If parents ever wanted to learn how to make their children disappear they needed to see Jay Owenhouse Friday night at the Orpheum Theatre.
The Montana-based magician made two daughters vanish (and reappear), not unlike one of two Bengal tigers he totes around as part of his show.
He poured a handful of different drinks from one carton, turned a dollar into $100 and sawed a woman in half.
Those, though, were just the filler tricks. The big stuff involved machinery and, as a finale, a motorcycle that disappeared in thin air, then reappeared at the back of the theater.
Many of Owenhouse’s tricks were similar to David Copperfield’s fare, including a sealed box with a note inside. Like Copperfield, he tossed balls into the audience, then used random info from the folks who wound up with them. Sure enough, the note inside the box had all the details those audience members provided.
Paying tribute to his idol Harry Houdini, Owenhouse was strapped in a straitjacket, hung upside down and given a couple of minutes to get out before a burning rope released a “Game of Thrones”-like trap that was expected to hit “most major organs.” Sure enough, a clock ticked down while Owenhouse worked his way out. The routine had the necessary fear factor but the purveyor wasn’t interested in scaring his audience. He even told those who might be skittish to step out while it played out.
Low-key, frequently funny and unflappable, Owenhouse talked about the two tigers (one white, one not) who have become part of his family. The white one, Shekinah, was as docile as a housecat and loved to cuddle her master. The orange one, Sheena, was a little more aggressive but went through the paces and prompted Owenhouse to show a video about both of them as cubs at their home and sanctuary in Montana. He said Bengal tigers are disappearing at a rapid rate. He also said they love being part of the show. Neither was overworked or bothered by the presence of an audience.
Owenhouse’s four children played various roles in the show (the two daughters got traditional “assistant” jobs) and figured into many of his stories. The veteran magician talked about his faith, too, and told people in the audience if they were struggling with something in their lives, he and his family would like to meet them and pray for them.
He continued that theme with a group of blocks that seemed to expand but still fit inside a frame. The story was effective, even though the illusion didn’t have the pizzazz of a motorcycle rolling down the theater’s middle aisle.
Even when Owenhouse’s show had curtain and lighting problems, he managed to keep the 90-minute production rolling.
A family affair? There was something for everyone, even the kids.