OCEAN CITY — Nightly magical experiences and many family-friendly laughs are now being offered in Ocean City.
Beginning last week on June 24 and running through Aug. 25, the Holiday Inn Oceanfront and the acclaimed Dickens Parlor Theater will present Dickens on the Road Magic Shows. This summer the shows will occur nightly at 7 p.m. On rainy beach days, a rainy day matinee will be offered in the afternoon.
Dickens Parlor Theater, based in Millville, Del., is in charge of booking the schedule each summer and this year has once again pulled in some of the country’s best magicians for one-week stints in the resort.
Two years ago, the shows were held on Wednesdays but early success led to the addition of Saturday night shows. Last summer, due to positive feedback and increasing popularity, a seven-night schedule was unveiled.
Last week the season opened with the magic of Chris Capehart, a master magician who has been performing for audiences of all sizes for 40 years. The Dispatch attended his impressive opening night act last Wednesday night along with 100 other individuals from as far away as California and Colorado and as close as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
“I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. My kids were really into it from the beginning and throughout and nothing keeps their attention these days,” said Long Island, N.Y. resident Jay Steinen of his children ages 8 and 5. “I expected to see some cool tricks, which I was like the levitating table, but I didn’t realize how funny he would be. That made it entertaining for the adults as well. He was hilarious and very talented obviously. We own a condo here and will be back in August to see another show. It’s a fun night.”
Throughout the hour-long performance, Capehart interacted with his audience and every child-aged attendee was included in the show in one fashion or another. Some adults were also included. Along with card tricks and his patented skills with three rings, Capehart impressed the audience the most with his magic involving the floating table.
“That was my daughter who was up there holding the table cloth and she has no idea how he did it. I don’t either,” Steinen said.
Holiday Inn General Manager Jason Gulshen said it’s that kind of positive feedback that makes his company — the Harrison Group — so proud to host these nightly shows.
“It is a unique offering here in Ocean City and quality entertainment for the entire family. It really is fun to watch from the time people enter the room and are skeptics at best, just doing it for the kids until the end of the night at the close up performance where the dads are huddled up talking to strangers about what they just saw,” Gulshen said. “It really does bring a group of strangers together.”
Gulshen shared a message he received from a man in attendance at Capehart’s show last week.
“[The man wanted] to tell me how his family had a great time. They are about 50 with two teenage sons. He said he has not seen his wife laugh like she did last night in 15 years, and they went home last night and had a great talk about their life, etc. He said it was the perfect night in OC not only for his family, but for his marriage,” Gulshen said. “That was a little deep and unexpected, but we will take it. It’s just fun for us to see people on vacation truly make a memory and give them something to talk about, that’s what it’s all about. We also have couples coming for date nights, as it is something different then the ordinary dinner and a movie, or social clubs/work groups come to a show for a little team building.”
After the performance, attendees can enjoy even more up close and personal interactions with the magician performing that evening. It’s an opportunity to speak with the magician further and be more of a part of the show in a smaller parlour setting. On most night, at least one other magician will be on hand to impress the crowd.
Capehart will return to the Holiday Inn Oceanfront later this summer, Aug. 19-25 to close out the season.
The schedule of performers moving forward features Francis Menotti, who began his run in Ocean City on July 1 and will stay through July 8; Mark Phillips on July 9-15; Bruce Gold, July 16-21; Peter Samelson, July 22-28; Rich Bloch, July 29-Aug. 3; Eric Buss, Aug. 5-11; and Will Fern, Aug. 12-18.
Tickets for any of the shows are available at the door but seating is limited so it’s recommended to early purchase at www.ocmagicshow.com. For children, the cost is $14 and it’s $18 for adults.