, magician, and magi. I'm sure he was other things as well. He was leader of sorts to a 'rag tag' group of individuals who got together in the late 1970s to pool their resources to buy a theater. What? Yes you read that right, buy a theater! And again, whether they realized it or not, their next endeavor would be working creating, building and then performing in a magic show, a theatrical magic show, a must-cast magic show unlike anything that has been on the stage for 50 years.    If you are a newbie to the world of magic, the theater that was purchased was The Cabot St. Cinema Theatre, the show they created was Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company. In time they would purchase a second theater, The Larcom Theater, and produce a second completely different show, Le Grand David in Concert. And though the show was his idea, he wasn't even the STAR, he turned that over to David Bull, who would be Le Grand David. Cesareo chose the stage name, Marco the Magi. 

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this show of theirs continued for 36 years, up until the year when Cesareo passed. He died before the Season was over. But the company chose to finish out the season in tribute to their leader and friend.

It takes a special person not only to come up with such things, but to motivate others, outsiders, to pick up that dream as well and run with it. That was Cesareo.

He was one of two people I met in the world of magic that had a life-changing affect on me. And oddly, it wasn't so much the magic that had anything to do with the life change. It was just something he said to me that seemed to clear out the fog and cobwebs of confusion. I know if it wasn't for Cesareo, there would be no blog today. Without his encouragement, I wouldn't have started painting again. At least not as soon as I did. Without his encouragement, I wouldn't have begun to write.

So today I say, Happy Birthday to my friend who left us back in 2012.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Remembering a Great Magic Show, Le Grand David.


David Bull, the lead performer of Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company Show, mentioned on his Facebook page that today, May 27th, 2012 was the last performance of their grand show. It's been 10 years since that show closed it's curtains. And it had an incredible 35 year run.

The brainchild of Cesareo Pelaez, he along with a dozen or so fellow artists/performers, created a one of a kind spectacle of magic and variety arts. They purchased their own theater, The Cabot Cinema Theatre in Beverly Mass, and began work on their multi-cast production. They built their own props, painted their own scenery, sewed their own costumes.....and it didn't look like a poorman's DIY project. It looked Broadway caliber. Look at the poster to the right. This original painting is now in my collection, I see it daily. It captures the joy and the enthusiasm of the show and the cast. You'll never find any devils or demons on their posters. What you'll find is beauty and magic and love in all the designs. 

IF you were blessed to see the show, you know how tremendous it was. It was sort of a throwback to the old days of magic, but yet it was it's own thing. A unique take on magic that embraced variety, comedy, spectacle, showmanship and more. Imagine a 2 hour magic show with very little talking. Yet, that is exactly what they created. 

I miss that show greatly. But I miss the people more. The photo below is officially ten years old now, because it was the last time I would see the wonderful LGD Show and the last time inside their amazing theatre. I still miss them

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Happy 43rd Anniversary Le Grand David

43 years ago today, the very first Le Grand David Show appeared on the stage at the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre in Beverly. It would go on to be the longest running continuous resident magic show in the history of America. Over on my podcast, I have shared my recollections of the first time (and second time) I saw the show.

Please go check out
And if you're interested, you can do a search here on the blog and find quite a few articles on the show as well. They closed the show in 2012, but will always live in the hearts of those of us who loved that show! Long Live Le Grand David!!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Remembering Marco the Magi

It seems like only yesterday when my friend Cesareo Pelaez left this world. But it's now 6 years ago. He died March 24th, 2012. Cesareo was the creator of the Le Grand David Magic Show in Beverly, MA. In the last 1970s he gathered a group of students and friends to purchase the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre with the idea of putting on a magic show. But not any kind of magic show. He wanted an old world, Vaudeville style magic show, the kind he had seen as a boy growing up in Cuba.

He did it! Feb 20, 1977, the first show was presented at the Cabot. Officially titled, Marco the Magic presents, Le Grand David and his own Spectatular Magic Company! Cesareo was Marco. He invisioned himself as the mentor to the actual star of the show, David Bull, or Le Grand David. I suppose it depends upon who you talk to, some people thought Cesareo was the star, others David, and still others felt there was no clear star, but rather, the SHOW itself was the star, and the players were there to support the group effort.

After 35 years on stage and thousands of performances, the company closed up shortly after Cesareo passed away. They had received every major award possible in magic. They had done what many thought was impossible and they did something that will probably never been seen again.

Now, 6 years later, all the props, costumes, set pieces, curtains, everything has been sold off. The two theatres, the Cabot St. Theatre and he Larcom, have both been sold. To the best of my knowledge, the various cast members are all enjoying retirement, with the exception of Rick Heath, he is far from retired. Rick is still painting, still making magicians look good with his creative prop decor and/or beautiful poster designs.

