Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Magic Man John Rotellini: a Show of Illusions, not Tricks

jessie koon • The Spectator

A good magician never reveals his secrets; a great one forces you to question whether the tricks can be explained at all.

Anyone who attended John Rotellini’s show last Friday will probably say that he belongs to the latter group. Part magician, part comedian, all entertainer, Rotellini has travelled the world captivating audiences by doing the impossible. He contacted members of SEAC to express his interest in coming to Seattle University. Vice President of Event Operations Grace Martz made it happen.

“I really like magic shows,” Martz said. “They kind of frustrate me, in a way, because I want to know how they do it, and they never tell you.”

Martz said that, above all, Rotellini was a professional both in organizing the show and performing it. Watching him on stage, one could tell that he had every move planned, down to the last detail.

“It’s really cool to see all of these crazy things that people have come up with to make tricks work,” Martz said. “Even if you don’t know how it works, you know that there’s something going on behind the scenes.”

The first couple of times Rotellini asked for volunteers from the audience, few people were bold enough to raise their hands. With some tricks and a handful of witty jokes, he turned the Pigott Auditorium into an intimate venue and, soon enough, almost everybody was raising their hands and Rotellini had trouble finding an eager face in the crowd that hadn’t already been on stage.

Although she never got the chance to be part of one of Rotellini’s tricks, sophomore Alyssa Lawl had a great time at his show.

“I love magic. I think it’s really fun to watch,” Lawl said. “He got the audience really involved, and I think that’s great. People were so eager to be a part of the show.”

For one trick, Rotellini gave a playing card to a volunteer and had them write their name on it; he did the same with a different card. After they had both written their own names on their own cards, Rotellini told the volunteer to put the card in his back pocket and return to his seat. A few tricks later, Rotellini took the card out of his pocket. After showing the audience that his own name was written on it, he took the card and folded it in his hands, fumbling his fingers for a few moments before opening them, unfolding the card and revealing to the crowd that the name of the volunteer had replaced his own. Then he turned to the volunteer, who was squirming in his seat and asked him to retrieve the card from his back pocket. After some nervous hesitation, the volunteer did as he was told and, low and behold, he removed a card bearing a signature, scribbled in slanted script. It read: John Rotellini.

“It’s fun to trick the mind into seeing something that bends the rules of reality a little bit,” Lawl said. “You’re not thinking about the outside stresses of the world when you’re being an active member of the audience in a magic show, you’re just so focused on what’s happening on stage.”

Throughout the show, Rotellini was tactical in leading up to the climax of his tricks. All of the elements, it seems, were laid out far before the show started. In that way, Rotellini was like a chess player, but instead of playing with small model figures of kings, queens, knights and pawns, Rotellini toyed with the curiosity of his captivated audience.

Unlike Lawl, Pahj Reohr was lucky enough to be chosen as a volunteer to participate in one of Rotellini’s tricks. She also enjoyed the show.

“[Rotellini] incorporated a lot of humor,” Reohr said. “And went off of unplanned situations while keeping things funny.”

Magicians have always been the unlikely heroes of the entertainment business. The best of them can make an audience laugh until they cry, jump out of their seats and cover their mouths in pure disbelief, all within the span of an hour long show.

According to Reohr, Rotellini did a great job “blowing every single person’s mind straight into the ozone.”

Nick may be reached at [email protected]

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  • J

    John Rotellini
    Jan 17, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! I had a wonderful time at Seattle University and am so glad to hear such positive things regarding the show!