CIRCUS comes to town!

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There is a small miracle taking place on the Red Hook waterfront.

Fools! I am not talking about the Ikea superstore (though I will soon be filing a deeply incisive review of its ball pit, I assure you!)

No, the miracle is the micro-spectacle that is CIRCUSundays at the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge at the foot of Conover Street.

With just two more Sundays remaining in the series, skip that shopping trip to the big box on Beard Street and give your kids a small-scale theatrical experience that will dazzle and amaze.

It’s a circus, so the actors take the stage and release it to their fellow performers on a revolving basis. On Sunday, a pair of slapstick clowns gave way to a man juggling huge Chinese vases before the juggler yielded to a sweaty man who did a full 360-degree back flip from a standing position before gracefully leaving the stage for a comic magician named Will Fern.

Typically, a man of my bear-trap logic has no use for the black arts of legerdemain, hocus-pocus and the Detroit shim-sham. And I certainly have patience for an act that begins with the magician pulling out an oversized can-punch and saying, “So much for my big opener.”

But if there is a better magician working today, he has not revealed himself to me. I didn’t get where I am in this racket by being beguiled by a mere journeyman, but Fern’s skills made me need supplemental oxygen (and not because of my two-pack-a-day pleasure).

In his greatest feat, he was actually sitting in the audience while his “assistants” did the trick in its entirety. Here is how it went down:

1. A member of the audience picked a card from a deck (it turned out to be the three of clubs).

2. The “assistant,” wearing bunny ears for some reason, handed it to the other assistant, who, just as inexplicably, donned a genie hat. The genie ripped the card into four pieces and put it in the “magic box.”

3. The lapine assistant then carried a tray of oranges to another member of the audience, who stabbed one of the citrus treats with a knife. At that point, the genie said the magic word three times.

4. The audience member handed the orange back to the rabbit.

5. The rabbit-eared gal ripped open the orange to reveal a reassembled three of clubs — minus the bottom corner.

6. Fern expressed shock: “You only said the magic word three times!” he said.

7. The genie re-opened the magic box and, sure enough, found the missing piece of the three of clubs.

This is not to take anything away from rubber-limbed gymnast Rudy Macaggi, juggler David Sharps, or the duo from Cirque Menagerie (which elicited far more glee from the under-8 set than Fern’s bewitchment). But no sleight of hand I have ever seen (and, you’ll recall, I was the Doug Henning correspondent for “Magician Aficionado” in the 1970s) compared to that card-in-the-orange trick.

It will haunt me all my days.

CIRCUSunday at the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge (foot of Conover Street in Red Hook). Advance tickets, $16 (adults), $10 (kids). Call (877) 238-5596 to buy. Add $2 for same-day purchase. For info on the shows, call (718) 624-4719.

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Reader Feedback

Patty L. from NYC and Such says:
Ihave had the pleasure of knowing Will Fern and doing busines with him for many years. His abundant growth and complexity of his "tricks" continue to amaze me and keep me in ever growing "AWE." YOU GO, WILL!!!
June 25, 2008, 12:46 am

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