I think it's safe to say, we all miss you Cesareo! RIP

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Le Grand David Magic Memorabilia

I was going through my storage unit this past weekend looking for items to write about in this blog when I came upon a treasure trove of Le Grand David things. I honestly, don't even recall a lot of it and there is much more than I'm posting here. I found programs, flyers, postcards, saved envelopes, 8x10 photos, magazine articles and more. However, the items I'll share with you today are a little different.

First, we have the TIME Magazine article at the top of the page. This first appeared in TIME Magazine on May 12, 1980. It really shows that their show was something quite different from other magic shows. Full color photos of a MAGIC SHOW graced the paged of TIME Magazine. I can't help but think that was a first! This was the companies first National exposure and I'm not sure they were expecting the deluge that would follow. As soon as the article appeared, they began to get requests from all over, and I mean all over the world, for tickets. They would sell out that theatre on many occasions, even the balcony. In fact, according to the book Carteles de Magia, Cesareo commissioned a sign to be painted that said, SOLD OUT, that they could post in the lobby window. The magic world also sat up and took notice of the show. Even though they had started running 2 full page ads in Genii Magazine, the editor at the time Bill Larsen had yet to see the show. So in the summer of 1980, Bill and his wife Irene attended their first Le Grand David Magic Show. I know this for a fact because I was there. I met them during intermission at the show. It was a huge highlight for me. And then when the show was over, David Bull, who is Le Grand David, signed my copy of Genii Magazine, which I just so happened to carry with me to the show. The magic press would continue to write amazing articles as would magazines and newspapers of all kinds for the remainder of the shows run.

One interesting note, that now makes me a bit sad, is that after the TIME Magazine article came out, a number of Hollywood producers came to see the show. One of them even stayed for three days in the hopes of making a full length documentary on the magic show and it's company. How wonderful this might have been. But Cesareo turned them all down. I read this in Carteles de Magia, which added this quote by Cesareo, "Success and failure are two imposters." I remember him telling me about the Hollywood people and the Broadway visitors who wanted to get their hands on the show. But to quote Carteles de Magia, "Cesareo was highly unlikely to let our work diverge too far from it's original purpose." Still, the TIME article provided benefits right up until the end of the show's life. By the way, if you click the image of the article, a larger version should pop up that you can read.

The next item is a Le Grand David Baseball Hat. This was given to my by Cesareo on one of my visits to Beverly. He and Avrom and Ann picked me up at the airport. We drove back to Beverly and I remember Cesareo was filled with questions for me on that trip. He and all the company were always very generous. I think they tried to give me a stack of posters every time I came up there, and I know I was not the only one who received this treatment. The hat was an unexpected gift, and I only ever wore it on that trip. When I got back, I made sure to put it in storage for safe keeping. There were three different hats offered in one of the LGD Auctions. This red version was there as well as a black and a gray hat.

The very very first time I went to LGD as a kid, I remember that there were samples of the posters available for purchase behind the consession stand. But upon my visits years later, I never really noticed anything 'for sale' beyond the candy and popcorn. I do believe at the Larcom they did have a small display case however. AND Rick Heath did walk around the theatre before the show as Albert Ping Pong selling programs.

Next is a mini poster print. The 'Stage Magic Lives Again' poster. The actual painting for this poster was hung in the theatre for a long time. And I think it was given to Ray Goulet to  display in his Magic Museum. It's a beautiful poster, and it's concept and style comes from a Nicola poster. This was a wonderful way to connect Le Grand David to the magic shows of the past, but they would soon develop their own unique style of poster. It's funny to see this tiny version when the actual poster is enormous.

The poster depicts several scenes from the Cabot show. Upper left is the duck production. Upper right shows David and Marco presenting the Okito Production Screens. In the middle we see the wonderful Pagado that was the grand finale of the show. The lower left shows assistants with giant fans, and then the lower right is David popping out of their beautiful Shadow Box illusion.

I don't know who painted this one however. There is no mention in the Carteles book as to who the artist was.  Cesareo was usually the designer or came up with the concept for the posters and other company members would do the painting. Rick Heath and Bill Balkus both painted and there may have been more. Clearly they were a highly talented and creative company but Cesareo always preferred to leave the early posters unsigned because they were an collaborative ensemble effort.

The final item is a small pin that I picked up on ebay. I think there were two different pins that they produced. It's amazing to me the many ways they used their artwork to promote the shows. I've seen the works used in advertising, posters, flyers, programs, postcards, books, decks of cards, pins and probably ways I never even imagined. This pin shows David presenting the Zombie and Cesareo wearing his costume for the Linking Rings. Rather than holding rings, Cesareo has butterflies around him, which was imagery that they would use many times in their artwork. The pin itself is about 1 inch by 2 inches.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Phoenix Poster- Le Grand David

How fitting that I should return to my blog with The Phoenix! This is a poster I saw at the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre during my very first visit many many years ago. After the show, seeing the show for the first time, I had the opportunity to buy one of these cool posters but didn't.  I regretted my decision. (I did purchase two 'other' posters however, which I still have today)

A few months later I would see the poster on display at the American Museum of Magic. And over the years I would see various versions of the poster, but getting one myself always alluded me.

