They have been illusionists since they were babes.
Jeff Nelson, founder of Nelson Illusions, fell in love with magic at age five, at a birthday party. He was entranced, said his daughter Sharii. “He thought it was so beautiful and amazing that anything you could imagine could become a reality.”
Sharii began at an even younger age. “My parents were working at a theatre with the Russian Ballet,” said Sharii, and they took her everywhere, setting up a playpen backstage during the show. But at that theatre, there was no room for the playpen, “so my parents put me on a chair and told me to stay put until after the show.” She was 1-1/2.
During the Houdini act, Jeff would escape from a straitjacket, throwing it on the floor. Sharii’s mom would drag the straitjacket offstage.
“One night, my mom was busy changing costumes, so I got off my chair,” said Sharii. She toddled onto the stage, grabbed the straitjacket, and started dragging it off. The spotlight found her. And when she made it backstage, her dad told her to run back onstage and take a bow, because the audience was cheering.
“I’ve been in the show ever since.”
And now Sharii is Sharii MacNeill, and her husband Scott is also part of the four-person Nelson Illusions.
Their expertise is not only theatre and illusion, “but we do a bit of everything,” said Sharii. They have training in carpentry, electrical work, metalworking, set design, costume design, illusion and magic design and building, ballet, jazz dance, music, acting, mime and marketing.
Nelson Illusions will do two performances at the Unity Christian Knight Center in Orange City, Saturday, Jan. 23 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm, sponsored by Orange City Arts.
The prediction is that the audience will love the show.
The Nelsons often talk with the audience afterwards, “and everyone loves something different,” said Sharii. “Some people love the big illusions, some people the complex magic, and others the romance. But the most common thing we hear is that they loved everything!”
The most spectacular part of the show, however, is the Drill of Death, said Sharii. “At 4,000 pounds, it’s the largest illusion in the world. It’s definitely a show stopper.”
The 110-minute show — with intermission — is part of the Orange City Arts’ Beyond Onstage series. Tickets are general admission, and are $12 for adults and $8 for students in advance, available at Dove Bookstore, Northwestern College Theatre office and Orange City Arts. Advance tickets may be purchased at Dove Bookstore until noon on January 23.
At the door, admission is $15 adult, $10 student. Doors open at 2pm and 7pm.
For more information, see orangecityarts.net, call 707-4885 or email ocArts@orangecityiowa.com .
“Everything we wanted & more!”
“Absolutely the BEST magic & illusion show we’ve ever had!”
“Wonderful! Area residents are already asking when they will return.”
“A FANTASTIC show! We enjoyed every second of it!”
“Electrifying… exciting… mesmerizing!”
Check out The Smoke & Mystery tour here.