By R.A. Dyer
Clowning, floating kids and balloon animals — all that and more were packed into the Assembly’s recent “Magic in the Garden” event at East Austin’s Vortex Repertory Theater.
The magic variety show for children was sponsored by Assembly 206 as part of its 2016 mission to promote magic in Central Texas. It was conducted on September 24, a Saturday, in lieu of the assembly’s regular monthly meeting, and directed by Austin veteran magician Kent Cummins.
“We had a fantastic time,” said one happy father of two.
Featured performers included Bertil Fredstrom, John Maverick, Peter the Adequate, Bonzo Crunch, Cranius Astounding, Steve Farmer, Cayden Stapp, Shelby Parsons, Robert Castillo and Aaron Parker-Fasel. Cummins, in his “Felonius the Fool” persona, served as master of ceremonies.
The outdoor event began with John “Mad Man” Maverick, who entertained 50 or so attending children with his kid-pleasing RenFest act. Mad Man Maverick performed on the main stage, which was covered with a pop-up shelter to protect performers from the sun and — as it turned out — the rain.
Early forecasts put the chance of showers at 80 percent and as it turned out, those forecasts were 80 percent correct. The afternoon remained generally dry and not until Bonzo the Clown took the stage did the clouds open up. But Bonzo, not missing a beat, brought eager children to the covered stage to watch his hilarious antics up close.
Bertil Fredstrom then took the stage as Black Bert the Magician. The rain had ceased at this point, which allowed Black Bert to amaze the crowd with his fantastic chair levitation. Peter the Adequate, as the final stage act, concluded the day with a beautiful sponge ball production and his hilarious “Acme disappearing bandana” comedy routine.
Besides the outdoor stage, the Vortex also includes a patio, the Patrizi’s food trailer and an indoor bar. Close-up card expert Shelby Parsons performed in the bar and also outside on the patio grounds. He shared those spaces with young Cayden Stapp, a rising young talent from Temple, Texas. Other busking performers included JD Stewart, Robert Castillo, Steve Farmer and Cranius Astounding.
And if that wasn’t enough entertainment, Aaron Parker-Fasel killed as the Lone Star State’s funniest balloon sculptor. Austin’s Famous Magic Camp also sponsored kid’s magic lessons in an outdoor building, the Pony Shed.
And for the generally contented parents, mercifully, there was a wide and satisfying selection of adult beverages at the indoor Butterfly Bar. “This was awesome,” said one cocktail-sipping adult attendee as he eyed merrily frolicking children. “What more could you want.”
Cummins, who did a fantastic job as the event director, also put together a program for the event, as well as goody bags for the first 100 children who walked through the door. The bags went quickly.
Financial sponsors of the Magic in the Garden include Assembly secretary Steve Farmer and Assembly VP Cranius Astounding. SAM 206 president Jake Dyer served as executive producer.