Copperfield Brings “Very Urban” Show to Branson

 

If there is anyone in our business (or show biz generally) with better press skills, we haven’t heard of him or her. We guess that is a truism. If we haven’t heard of them, chances are they don’t have very good press skills. Okay, another wasted lead paragraph.

Whilst our press skills may lack in the “writing catchy lead” department, David Copperfield’s ability to “offer a front-page news item” excels. In fact, a recent study by the Pugh Charitable Trust notes Mr. Copperfield’s ability to “capture headlines is directly and inversely proportional to Inside Magic’s ability to write said headlines.”

We don’t believe this study was a sensible expenditure of money by this great public foundation, we are in agreement. Mr. Copperfield has, as we say in competitive origami, “skills.”

Several months ago, we were among the first to carry news of Mr. Copperfield’s plans to truck his incredible show to Branson for two weeks at Andy Williams Moon River Theater. We wondered aloud – and wrote it on the webpage at the same time – how he would be received.

You know he is an undisputed heavy-weight champ in the world of magic, but Branson already has so many excellent resident magicians with well-established shows in fine theaters. Would they welcome the peripatetic performer who starred as “Ken, The Magician” in the 1980 French Canadian classic film Le Monstre du train (“Terror Train”)?

Inside Magic’s friend Darren Romeo said it would be great to have Mr. Copperfield come to the once-quiet, Ozark destination. Mr. Copperfield’s arrival would provide additional legitimacy to the already extensive entertainment offerings.

Mr. Copperfield told the local paper “if he does his job well, people won’t walk away from his shows saying ‘Well, that was a good trick.'”

Mr. Copperfield garnered incredible press in advance of his run beginning today including a story in today’s News-Leader with a great lead paragraph:

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His likeness is in London’s Madame Tussaud’s. He was knighted by the French government.

He’s vanished an airplane, levitated across the Grand Canyon and escaped from Alcatraz.

And for two weeks, he’ll be in your back yard. Live.

Beginning today, master illusionist David Copperfield performs for two weeks at Branson’s Andy Williams Moon River Theatre.

Not too shabby.

Mr. Copperfield’s interview with an enthusiastic reporter is on the front page of the News-Leader’s Entertainment section this morning. The reporter talked with Mr. Copperfield by cell phone on his return from a “three-day press junket in Berlin.”

We’ve become mini-experts in the Copperfield press interview. We enjoy reading how Mr. Copperfield tailors the interview to the town and builds excitement for the show. This one is different. You can read the full interview yourself — after all, this is a free country and we’re not going to stop you — but here are…

 

If there is anyone in our business (or show biz generally) with better press skills, we haven’t heard of him or her. We guess that is a truism. If we haven’t heard of them, chances are they don’t have very good press skills. Okay, another wasted lead paragraph.

Whilst our press skills may lack in the “writing catchy lead” department, David Copperfield’s ability to “offer a front-page news item” excels. In fact, a recent study by the Pugh Charitable Trust notes Mr. Copperfield’s ability to “capture headlines is directly and inversely proportional to Inside Magic’s ability to write said headlines.”

We don’t believe this study was a sensible expenditure of money by this great public foundation, we are in agreement. Mr. Copperfield has, as we say in competitive origami, “skills.”

Several months ago, we were among the first to carry news of Mr. Copperfield’s plans to truck his incredible show to Branson for two weeks at Andy Williams Moon River Theater. We wondered aloud – and wrote it on the webpage at the same time – how he would be received.

You know he is an undisputed heavy-weight champ in the world of magic, but Branson already has so many excellent resident magicians with well-established shows in fine theaters. Would they welcome the peripatetic performer who starred as “Ken, The Magician” in the 1980 French Canadian classic film Le Monstre du train (“Terror Train”)?

Inside Magic’s friend Darren Romeo said it would be great to have Mr. Copperfield come to the once-quiet, Ozark destination. Mr. Copperfield’s arrival would provide additional legitimacy to the already extensive entertainment offerings.

Mr. Copperfield told the local paper “if he does his job well, people won’t walk away from his shows saying ‘Well, that was a good trick.'”

Mr. Copperfield garnered incredible press in advance of his run beginning today including a story in today’s News-Leader with a great lead paragraph:

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His likeness is in London’s Madame Tussaud’s. He was knighted by the French government.

He’s vanished an airplane, levitated across the Grand Canyon and escaped from Alcatraz.

And for two weeks, he’ll be in your back yard. Live.

Beginning today, master illusionist David Copperfield performs for two weeks at Branson’s Andy Williams Moon River Theatre.

Not too shabby.

Mr. Copperfield’s interview with an enthusiastic reporter is on the front page of the News-Leader’s Entertainment section this morning. The reporter talked with Mr. Copperfield by cell phone on his return from a “three-day press junket in Berlin.”