According to the book, Carteles de Magia, by the Le Grand David Company, the poster was created
in May 1977. It was one of their most popular posters. It was called 'The Bird of Paradise or The Phoenix'. The poster featured the full name of the theatre for the first time, The Cabot St. Cinema Theatre, and also proclaimed the newly added second show on Sundays at 8:15pm. The design was done by Rick Heath, it was marker on mat board. What made the poster so unique is that on some of the posters, members of the company customized them by adding paints, water colors, glitter and even decoupage. The posters were printed on various colored paper and came in two sizes 20.5x28.5 and 10x14.

I have only ever seen the larger ones customized.  The two images above are from the first Kaminski Auction. I have seen various other versions on ebay and elsewhere. Finally, thanks to the kindness and generosity of one of my readers, I can proudly say I have one of the customized Le Grand David Phoenix Posters in my collection. I have never seen a blue version before so this one is very special to me! The poster is also signed by Marco, Seth, Le Grand David and Professor Besco, the four lead performers at that time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Le Grand David: The End of an Era

It's truly over. With the final Le Grand David Auction on Sunday April 10th, and with the Larcom Theatre for sale, the end of the LeGrand David reign as one of the greatest magic shows to ever grace a theatrical stage is done. Actually, it was over when they closed the show a few years ago but now all traces of this incredible journey have vanished.

I have such a mixed bag of emotions about this. Let me state first, I fully support the efforts of the cast to sell off their show, theater and materials. They have every right to do so. It's awfully kind of them to allow some of us in the magic community and theatre community to enjoy these treasures. I'm so very glad my friends from the cast were able to make some money off these wonderful items while they were still alive rather than leave it till after they were all gone. I think Vincent Van Gogh sold only a few paintings when he was alive and for very little money. It wasn't until after he was long gone that the world realized the true value of his art. For the cast of Le Grand David, though they have profited from the sale of their theatre(s) and show, I don't think enough people have yet realized the true value of their art. Perhaps, no price tag can be placed upon such a thing.
There is another side of me that hoped the show would continue on. In some way, even after the first show stopped and the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre was sold, I hoped a new version would take off at the Larcom Theater. I hoped as the older members bowed out that a new generation would come in and take over the show. Perhaps taking it to places that the previous show had never gone. But reality and time got in the way.  The cast began this grand adventure way back in the 1970s and now forty years later,  it was time for them to seek a different path. They more than did their duty for king and country.

So why do I have visions of Cesareo with his arms crossed and a frown upon his face? Would he be upset with the members? If he could relay a message from the great beyond, would he tell them how sad he is that his nearly impossible dream that was brought to life is gone? Here is what I think, I think he would be a little sad, but he would understand. And would encourage his friends to seek out the best of life and live every moment fully aware that together they achieved what no one else could do. They were all true wizards in every sense of the word. I think he would encourage them to move beyond this chapter and find a new adventure, for themselves, whatever it might be.

I do think he is still standing with his arms crossed and a concerned look on his face however. Not because he is unhappy with his friends in Beverly. Because he is unhappy with the world of magic. So many have lost their way and forgotten the beauty and wonder inherent in magic.  His dreams therefor fall upon his disciples to carry on his vision to a new generation of theater goers. We who present stage magic, must pick up this magic torch and carry it forward so that the dream lives on.

And those of us who are collectors, we can remember them through the treasures they have allowed us to obtain through their two auctions!

The poster/painting (above) which was painted by Rick Heath with artistic direction by Cesareo, is now in the Carnegie collection (me). Below, you will see a hand painted Find The Lady stage card trick which is also now part of my collection. And from the previous auction, The Peacock Backdrop, The first Floating Tables, One of Cesareo's costumes, and The Sack Escape.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Larcom Theatre and Le Grand David

As of yesterday, March 31, 2016, The Larcom Theater in Beverly Ma. went up for sale. This was the second theater owned by White Horse Productions, the folks who put on the Le Grand David Magic Shows for 35 years. They owned both the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre and the Larcom.

Both theaters were built by the Ware brothers of Marblehead Mass. The Cabot opened in 1920, the Larcom opened in 1912. For a time the Larcom had both live theatrical events and films. By the 1930s they mainly showed films. But in 1984, the Le Grand David folks purchased the theatre and renovated it under the direction of Cesareo Pelaez, the company leader. In 1985, a second 2 hour production of stage magic debuted at the Larcom. Originally called Le Grand David in Concert, it was different from the Cabot Show. Only a couple of effects were duplicated, but even those, like the Broom Suspension, were presented in a different manner.

