SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 12, 2012

Magic runs out on Beverly show

BY PAUL LEIGHTON/¬ĀSTAFF WRITER
The Salem News

---- — BEVERLY — The world’s longest-running stage magic show is disappearing, at least for the foreseeable future.

Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company, which has performed for the last 36 years at the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre in downtown Beverly, will not return for the 2012-2013 season, said David Bull, who plays Le Grand David.

“At some point, perhaps we’ll do something with the Le Grand David name, a new production, but in the near term there are some bigger, fundamental issues we are grappling with,” Bull said.

The future of the magic show has been in doubt since the death of its founder, Cesareo Pelaez, in March.

The show usually resumes in the fall after a summer break, but Bull said he told members of the theater company on Saturday that he did not have the time or energy to devote to a full season of performances this year.

Many of the performers, including Bull, have been with the show since its inception and are now in their 60s or older.

“Many people in the company felt that as long as Cesareo was alive, it was important for him for the show to continue,” Bull said. “Now that motivational element is not there.”

The magic show started on Feb. 20, 1977, and developed an international reputation for its quality and longevity. The troupe performed at the White House seven times, and Pelaez was named Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magic Arts in Hollywood.

Pelaez suffered a stroke in 2005 and stopped performing his role of Marco the Magi in 2006. The show continued, with Pelaez appearing on stage in his wheelchair at the end of each performance. He made his last appearance Feb. 18 for the company’s 35th anniversary show.

Bull said he needs to concentrate on upgrading the Cabot Street Cinema and the Larcom Theatre, the two former vaudeville theaters owned by White Horse Productions, the company that stages the magic show. Bull is president of White Horse Productions.

Cabot Street Cinema, which will continue to operate as a movie theater, is still showing movies on 35 mm film and must be upgraded to handle digital projection, Bull said.

The second story of the front of the building is scheduled to be renovated with new windows and brickwork.

Bull said he has begun marketing both theaters as venues for weddings, anniversaries, business meetings and other events. A big band-style orchestra is considering playing a concert at Cabot Street Cinema in December, he said.

Bull said the magic show could return in some form, perhaps as a combination of Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company and “An Anthology of Stage Magic,” a show that ran at the Larcom Theatre.

“We’re certainly not saying never, but we just felt it was important to concentrate on this basic stuff for now,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of time and energy to do these projects, and I just didn’t feel I have the time or the energy to put into mounting a new production at this time.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.