Dave Thomen’s last live show took place Wednesday, March 11 at Greenmount Station, where he has been performing his magic act each week for eight years.
His event for that weekend was being canceled, with the coronavirus pandemic beginning to take hold. But Thomen wasn’t about to let his show go, well, up in smoke.
The longtime Hampstead resident’s personal YouTube channel had already been established, so Thomen freshened it with a handful of new videos of him performing. By the time interested clients began contacting him about doing some sort of interactive magic show on Zoom, a popular online video conferencing service, he had already been thinking about it.
“I was quick to say, I’ve got to create something,” Thomen said. “I really can’t take what I’m doing for a live audience now, and just try to do it in front of my laptop. I am really, in some regards, re-creating the magic. I am the old magician with the new trick up my sleeve, if you would.”
Thomen’s creation, D’s Magic, has been a regional staple for 15 years. He has been a professional performer for more than 25 years, and is the recipient of several entertainment awards.
The coronavirus outbreak might have darkened Thomen’s live performance schedule, but he said he’s eager to stretch out into the virtual world.
“As someone who will be 55 this year, I could just say, ‘Hey, this is my early retirement.’ But I’m not ready to stop prestidigitating,” Thomen said. “I’m really excited with what I’m going to do for a program interactive.”
Thomen said his plan is to create a “wizard’s workshop,” and he wants to base it off a TV show from 2014 called “Wizard Wars.” The reality show lasted only one season, but Thomen recalled magicians creating and performing original routines in front of a live audience.
Thomen has been working on an interactive show that incorporates some of that TV show’s concepts, and said he has the ability to shape it for children and adults.
One of his plans is to have a list of household items for people to gather, and once his Zoom show begins, Thomen will choose people and try to create magic tricks with those items.
“They’re going to get a little behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a magician or a wizard,” he said. “Kids would be learning and seeing magic.”
Thomen said he has a painting of a bird at his home studio hanging behind him, but in one of his tricks a real dove comes out of the photo for all to see — it will be a cameo from Geri Dove, the family’s pet bird.
“I can engage children of all ages,” Thomen said. “So they’re going to have something to do before the program. They have to gather as many of these things as possible.”
Thomen said he doesn’t perform any tricks involving fire during a live show for young children, but in his virtual world there’s nothing keeping him from blowing out a birthday candle before making it disappear.
He said he has been keeping up his research on interactive magic so he can include some of it in his act, and hopes to introduce a tie-in between famed performer Harry Houdini and the Spanish flu pandemic that took hold in 1918.
Thomen said he has been contacted in recent weeks about hosting future virtual events. He said he expects to have his first interactive Zoom show ready to go next week.
Working up this entirely new concept for an act has had him focused on creativity and he understands he might have to get creative and possibly do virtual shows in place of some of his traditional performances, such as at the annual Common Ground on the Hill event in Westminster, or at various summer camps for the Jewish Community of Greater Baltimore’s Owings Mills location.
“The whole idea is to involve some lessons and how to do magic,” Thomen said. “I’ve upped the game for the older group. If we end up going virtual for Common Ground on the Hill this summer, my plan for that is to even [raise] it up ... give me any item you’ve got. Can you out-wiz the wizard?”