Who would love to experience getting sawed in half and live to tell all about it?! Or maybe you just want to be queen of Misquamicut for a night wearing a beach tiara and blowing bubbles on stage? Westerly has its very own Vegas-like magic show every summer at 7 p.m. on Thursday nights at the Windjammer that has thrilled and intrigued audiences for years. Magic is a timeless tradition of passing along the next best trick from grandparent to parent to child and sharing it with an audience that leaves them wondering, “how did they do that?”
Larry Stangel who is one half of the partner annual magic show Magic by the Sea remembers his dad doing “little bar tricks” to entertain his friends and other bar patrons. His dad would challenge someone that he could put that olive similar to the one in their martini into another glass without touching it. He would put a brandy snifter glass on top of an olive, swirl it, and well violà—the olive would have moved into the other glass without him laying a finger on it! (hint: centrifugal force).
“He piqued my interest and I bought a book on card tricks,” Stangel said, adding that soon after that he and his dad shared tricks back and forth. “I loved the sense of being fooled and giving that to someone in an entertaining way.”
Larry went on to do his own first magic show at a Boy Scout banquet where he did rope tricks and other standard magic stuff.
“It’s a development process, you start with the basics and either stick with that or chose a vocation such as big illusions, stage magic or manipulation like you see in Vegas,” he said.
Dave Hill is the other half of Magic by the Sea and also grew up with a father who practiced magic and influenced him starting from the age of four.
“For our show, it doesn’t matter if you’re four or 84, it’s a family-friendly show and pretty amazing,” he said.
He feels that he and Stangel are a perfect magical match and their different personalities make the show that much better.
Both men have full-time jobs during the year, Stangel is an engineer for Siemens and Hill is in computer systems but once the summer season hits on Misquamicut Beach they pack their magic gear and love the thrill of entertaining audiences, many who are first timers looking for a unique affordable night out as well as fans who come back year after year and are still trying to figure out the famous Houdini Metamorphosis trick they perform at the end.
What can you expect to experience at Magic by the Sea? The unexpected!
“We do a family show—for all ages, with some comedy,” Stangel said. “We like to make sure the audience participates and gets involved.”
The magic duo creates an intimate stage show with an average audience size of about 60 people, hip music adds to the atmosphere along with backdrops and lighting.
“Expect to have fun, laugh, be amazed, it’s a unique experience,” Stangel.
And yes there are cocktails too! Stangel and Hill perform their trick that was a smash hit last year called the Cocktail Hour, a milk carton is filled with chocolate milk (after all this is a family show), people are given empty cups and chose a drink, any drink they want: Pepsi, beer, wine. And out of that milk carton, that everyone saw chocolate milk go in comes out the drink of their choice!
“This trick gets the most reaction out of anything we do,” Stangel said. “It’s a remarkable trick but I can’t reveal anything, I will get disbanded from magician society.”
And for that famous Houdini trick that is their closer? Hill goes into a huge packing crate, he is handcuffed, a bag is put over him, and the crate is padlocked. Stangel stands on top of the locked crate holding a curtain for three seconds, drops it and he is now inside the crate, handcuffed. How do they do it!?
I do believe Houdini went to his grave never revealing the trick behind the trick!