In The News

Holiday Window

Children’s Art Exchange opens Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (press release)

First Night offers family-friendly fun in Hartford, Danbury, Westport (CT Post)

‘Mysterious beauty’ of Amazon featured in gallery opening Danbury First Night (CT Post)

Revelers Ready to Ring in New Year (Housatonic Times)

Stiltwalkers, Puppets, Music and More (Danbury Patch)

Danbury ushers in New Year with festive First Night celebration (Danbury News-Times)

First Night Danbury even had Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire (HamletHub)

The Magic of First Night
by Laurel Tuohy
published on

Magic Marty and Peter Gross will imbue a sense of the mystical, fantastical and hysterical into First Night Danbury 2011-2012.

Magic Marty, a First Night veteran of seven years, looks forward each year to the opportunity to perform to family, friends and fans. To the retired business man, magic makes First Night “something special and entertaining for children of all ages. People can be 99 years old or three and when a magician makes something appear or disappear, the audience eats it up. They know it’s an effect, but they eat it up anyway.”

Marty is a former instructor of famed TV magician Criss Angel. “He was a wonderful, creative young man who was interested in music and in a band – but he was always into magic,” said the magician fondly.

The two met at New York State magic camp Tannen’s, a training ground for magicians including David Copperfield and Johnny Thompson.

Marty specializes in the more personal form of magic, parlor or close-up magic meant to be done in the hands for a small group of watchers. He prefers this type because its more personal and friendly. “It’s done as entertainment, but not to make you feel foolish,” Marty explained. He uses mostly coins, cards and small paper items as his props. Marty will perform at the Danbury Ice Arena at this year’s First Night.

Marty is immediately recognizable by his telltale classic magician’s getup. He appears in a dapper dark suit jovially bedecked with novelty buttons and a bright tie and suspenders festooned in a motif such as  through-the-rabbit-hole clocks. His real pride lies, however, in his turn of the century 1900s black beaver top hat. The vintage chapeau, set jauntily on his head, lets fans know that it’s magic time.

“This hat has a rip in it but I don’t care. It’s comfortable and warm. For me, it’s the ultimate, it’s so professional,” he explained.

“It’s important to wear my tuxedo and look top notch when I perform: creased pants and a pocket square. People just  perceive you as more professional.”

Peter Gross, a comedian and magician,  has performed on cruise ships all over the world including the Caribbean, Tahiti and Asia.

Gross, headlining at Danbury’s 1928 Palace Theater on First Night, finds his inspiration in the traditions of vaudeville. For this reason, he’s excited about the unique opportunity of collaborating in a variety show-setting with other artists in the vaudeville tradition in the historic landmark.  “Vaudeville: that’s where all of magic comes from,” he said. When asked if he thought vaudeville-style traditions and performances were making a reemergence, he said, “the trend is just catching up with me.”

Unlike Magic Marty, whose act works in a close-up setting, Gross’ act is meant to be performed on stage, in a theater. He employs sleight of hand and audience participation in his act. He said, “It’s all about drama and comedy and timing – the show is as big as the personalities of the people onstage.”

First Night Danbury is “Looking Up and Moving Forward,” celebrating its 22nd year of fun filled, family friendly arts events throughout CityCenter on New Year’s Eve. The multi-cultural, multi-arts fest begins on Saturday, December 31st with an afternoon 5K run and ends with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. In between,  there’s stilt walkers, giant puppets, storytellers, lots of music, and fun for all.

Buttons, providing entry to all events, are $7.50 and may be purchased at CityCenter Danbury and at various local outlets.  Groups of 20 or more may purchase buttons through CityCenter for $5.00 each. For more information, call CityCenter at (203) 792 1711.

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