The 6,726-square-foot, 560-seat theater, located at 13 Wallis St., is listed at $699,900.

I still recall my first visit to the Larcom. It was during a whirlwind weekend visiting the cast and crew of the two grand theatres. My girlfriend and I were invited guests of Cesareo and we were enjoying meeting everyone. The show at the Larcom took place on a Saturday afternoon. That morning, we had already visited the Cabot Theatre, and watched some rehearsals and even participated in some juggling and dance classes. We were having a great time, but had to get ready to head over to the Larcom for the afternoon show. I assumed the show would be like the Cabot show, but boy was I wrong.

It's true they were both stage magic shows complete with illusions, hand-made costumes, incredible scenery all hand painted by company members, but there was a difference in the who shows. The Larcom show had a different feel to it. It was a tad livelier and brighter. The show at the Cabot had more grandeur and theatricality. Both shows were great, don't get me wrong, but this show at the Larcom had a profound affect on me. Much like the Cabot show from many years before, this show at the Larcom was like a shock to my system, a wake up call, if you will, to the potential of what stage magic could and should be.

While the audience was getting seated for the afternoon show, I was in the gallery of the Larcom, the basement area that they had converted over to a showroom for older illusions and props. I had been down there for some time with Cesareo and Rick Heath. But they had to go to get ready for the show and naturally, I had to get up to the theatre too before the show started!

When the show began, I was struck by the 
brightness and burst of color from the costumes. This show had a different pace from the original show. Perhaps the word festive would be a good description of the show.

Take a look at this one costume worn by Cesareo. Like the original show, there were tons and tons of
costumes and costume changes in the show. But this purple costume with this most unusual hat, is just the coolest thing. I'm not even sure what you would call this style. It screams WIZARD, but good wizard for sure. If my memory is correct, he wore this during the broom suspension routine at the Larcom. A very different presentation to the one featured at the Cabot, still, the same trick however. I honestly, do not remember if he wore this during any of the other routines. I kind of think not, because the members always changed costumes for each new routine.

I'm trying to remember, but I think it was the Larcom show where I saw David, Le Grand David himself present the Harbin Upside Down production box. This was something that David had built himself and to my knowledge is the only one in existence. I think there was an article about the Upside Down production box in one of the company programs at one point. Basically, it was a box with a handle on the top and the bottom had a flap/door that hung open. David would lift it up and reach under and inside the box and remove numerous items. It really was an unusual trick and a stunning piece of magic, and really a piece of magic history having been the creation of the great Robert Harbin.

My favorite routine in the show was The Orange and the Rice by Cesareo. Why? Because of his mechanical monkey! That little guy stole the show. Cesareo had the entire place in stitches with that routine and with that monkey. Last year, I purchased one of those mechanical monkeys for my own show. I named him Marco, after Cesareo's character.

The only real regret I have about that show was that I only saw it a few times. I wish I had seen it many many more times. The show at the Cabot is burned into my memory because I have a video of the entire performance given to me by Cesareo. Oh, to have one of the Larcom as well. Who knows, maybe David Bull will one day dig through the video archives and share this wonderful show with those who loved it and with those who had not ever seen it.

But for those interested in getting a piece of memorabilia from the show they are having an Auction on April 10th of the remainder of the Le Grand David items. This is your last chance to get a piece of history!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The First Time I Met Le Grand David

"The First Time I met Le Grand David..." These are the first words from a lengthy monologue delivered by Webster Bull during the Le Grand David Show at the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre. For some reason those words have been stuck in my head now for several days. I hear them over and over and my mind goes back to the first time I met Le Grand David.

It was many years ago now. In fact, it was in the early days of their show, in the early 1980s. I was just a kid. I had found out about the show through Genii Magazine. The ad above is the one that caught my eye. As it turned out my family was going to take a trip to New England to visit some friends and I mentioned to my Dad this magic show thing. He suggested we ALL attend, so 9 of us showed up at the box office in Beverly. Back then, there wasn't a whole lot to the town. It had seen better days. The theatre seemed to be the only life in the area. No one knew what to expect, even me to be honest.

Walking in the theatre doors, it was if the show had already begun. There were costumed characters in the lobby greeting people. Further down there was a puppet stage set up. There was a feeling of excitement even before the show began. I just soaked it all in.

When the show began, I was overwhelmed with the spectacle. There were elaborate costumes, beautifully painted props, and what seemed like tons of people on stage. Also, there were curtains and gorgeous backdrops. This was not like any magic show I had ever seen, though I had not really seen that many magic shows live. I had not even seen Doug Henning perform LIVE yet, that would still be a year or so away.

