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COPPERFIELD WILL MIX MUSIC, MAGIC IN PERFORMANCES AT S.L. AND OGDEN

SHARE COPPERFIELD WILL MIX MUSIC, MAGIC IN PERFORMANCES AT S.L. AND OGDEN

Traipsing about the country, doing 500 shows a year, should be a piece of cake for someone like magician/illusionist David Copperfield.

All he has to do is levitate from one stop on the tour to the next, right?Not exactly.

While his astonishing feats look like a snap on stage or television, his entourage involves a crew and cast of 30 people (and one duck), three 48-foot trucks and a fleet buses.

Talking to us Thursday morning from Las Vegas, where he was winding up one of his regular stints at Caesars Palace, he said that his tour "makes a rock 'n' roll tour look like Club Med" by comparison.

"The Magic of David Copperfield," the illusionist's 1989 international touring show, will be presented Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. in the Capitol Theater, Salt Lake City, and on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6 and 9 p.m., in the Austad auditorium of the Browning Performing Arts Center at Weber State College, Ogden.

Tickets for the Salt Lake performances are $10.50, $15.50 and $18.50 and are available at all Smith'sTix outlets and at the Salt Palace box office.

Seating for the Ogden performances are priced at $10.50, $13.50 and $17.50. They're also available at Smith'sTix and at the Dee Events Center box office in Ogden.

Copperfield has been touring extensively for about 6 1/2 years, but he doesn't consider it a grind.

"I love it. I absolutely love it. Touring gives me a chance to create new material. I love to mix music and magic," he said, explaining that he approaches his presentation of magic and illusion as if he were presenting a concert.

The next stop on his itinerary following his Utah visits was supposed to be the Orpheum Theater in downtown San Francisco, but that date has been temporarily placed "on hold" because there may have been some structural damage to the theater in this week's massive earthquake.

Copperfield, 33, grew up in Metuchen, N.J. As a lad (then he went by the family name, David Kotkin) he was shy, but he was given a ventriloquist's dummy and soon learned that, by throwing his voice, he could entertain friends and relatives. It was a real ego-booster.

By the age of 12 he had shifted his interest into magic and at 16 he was instructing a course in magic at New York University. But his own attempt at college life was short-lived. He entered Fordham University, but three weeks later he was offered the lead role in "The Magic Man," after which his career moved into high gear - where it's been ever since.

Next year, on March 30, he'll star in his 12th television special on CBS. These annual TV outings just seem to get more and more spectacular, and a lot of the illusions you see on the TV shows come from his touring productions.

For his four Utah performances, Copperfield (who took his stage name from the Charles Dickens character) has conjured up a sensational new illusion featuring a Harley-Davidson.

The ideas for his new illusions come to him in his dreams.

"Then I lock myself in a room with headphones on and play music for inspiration to develop something that will work," he said.

Music - everything from Rossini and Mozart to Sting and Harry Belafonte - is an integral part of Copperfield's shows. He'll be using a lot of vibrant rock 'n' roll music this time to enhance the staging of his illusions.

His show also will include some mentalist exercises (he joked about saving the women's phone numbers for future reference), and an attempt at self-levitation.

Touted as the "master illusionist of our time," Copperfield was excited about adding Ogden to his itinerary for the first time. He's performed in Salt Lake City on several previous occasions and has also performed at the Marriott Center in Provo, "but we've been trying to work Ogden into our schedule for the past few years," he said.

"This will be a brand new show with lots of new illusions," he promised.

But you can bet that one favorite crowd-pleaser will be there. That's Webster, the duck, a pet given to Copperfield a few years ago.

"Webster," said Copperfield, "is a natural. He's had no training."

Unlike the duck, Copperfield is in training. His shows require a lot of athletic prowess, and he has a physical fitness trainer who puts him through a regimen of diet and exercise.

Most of Copperfield's touring dates are one- and two-night stands, with longer runs in larger cities. He has a contract to perform regularly at the Caesars Palace showrooms in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic city.

Copperfield has gained international fame for such feats as "walking through" the Great Wall of China, escaping from a 13-story building just a fraction of a second before it's blown to smithereens by dynamite or making the Statue of Liberty "disappear." But one of his most heart-warming accomplishments is Project Magic, which doesn't receive a lot of media attention.

It's a program that utilizes magic as a form of occupatonal therapy for physically and mentally handicapped patients. It has now expanded to thousands of medical facilities in nearly 30 countries, where fellow magicians teach simple magic tricks to patients.

"It's a medically credible therapy tool supported by all of the major medical organizations," said Copperfield, "but it's something we keep on a low key basis from the media."

What Project Magic does is make disabled patients' low self-esteem vanish.