teve Valentine moved to Los Angeles from his native Scotland 30 years ago to pursue his entertainment dreams, and the gamble paid off.
As an actor he's appeared in "Mars Attacks!" "Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie" and "Teen Beach Movie," and on TV in "Crossing Jordan," "Dharma & Greg," "Charmed," "Will and Grace," "House M.D." and "Monk" the latter two of which allowed Valentine, 53, to show off his prodigious magical skills that he's been working on since he was a child. He's dazzled his peers at the Magic Castle, and audiences with his one-man show, "Life and Other Deceptions."
Now Valentine is appearing as The Showman, emcee for The Illusionists, a traveling troupe of internationally known tricksters that leaves crowds dumbfounded with their feats and, in Valentine's case, sly wit.
Being part of The Illusionists marks a return to magic for Valentine, who took time off to focus on acting. "I actually had great success as a magician, but I realized as I was auditioning for stuff that anyone who'd seen me work as a magician wasn't taking me seriously as an actor. It was a real conflict. So I quit magic for a number of years, even refused to admit I'd ever done magic. But eventually I decided, 'Y'know what? I've worked as an actor enough. I can do both."
Valentine enjoys the balance of the two crafts. "Film and television is very intense, but it's behind the camera and you don't get reactions. So when I'm burned out I can do something live and get that immediate audience response. The two work well together as a discipline."
The Illusionists has given Valentine a chance to do magic on a larger scale in theaters. "It's quite eye opening. It's a massive production. We have an entire wardrobe department. It's a Christmasy outfit, I would say. It's very exciting, and very different. Im using a lot of different muscles all my theater muscles from back in the day as well as my magic."
Another benefit to the show, he says, is the ability to do "close-up magic" in a large room. "When I started doing magic you couldnt do that. We didn't have the technology to project it properly. Now, of course, I can do a trick with a coin in front of 2,000 people and everyone's gonna see it. I love having that freedom."
While all of The Illusionists have different specialties, Valentine says there's still a sense of competition in the cast. "I said to one of the guys the other day, 'It's not a competition' and he goes, 'Oh, yeah it is.' All right, I got the ground rules. (laughs) We were joking, but when it comes to theatrical types, I would hope there's an element of competition. You've got a lot of talented people in the show, and everyone wants to be the best. YOU don't want to be the weakest link. So I think we're all on our toes, for sure."
The Illusionists Magic of the Holidays plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, and 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $35 and up at 313-471-6611 or 313Presents.com.
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