If you read the title at the lower left hand side of the ad above it reads "Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company". I assumed, the show was this guy Le Grand David. I had missed the part on the right hand side page that reads "Marco The Magi's production of..." So when I began watching the show, I immediately recognized Le Grand David, but the person who stood out was Marco the Magi. I remember the drive back to the house after the show, most of the talk was about this guy Marco. Why? His character was a wild man on stage. He was funny and extremely energetic. I remember his very theatrical Linking Ring routine. I remember that he performed what would become one of his signature pieces, The Floating Table by making the table float, and then he walked into the audience with the table floating against his fingers. And I believe Seth, the youngest member of the cast, also did the table floating along with him.

I don't remember every bit of the show, but I remember a lot. I recall being blow away by David's skill with the billiard balls. This was a trick that I was just learning at the time and I was dumbfounded at how well he handled the mystery. I think more than anything it was the smaller stuff that really fooled me. The stage illusions were great, but I was fairly knowledgeable about the inner workings of those things. I say that, but in truth, I really didn't know as much as I thought. Naturally, today, having performed many of those same illusions, I do know how they work, but back then, I'm not so sure how many I truly knew.

I can tell you this, when the show was over my head was buzzing. OH, but wait, I forgot to mention the intermission. So this show had an intermission, and everyone got up to get a refreshment or stretch their legs or use the rest room. Well, I got up and was standing in the back of the theatre by myself. I happened to look over and I see someone that I recognized, but had never met, Irene Larsen. I instantly wondered if Bill Larsen was there, they were married after-all, and sure enough he was. So I got to meet Bill and Irene for the first time! I had been writing letters to Bill for a while because he was editor of Genii and frankly, I didn't know many magicians, so I often would contact people via snail mail. I EVEN had a copy of Genii with me, and you know what, it didn't even occur to me to have them sign it! I had David Bull sign it, but I didn't even think to have the editor of the magazine sign it! Oh the brain of a child, lol.

Around my birthday in August of that year, the new Genii came out and lo and behold who was on
the cover but Le Grand David! It took Bill two issues to fully cover his experience at the show. In fact, he wrote "Seeing Marco the Magi's production of Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company was the most exciting magical evening I have had since I first saw the Dante Show."

I never forgot that first visit to Beverly. Years later, I would send a letter to Cesareo telling him about my first visit there and he replied by inviting me and a guest up for the weekend to enjoy the show all over again. Enjoy it I did. In truth, the second visit to Le Grand David changed my life. I have never been the same since. It was an extremely positive experience and becoming friends with the company has been a bonus. I'm certainly not a close to them as some folks in the magic world, but I have always felt a bond, thanks to Cesareo and David and Rick Heath and Avrom and Ann and other members of the Le Grand David Family.

Oh, incidentally, that magic show also changed the life of that town. When I returned to Beverly years later, the downtown area was a thriving place with shops and stores and many restaurants. The show and theatre  breathed life back into that area, and that magic show is what breathed life into many of us fellow magi.

On April 10th, Kaminski Auctions in Beverly is holding the second Le Grand David auction. If you're a fan of the show you have a chance to pick up something to remember the show by. There is not as much in this second auction, but there are certainly some very nice pieces.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Magical Day of Rememberance

Today marks the 142 Anniversary of the birth of Harry Houdini. It also marks a more solemn event, the 4th Anniversary of the passing of my friend Cesareo Pelaez from the Le Grand David Magic Show in Beverly MA. Interestingly enough, as I type this there is a special 'Birthday Auction' going on over at Harversat & Ewing Auctions. The auction runs till later today March 24th. And on April 10th, there is the Le Grand David Auction II happening online and in Beverly through

A couple of days ago, I recorded a brief spot, along with David Bull and Rick Heath about the LGD Auction. You can hear the interview online on SoundCloud. The interviews were conducted by Michael Stroud on his Majinga Over The Edge Broadcast

Please check out the interview. If you're like me, it never gets old hearing David and Rick talk about their days with Le Grand David. If you listen closely you'll hear some of the audio from one of the performances at the Cabot St. show in the background.

And don't forget the Potter & Potter Auction of Houdini and Davenport items on April 9th.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Le Grand David Auction, Round 2

I just received word from Rick Heath that the folks at Le Grand David along with the Kaminski Auctions will be holding a second auction of rare and collectible items from the longest running magic show in history.

If you followed the previous auction you might be wondering, 'what's left?'. Well, for the keen observer, there were a number of things that did not sell. And there were a number of things that were not part of the previous auction. I also imagine, there were items that were discovered since that last auction took place. So you'll have another chance to pick up something if you are a LGD collector.

The auction is April 10th starting at 10am. You can bid in person or online. There will be several days of previews where you can go and actually view the items. You can read a bit about the previous auction here:

There will be a catalog of the items online soon. They are currently photographing everything. As soon as that become available, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Different Le Grand David Poster

I just stumbled upon this new poster from the Le Grand David Magic Show online. Actually, it's not NEW as in it just came out. It's new as in, I've not seen it before. I'm pretty familiar with all the artwork done by the company. Most, including this one, were painted by Rick Heath.

