A Night With The Benevolent Trickster

Theater

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY JUL 15, 2016

Florida Studio Theatre’s Summer Cabaret series continues with The Card Shark, an off-the-wall presentation from sleight-of-hand artist Jason Michaels about the world of con artists and magicians where anything is possible. Through a series of sleight-of-hand performances, stories and audience-interactive demonstrations, Michaels entertains and explains the method behind the magic of this “world of deception” in all its trickery.

A semi-autobiographical show, the audience learns and laughs along with Michaels as he recounts lessons learned living amongst hucksters and tricksters for 25 years. Magicians, psychics, card sharks—colorful characters abound. Hear Michaels tell the tale of being taken in by a fortune teller’s shtick, scoff at his naiveté—then see just how convincing it can be as he pulls someone onstage for their own cold reading. “In addition to entertaining, I’m teaching them not to be deceived,” says Michaels. “My hope is that when you walk out, you’re a little more savvy.”

With extensive audience interaction throughout, those who so desire enjoy a fair chance of taking Michaels on himself. “That’s what makes it so much fun,” he says. He knows the volunteer is scrutinizing his every move—seeking that tell or twitch or subtle sign that the wool is slowly descending—but they won’t find it. “They can say, ‘I was the one reaching out and touching everything,’” says Michaels, “and still this incredible stuff happened.”

Therein lies the final aspect of Michaels show—to bestow upon the audience the belief that more is possible than previously known. When Michaels began, he didn’t even believe he could learn sleight of hand. It’s not magic, but that also means it’s not impossible and self-imposed limitations are exactly that. “It opens us up—it opens our minds,” says Michaels. “You too can do the impossible.”

Opening Jul. 19 in FST’s Court Cabaret, The Card Shark runs through Aug. 21. Single tickets range from $32–$36.

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