SALISBURY – Proportionately, it’s easier to make it as a rock star than as a magician so when Brad Ross found a steady gig at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., right out of college it was a job with which he was pretty happy.
Ross was captivated by the magician’s performance at his 5th birthday party and began performing right away. Lots of kids get into magic as they approach middle school but hardly any have the drive and determination to work at it hard enough to be working professionals by high school.
Throughout high school and college Ross worked birthday parties and similar events. Several attendees of Ross’ Great Adventure shows, impressed with what appeared to be an amount of spectacle disproportionate to the small park, told him he should try to go to Disney World and get a job.
While he thanked them for their compliments Ross had to tell them that the Magic Kingdom didn’t have a magic spectacular so he couldn’t go to them. Then one day, they came to him.
In 2005 Feld Entertainment, which produces the “Disney Live!” series, was just beginning to add stage shows to their already popular touring repertoire, which included the tour shows Disney on Ice, Ice Capades, and Barnum and Bailey Circus. They’d been scouting illusionists all over the country and came to the conclusion that so many of Ross’ other audience members had — his magic was Disney good.
“Disney is just synonymous with the word magic,” he said. “I just took it as an honor to happen to be the one ho was selected.”
Especially given that the Disney Live! producer Kenneth Feld also produced master illusionists Siegfried and Roy.
Ross said he was further humbled not only for the opportunity to work with illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer – “He’s like the Steven Spielberg of magicians,” Ross said – but also that they took Ross’ skills as an illusionist and showman so seriously.
After offering him the job the illusion director, Steinmeyer and the rest of the production team met with Ross and asked for his ideas about the show.
“I was just blown away that they asked me what I wanted to do in the show,” he said.
Not only did they ask but they also agreed with and consented to many of Ross’ proposed changes, additions and deletions.
One of the illusions Ross had always envisioned performing was one he’d seen in David Copperfield’s show in the early 1980s. The bit centered on sawing two women in half at once and Ross imagined a variation on it – a variation which he’s keeping secret except to say it has a surprise ending.
Steinmeyer agreed with Ross’ vision and, having worked with Copperfield, knew where to get hold of the original gear used to perform the trick. Being able to perform the trick with the very gear that inspired it is just another day at the office for Ross now, but in the best sense possible.
Though he’s entering his fifth year on the road and has come to except the extreme commitment to excellence Feld Entertainment has when it comes to improving the performance, he mixes his expectancy of the wonderful with a continued awe that it happens every time.
The show is a mix of Disney characters performing and being involved in magic tricks and Ross’ larger-scale illusions, giving Ross the opportunity not only to stretch his own abilities but also allowing him to work with Master Magician Mickey Mouse in all aspects of performance illusion.