The one thing that comes to mind when I see this painting, what a loss the magic world has felt since Le Grand David has closed it's doors. One of the grandest shows to ever grace the stage.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Remembering Cesareo

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the passing of Cesareo Pelaez, my friend and the leader of The LeGrand David Spectacular Magic Show on Beverly MA.. I was just about to put in the video of their  show that Cesareo gave me years ago, and that's when I remembered what day this was. Sure miss him and all my Beverly/LGD friends.

Update: I suppose that the above was hardly enough of a remembrance. It was more of a mention. Cesareo seems to creep up in conversations several times a week. I stay in touch with one of the members of the company so I often hear things about him that I didn't know. I suppose I'm reminded of Cesareo every day really because one of his costumes hangs in my office as well as a painting I did of him. On Sunday, I had the good fortune to show my friend Bobby a video of Cesareo performing the Floating Table, which was one of Cesareo's signature routines. I tried to win that table during the auction and sadly my final bid did not go through, and I lost it to someone else. That's not important though. What is important is the positive impact Cesareo had on my life and many others through his magic and teachings. He was a remarkable person.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The American Museum of Magic

I still recall my first visit to the American Museum of Magic. It was many years ago now, and Bob and Elaine Lund were the owners, tour guides and gracious hosts on the day I visited with my family. This visit was the first time I had seen any sort of historical magic props or posters. It was an eye opening experience and really made an impression on me.

Bob Lund was an avid collector and he had everything from posters, books, playbills, letters to Houdini's Milk Can. Bob was not really a fan of Houdini, but he recognized Houdini's drawing power and so the Houdini items stayed near the front of the museum.

Another interesting item that I saw was a poster from the Le Grand David Show. I instantly
recognized it because we had visited Beverly MA for the first time a few months earlier and I had gotten to see the show. This was long before I became friends with the folks at the Le Grand David show. Bob and Cesareo became good friends and eventually Cesareo sent the museum a huge bronze cast sculpture of the show that was created by David Bull's father. There were three of those sculptures, one resides with Ray Goulet, one at the American Museum of Magic, and the third, I think is still waiting for a buyer. The third one was on display at the theatre in Beverly until the show was auctioned off.

Below are several videos of the museum. The first features an interview with Bob Lund. You'll want to forward the video to around 3 minutes 49 seconds, as that is where the magic interview takes place. During the interview you'll get to see Houdini's Milk Can and Bob talking about the Houdini routine.

On the second video, you'll see a shot of one of the large Houdini 'Do Spirits Return' poster. In the last video you'll see some shots of the collection of magic figurines. This collection of figurines inspired me to start collecting magic related figurines. 

I hope you enjoyed a little peak into the American Museum of Magic. It is still in operation today, and this year the Midwest Magic History Weekend will take place in Marshall Michigan, the home town of the museum. So if you'd like to check it out for yourself, you can visit the following website and look into attending the conference.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Old Magic Theatre Has Sold

Well it's official, the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre, which was once home (for 37 years) to the incredible Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company has sold. When it was first announced that the theatre was for sale, I must admit I feared for the worst. I was scared that a developer would come in and tear down the old theatre and put up condos. Just one town over, in Salem, there was once a theatre. In fact there is a fairly well known photo of Houdini's props sitting out in front of the Theatre making an incredible display. That theatre was torn down ages ago.

I recently learned that there had been some 20,000 live event theatres back in the heyday of Vaudeville and now about 250 remain. Thankfully, the Cabot will be one of those that stays. Apparently, it was sold to a group of townspeople who plan to turn it into the Cabot Performing Arts Center. BRAVO!!! And they've announced a bit of renovation as well. First up will be installing new seats. Having sat in those Cabot seats many times, I can say, yep, that is needed! I'm not sure what else they plan to do, but I for one am happy the old theatre is staying a theatre!

It reopens Nov 14th, once again showing movies. Soon they'll also be doing live events. Probably no magic shows on the horizon, but with the popularity of the new touring shows, The Illusionists, Masters of Illusion, and others, who knows?!

I will make one suggestion though, if anyone of the new owners cares. You should acquire one of the LGD Original Paintings and permanently mount it in the Lobby. Had it not been for Cesareo and the many many many cast members, and family members who worked on the LGD show, that theatre probably would not be standing today.

By the way, an interesting side note, the Theatre officially sold on Oct 16th, Cesareo's birthday.