We’ve become mini-experts in the Copperfield press interview. We enjoy reading how Mr. Copperfield tailors the interview to the town and builds excitement for the show. This one is different. You can read the full interview yourself — after all, this is a free country and we’re not going to stop you — but here are some of Mr. Copperfield’s responses we hadn’t read before.

Q. Did magic come easily to you?

A. Yeah, it’s just one of those things I had a knack for when I was a kid. … I started inventing it when I was very, very young. I was about 8 years old. … So that was really how I started, really more as inventor than anything else. I was a little scientist. … When I was 12 years old, I got published in the Encyclopedia of Magic, so you can imagine as a 12-year-old kid…

Q. You perform all over the country. Do you have a favorite place?

A. You know, I love every place I’m at. I try to find the fun. … Playing Japan ? you know, to get a Japanese audience to go crazy and … jump out of their seats is kind of my challenge, because normally they’re very respectful and quiet.

In Germany, they love just about everything I do. In America, you know, we’re Americans. We all understand each other. … The challenge is (to) … try and make the most out of it.

Q. How has your performance evolved? Has your focus changed?

A. Totally. In the very beginning, I was very much into movie and Broadway

. . . .

And lately, you know, times have changed and it became more about reality … very urban. People want things that are absolutely real.

So my style has really allowed me to … tell stories about my life through my magic. … Not in a very showy way. … I dress in jeans and a T-shirt and I walk on stage, and the audience really sees enormous contrast between … magic that’s spectacular and big, but me just being like a normal person.

We draw your attention to the adjective “urban” in this answer. He actually modifies “urban” even further by describing his new approach as “very urban.”

One could argue — but really, why? — when Mr. Copperfield’s focus was to emulate a Broadway show, he was certainly in touch with his “urban” side. But he describes his current “very urban” approach in contrast to those Broadway-influenced days. We are guessing Mr. Copperfield is identifying himself with the type of “street-magic” performed by David Blaine and Criss Angel but without mentioning them by name.

One would not sound dopey to describe Mr. Blaine and Mr. Angel’s shows as “urban” or even “very urban.” But Mr. Copperfield is also conveying this “very urban” style of performance is just one manifestation of his talent — it is not who he is. Is this offered in contrast to Mr. Blaine and Mr. Angel who are in fact just “very urban” magicians?

Back to the interview.

Q. Why Branson?

A. I have a lot of friends who have performed there. I’ve heard nice things about it. … I want to give it a try.

Q. Have you been here yet?

A. Never. I’ll be arriving two hours before my first performance.

Q. Is that normal for you?

A. No, but I’ve got a good team, and we’re used to doing this routine of setting up the show and testing everything. You know, I’ll do my final checks and brush my teeth, and I’ll do the show at 8 o’clock that night.

Let’s assume Mr. Copperfield is the undisputed master of the press interview. He knows what he wants to convey and is usually incredibly efficient in his delivering a message to his local audience. How, then, do we read this last section?

He has never been to Branson before in his entire life. He has been all over the world, knighted in France, immortalized in a wax figure, recently at a three day press junket, but he has never been to Branson – ever.

This is apparently an engagement he has either long-delayed or has been working towards throughout his professional career.

But wait, he will whisk in to Branson literally two hours – 120 minutes (we’re unsure of the metric equivalent) before the show. His crew will have the props in place, the dancers and assistants will be ready to dance and assist, the crowd will likely be already lining up to enter the theater when Mr. Copperfield arrives in Branson for the first time in his life.

Could this be read as “Branson is so important to me I needed to literally make time in my 500 show a year schedule to appear there”?

And why is he coming to Branson? Because “I have a lot of friends who have performed there. I’ve heard nice things about it. … I want to give it a try.”

The man is a master we tell you!

He has heard “nice things” about the reporter’s city. His fellow performers have shared their enthusiasm for Branson with him. Both are good reasons and if left with nothing more, the rationale could have sounded elitist or condescending. But Mr. Copperfield drops his final, humbling phrase, “I want to give it a try.”

Frank Sinatra’s advice notwithstanding, apparently Mr. Copperfield does not believe because he was a success in New York City, he can make it anywhere. He will literally be trying-out for the discriminating audiences in Branson.

His statement makes you want to root for him. You can do it Dave. You’ll have to put on your best show, but you can do it.

The man is a master. There is a reason he is so successful beyond his very significant magic abilities. He knows what matters to his audience whether it is an audience of one in a press-interview or the thousands who will now be rooting for him to “make it” in Branson.

David Copperfield performs 8:30 p.m. today and June 20; and 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and June 21-26 at Andy Williams’ Moon River Theatre, 2500 W. Missouri 76. Cost: $34.89-$59.41. Call: 334-4500.

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