Throughout Thanksgiving week, from November 27th through December 1st at the historic Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA, veteran magician Tom Frank has continued to splendidly entertain the Academy of Magical Arts’ members and guests at the Library Bar downstairs (between 7:30 and 11:30 pm).
It’s not the first time — and it absolutely won’t be the last — that the charismatic Frank will regale audiences at the Magic Castle. In fact, it’s now been 34 years in which the Cincinnati, OH native has been doing gigs at the living landmark renowned for its world-class wizardry.
On a weekly basis, the Academy of Magical Arts changes its bill of performers, who ply their wares – acquired after years of monastic discipline – in interspersed rooms like the intimate Close-Up Gallery, the Palace of Mystery, the Parlour of Prestidigitation, the Peller Theatre, and the aforementioned Library Bar. But, beyond the evolution of magic tricks, Frank has remained a comforting constant among it all.
There’s something to be said for someone who has not only earned a longstanding reputation but has also adapted himself to changing circumstances and the discriminating tastes of magic patrons emanating from all walks of life and all parts of the world. It’s impossible to wow everyone equally, but Frank, who has a commanding but kindred presence about him, certainly tries and oftentimes heroically succeeds.
Frank’s Thanksgiving-week engagement has culminated a preceding short-term run in which he served as a bartending magician in the Hat & Hare Pub. Performing in different venues (and locales) comes as part of the territory, highlighting Frank’s versatility, but what is also notable is the memorable manner in which he presents himself. Always dressed to the nines, one can expect Frank to be usually wearing a suit with extra pizazz, like a black ensemble with gold pinstripes and a sparkling gold belt buckle.
In addition, he brims with infectious energy as he tells engaging stories and delivers one-liners that never fail to earn a great reaction. His approach is genuine, and it comes across that way, providing an experience that is not unlike hanging out with an old friend – except this particular friend is an elite magician.
And more than just being a gentleman who is proficient in the art of storytelling via subterfuge, Frank is separated by his contemporaries for being a thinking man’s magician. One of his must-see specialties is performing a dazzling routine of the classic linking rings in perfect synchronicity with a lyrical excerpt in the style of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” The poetry of Frank’s words seamlessly complements a poetry of motion with the mystical rings as he intersects and disconnects them in a hypnotizing fashion.
The dexterity that Frank is able to exhibit with his hands is also emphasized in his ability to juggle five silver dollars across his knuckles before he balances each coin on his outstretched fingertips. With this simple demonstration – which is infinitely more difficult compared to how facile it looks – it’s apparent that Frank has the talent to seemingly manipulate the physics around him. This digital adroitness also manifests in the form of an overall sleight of hand, ranging from the kind that is dramatic to the type that is humorous, as in when he conjures an endless collection of bananas from a single one.
To be entertained is one thing, which Frank does in spades, but he also seeks to edify by approaching magic with a sense of intellectualism. For instance, he might utter gems like, “No matter how close you’re watching, you can still be fooled because your eyes may deceive you.” Then, he might be prompted to ask onlookers to focus on another sense instead, such as their ears, as they’re happily fooled yet again upon aurally experiencing the vanishing of clinking silver dollars inside a silk scarf.
Finally, like any established illusionist, Frank is well-versed in the legerdemain of card riffling and tricks, his most jaw-dropping routine being when he takes a deck of blank cards, bare on both the front and back sides, and immaculately inks them with a flick of the wrist as if they had just come out of the factory where they’re printed. Frank, too, indeed knows a little thing or two about where playing cards are manufactured. Having once been printed in his hometown of Cincinnati, they continue to be packaged and exported internationally a stone’s throw away from Erlanger, Kentucky, feeding the creativity of each magician — both novices and experts alike.
Frank, however, is more than just an expert; he is a master of his craft who is ceaselessly passionate about what he does, making new fans of magic every day and inspiring a whole new generation with his amiably jazzy demeanor. He doesn’t insult the intelligence of his guests at the Magic Castle or elsewhere, either, given that he willingly, as he puts it, “invites inspection.” As most will discover, he “defies explanation,” but that’s the hallmark of a marvelous magician.
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