The new theatre comes with a new website

Thursday, September 18, 2014

LeGrand David Bronze on Ebay

Just a few months ago the historic auction of Le Grand David Magic items was held at their theatre in Beverly Mass. Among the items for sale was the Broom Suspension Bronze created in 1984 by David F. Bull, father of David Bull who portrayed the character Le Grand David in the show. The bronze depicts an actual scene from the show of Marco the Magi levitating David on a broom surrounded by other cast members.

This bronze sold at auction for $8,000.00. Well now the bronze is back on the auction block and the price has gone up, a lot. The asking price is $75,000.00 or best offer. I can tell you in my opinion the $8,000 was pretty low so the person who purchased it got a bargain. As for the $75,000 price, that is up to the person who wants it. This piece is much more than a magic collectable, this is real art and real art carries these type of prices.

There are actually three of these, but only one is being offered for sale. Of the two remaining, one is in the Ray Goulet Magic Museum and the other is in the American Museum of Magic in Marshall Michigan. 

The link to the ebay auction is here

Monday, March 24, 2014

Remembering Cesareo

It was two years ago today (March 24) that Cesareo Pelaez passed away. He was 79 and had been suffering from congestive heart failure as well as the after effects of a stroke. Two years ago, I wrote the obit for Cesareo in Genii Magazine. I'm reprinting that piece below.

Cesareo Pelaez
Cesareo Pelaez passed away at 3 a.m. on March 24th, 2012. He was a real wizard for his magic transcended tricks. He dared to dream things that few others even had the courage to imagine, and his dreams became reality.

He was born October 16th, 1932 in Santa Clara, Cuba. As a boy his father took him to see many of the traveling theatrical shows that would visit the island. Among the magicians young Cesareo saw were David Bamberg/Fu Manchu, Richardi Sr. and Jr., and others. These grand productions had a profound effect on Cesareo and they would later become the inspiration for his ultimate theatrical dream, a resident magic company.

In the 1960s, after having studied education and psychology in Cuba, he fled his homeland as Castro’s grip took hold. He escaped disguised as a Priest and would up in Columbia first before coming to the United States. He would eventually become a professor of psychology at Salem State College after having studied with Abraham Maslow.

But for the magic world things really began in the 1970s as Cesareo started to gather the people who would eventually become the founding members of a resident theatrical magic company. Together, they purchased the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre in Beverly Mass, and worked night and day to get it ready for their new production.

On February 20th, 1977, the first performance of Le Grand David and his Own Spectacular Magic Company hit the stage. A 2 hour show of stage magic presented in a manner that hadn’t been seen since the early part of the 20th Century. Lavish costumes, intricately decorated props, beautiful scenery and a cast of thirty people would become the hallmark of their unique brand of magic. The costumes, scenery and most of the props were built, sewn and created by the members of the company under Cesareo’s direction.

Cesareo’s role in the adventure was as leader and director. He chose the character name Marco the Magi, but allowed his young apprentice, David Bull, to get the larger billing.
The show grew in size and scope. At one time they had as many as 60 members in their company.

The magic world took notice of what was going on in this small town and began writing articles about Cesareo and the company. Even TIME Magazine wrote a two-page article about them. By 1984, the Cabot St. Theatre was in full bloom showing movies Monday through Saturday and presenting the Le Grand David Show on Sundays. Now it was time for Cesareo to approach the members of his company with another idea, purchasing a second theatre. The Larcom Theatre was a few blocks away and was originally built by the same people who build the Cabot.

This time professionals largely did the restoration of this theatre, though the decorative work was done in-house. On June 4, 1985 “Le Grand David In Concert” opened at the Larcom. This show had a charm and elegance all it’s own and an achievement that made this group seem unstoppable.

Cesareo kept his full time position as Psychology Professor at Salem State College during this entire time. He had guided the restoration of two theatres, directed two different theatrical magic shows, helped design countless posters and artwork to promote the shows, and was involved in an untold amount of details that many of us will never know. If that wasn’t enough, in 1985, Cesareo was elected President of The Society of American Magicians. Any one of these achievements would be enough for a single individual, but Cesareo’s motivation was different. To him, it was about realizing one’s full potential and about helping others discover abilities they never knew they had. In this way, his efforts were more a labor of love for life and his fellow man, than they were for show business.

In 2005, Cesareo suffered a stroke. He had also been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He did return to the stage briefly, but the illnesses eventually forced him to be a spectator to the shows he helped create. Though he was unable to perform, he never stopped guiding, directing and inspiring his friends and fellow cast members.

Cesareo Pelaez approached all aspects of life with passion, enthusiasm and dedication. He was the consummate teacher demonstrating by the way he lived what heights we could reach if we tried. His life was a testament to the idea that nothing is impossible.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Magic Detective & Mandala Magazine and More

I just found out yesterday that back in 2012, Mandala Magic Magazine had an article about HOUDINI and in the article they spent a little time talking about THIS blog. They also discussed John Cox's Blog and Kevin Connolly's blog as well. It was a pleasant surprise and the article itself was posted to another website by the original author of the piece, so you can read it here.

