Larry Wilson doesn't take magic seriously. But that’s no surprise to anyone who's seen him starring in his psychedelic extravaganza, “Wonderland,” at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino in Reno. The debate over whether he is a comedian or magician leaves him unconcerned. Audiences are laughing so hard they don't even seem to realize that the astounding and freaky visuals taking place all around them are actually magic. “I don’t want to fool you,” Wilson candidly admits, “I just want to blow your mind a little.” His latest creation, “Wonderland,” does that in full measure. His high-energy performance combined with his gift for lightning-fast ad-libs makes it difficult to tell what’s really planned and what’s simply a spontaneous happening. And that’s what “Wonderland” is all about. As Larry explains, “It’s not a place; it’s a state of mind.”
How did this self-professed refugee from the Summer of Love wind up producing his own theatrical spectacles? Larry is the first to admit it’s been an unusual career. He began his performing career at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, a private club for magicians. He was somewhat apprehensive about presenting his mix of comedy and magic because of the Castle's reputation as a reserved and dignified forum for magicians. Fortunately, his satirical advertising pitch for the "Famous Magicians School" was an immediate success and even the most diehard magicians were delighted with his spoofing of the art.
In no time at all Larry found himself in places like Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe performing with the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr., Ann-Margret, and The Pointer Sisters. This, in turn, led to a long string of television appearances with his zany assistants, the Flying Cavettis, and it was an appearance with this stage troupe which garnered Larry his first Emmy nomination as a performer.
Larry is also quite in demand as a technical consultant for magic and special effects in movies and T.V. He’s taught sleight of hand to a host of famous actors including Brooke Shields, Patrick Dempsey, Timothy Hutton and Nick Nolte. He was hand-picked to create the now famous comedy-magic sequence that Leslie Nielsen performed in the classic comedy hit "Airplane!" Larry has displayed his sleight of hand skills on “Hard Copy,” as a crooked casino dealer on ABC’s “Line of Fire” and on the A&E special, “Stealth Technology,” where he demonstrated how the military uses many principles of illusion in modern warfare.
“Eventually I realized that if I broke away from the preconceived ideas of magic and did something that was true to what I am, the result would have to be something unique,” Larry says. “So I took a long look at myself and realized that the things I have such great fondness for all came from the 60’s—the music, the clothes, the lifestyle. All at once, it seemed so clear, the perfect theatrical framework to combine these fantastic cultural influences was just ready and waiting for me—“Alice in Wonderland.” It’s the trippiest, most surreal, otherworldly tale. And everybody knows all about it. Or, at least, they think they do.” That was the jumping off point for “Wonderland.” His long history with Harrah’s casinos made it a natural choice to launch this ambitious project and the response has been phenomenal right from the opening night performance.
Larry is very pleased about the public's reaction to his peculiar mix of magic, comedy and theatricality. "Today audiences crave a more intense theatrical experience. When they go out to see a show, they want to be immersed in something, they want to feel something.” That’s why “Wonderland” cuts across such a broad spectrum in its appeal. “Magic isn’t about the tricks; it’s supposed to be about going on a little trip to an alternative reality.” Does that make Larry Wilson the next Houdini? "Oh, no," he's quick to say. "That stuff with the handcuffs I leave to the pros... like Lindsay Lohan."
2006: 65 gigs
2007: 90 gigs
2008: 77 gigs
2009: 103 gigs
2010: 112 gigs
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