The year I graduated and left Hot Springs, Arkansas, a magic show opened up downtown. I paid no mind to it when I came back to visit friends and family.

Now I’m wishing I had.

Twenty-two years later (man, I’m old), The Magic of Maxwell Blade is still serving up magic, but now it’s in a bigger and better venue: the historic Malco Theater. I’m pleased as punch that Maxwell Blade purchased and renovated this theater (to the tune of $1 million) because it’s a gorgeous gem of days gone by when movie theaters were a place you dressed up to go to. It was first built in 1946 and was designed for vaudeville shows and silent films. Growing up, it was home to the International Film Festival. Now it has new life breathed into it as the setting for Blade’s thrilling magic show.

But First, Let’s Get Up Close and Personal

Jonathan Erlandson

My son, Max, and I were given comped tickets to the show in exchange for a review, and our tickets included the Close-Up Magic Show beforehand with Jonathan Erlandson. We were just feet away from him as he unbelievably put a phone into a balloon and swallowed then threaded needles in his mouth then spit them out.

Onto the Odditorium

odditorium

After leaving the performance, we perused the Odditorium, which has a collection of over 300 weird-ass things from all over the world. If you’ve been to Ripley’s Believe it or Not, you get the idea. Shrunken heads, creepy dolls…definitely not my style of decor!

We had a while before the show started, so we went across the street to our favorite candy store in Hot Springs: Rocket Fizz. They’ve got every type of candy you remember growing up with…and then some.

rocket fizz hot springs

And Now… Showtime!

maxwell blade

Back to the theater. The show manager gave us front and center seats, so we had an unbelievable view of the stage.

Maxwell Blade is more than a magician, though he’s a damn good one of those. He knows how to work an audience, and even plays piano to boot! His performance was the perfect balance of comedy, excitement, and mystery. There were card tricks, to be sure, but the one that had me puzzled was when he played a shell game with bottles of liquor. First, he’d move one bottle between four cups that covered the bottle…but then that one disappeared…and multiplied! By the end of that trick, there were about 15 bottles of liquor on the table and I have¬†no idea how he did it!

maxwell blade shell game

Maxwell Blade gave a fantastic performance. I only wish I’d seen what his show was like in the previous theater so I could be impressed at how much better this one was, but I imagine having more space to play has upped his game.