Also, coincidentally, yesterday was my first introduction to the Mandala Magazine itself, even before I found out about the earlier article. I found out they had done an rather extensive interview with David Bull of Le Grand David and also interviewed Rick Heath and Ellen Sheehan from the show as well. It is a FANTASTIC article which shares some insights on the last few years of the show, the death of Cesareo and how it affected the cast and the reasons why the show closed and what is going on currently and what the future holds.

The issue can be found in the 'past issues Volume 4'.  If you are interested in checking it out click the link, the issue costs $5.95 and is digital, so they will send you a link to download it.

The Mandala Magazine is a product of and owned by Shawn McMaster.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Behind the Scenes Video of Le Grand David Magic Show

I just found this online. It's a video of behind the scenes footage of the LeGrand David Magic Show in Beverly. Now that the show is finished, sold off and will no longer be seen, this gives a nice view of some of the spectacle that once graced the stage at the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Okito - Le Grand David Magic Illusion Is Available!

Yes, the Le Grand David Auction has passed. But one item in particular did not sell, the closing illusion to their Cabot St. Theatre Show. In the show it was an unusual pagoda. In reality it was a combination of two Okito/Theo Bamberg Illusions. One was called 'Hi Strung' and the other 'The Mandarin's Dream'.  In fact, in the auction listing they describe it just like that, a combination of two Okito Illusions.

I have to admit, as much as I love the show, this was never a favorite of mine. But now upon reflection, I think perhaps I may have been mistaken. There is quite a bit of magic here and as far as engineering it's pretty remarkable.

It is kind of a combination of the two Okito effects. The routine called Hi-Strung, has a pagoda like structure and the doors are opened front and back to show it empty. It's closed up and a long rope is threaded through the box. Suddenly the 'Lotus Flower' or female assistant steps forth from the pagoda with the rope passing through her costume!

But 'The Mandarin's Dream' which is the part of the routine where the large box-like trunks are introduced, is slightly different in the original effect.

In the Mandarin's Dream, according to Okito, it is a transposition of the boxes with a living person. And in fact, it is a very elaborate playlet with several characters, multiple boxes or tea chests as they are called in the routine, and a pagoda and another raised platform with a canopy that is flown in to cover the boxes. 

The method for created the Mandarin's Dream is very involved. It's quite a remarkable concept and I'm not sure if the original Okito props from this illusion remain today.

Okito mentions in his book Okito On Magic, that this was the most sensational illusion he ever performed but due to weight and size it was impossible to travel with. I wonder if the effect was eventually given to his son, or if it remained behind in Europe?

The good news is a version of these two effects does still exist today.  The Le Grand David troupe referred to this as 'The Legend of the Miraculous Pagoda', and as I stated earlier, this was the closing illusion in their show at the Cabot St. Theatre. It began for years with Webster Bull acting as narrator and describing the history of this magical pagoda. When his monologue was over, the company sprang into action and began by rolling out the pagoda, showing it empty and also bringing out the large chests which were full of jewels, fabrics and gold! The chests were lifted and stacked inside the pagoda and then the doors closed. A rope was threaded through the pagoda and then the entire thing was spun around (not a simple task because this prop is a monster!).

When the doors are eventually opened, the chests are gone! In it's place is a masked figured whose costume is threaded with the rope. The costume figure steps out of the pagoda and lo and behold it is none other than Marco the Magi! This leads to the final bows by each member of the company and a few surprise effects along the way.

I stated above it was not my favorite illusion. I think part of the reason was it was very slow. I did enjoy Webster's story however, I thought that part of it was fantastic. And there is a moment of great surprise in the routine near the end when the doors are open and the chests are seen, the doors are closed and then opened and the chests are gone and Marco the Magi is there.  I'm sure the slowness is probably unavoidable, but perhaps other things could have been done to mask the time. At any rate, it was their closing illusion for years and in all honesty, it's pretty amazing. I just watched it again last night on video and was taken back by the vanish of the boxes and appearance of the person. Perhaps, my previous opinion was just a bit jaded.

There is good news too. This wonderful effect is available! It was in the recent Kaminski Auction of the Le Grand David show. It did not sell. It had a very high reserve which was part of the problem. But it is still available and I'm sure they are wanting to find a new home for it. It was lot # 9040 and if you contact the folks at Kaminski Auctions ask them about it and see if perhaps you can make a bid on it. Keep in mind, this thing is gigantic! I don't think it packs flat, but it might break down a little for shipping, I don't know. You'll have to ask them. Keep in mind unless you pick it up, the shipping is going to be a lot. But, this will certainly be the ultimate in Okito inspired collectibles and the crowning jewel of the Le Grand David Show. Contact them and see!