Lisa Cousins Takes Us Back to Magic of 1909

We love magic and we love history. Ergo, we love Magic History. We love it so much that we went to see Lisa Cousins perform in the Magic Castle’s Parlor of Prestidigitation more than once last week.

Ms. Cousins is an accomplished performer, librarian along with Bill Goodwin in the William W. Larsen Memorial Library and has an infectious appreciation for the history of our craft.

She took audiences back to 1909 when the Lane Mansion – the physical home of the Academy of Magical Arts a/k/a The Magic Castle – was made ready for its first residents. In a well-scripted and delightfully presented show, audiences learned about some of the magic props and styles of the time.

Of particular interest to history buffs like yours truly, Ms. Cousins introduced us to Alice Roosevelt – daughter of Teddy – and her passion for magic. Along the way, we saw the types of magic being sold in brick-and-mortar magic stores and taught through books available to amateurs like the president’s daughter.

Ms. Cousins ended her performance with a wonderful effect set to music originally recorded on an Edison Wax Cylinder in which five watches vanished and reappeared.

The landscape surrounding the Lane Mansion changed almost as soon as the home was made ready for its first residents. The orange groves and dirt roads that made up the Village of Hollywood was claimed by studios and buildings for the nascent film industry.

It is fitting, Ms. Cousins observed, that the Lane Mansion would become a place where magicians could perform as their former venues transformed into “movie houses.”

Ms. Cousins promised to transport audiences back to 1909 and was entirely successful.

We hated to leave that magical time.

The show should be nominated for the Parlor Performer of the Year award.

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