Magic returns to outer East Portland

Find out what it’s been like, for the stars of this long-running family magic-and-comedy show, to again be entertaining families in their theater at Mall 205 …

Although eager to see a live show for the first time in a year, families remain socially-distanced while arriving ate, and being seated in, the All American Magic & Comedy Show Theater in the Gateway District of outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After many years of entertaining thousands of kids and adults, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic “turned off the lights” for the families of entertainers who are the cast and crew of the All American Magic & Comedy Show.

“It’s been more than a paycheck for us; it’s a family thing, and we’ve missed it,” said master magician and illusionist Mark Benthimer – who is also the long-running show’s creator, as he took a break from rehearsing the new edition of the show that opened on April 4.

With the State of Oregon and Multnomah County clamping down on COVID-19 restrictions again just a few days after that show; they were forced to cancel their show in May.

With masks on backstage, ready to perform, the all-star cast of the All American Magic & Comedy Show is about to start their first show since early in 2020.

“But, we’re so happy to be reopening on June 19,” Benthimer smiled. Read on, to learn more about that show!

Asked how long he’d been a professional full-time entertainer, Benthimer exclaimed, “Wow, can you believe it? It’s been more than 30 years now!

“I was drawn to magic because of the positive effect it has on people, making grandparents feel like a kid again as they ‘take a little break’ from reality,” Benthimer affirmed. “And, seeing kids’ eyes go wide with amazement, the smiles coming on their faces, and their jaws dropping, is a sight very few other entertainers get to see.”

“As far as the other variety arts, magic and illusion shows seemed cool to me because they offer audiences a mixture of magical wonder and elements of comedy, music, dance and acting – all rolled into one show!”

Performing the mysterious, traditional “Basket Girl Illusion” on stage, here’s master magician Mark Benthimer, assisted by Sarah.

While the All American Magic & Comedy Show Theater has been located in Mall 205 since 2012, the shows actually began in the Jantzen Beach Mall in 2006 – until the mall was demolished to make way for a strip of retail stores. “We didn’t have a ‘real’ theater then – just an empty storefront where we’d set up folding chairs, and put up portable backdrops – and we’d promote the show by handing out thousands of flyers,” Benthimer reminisced.

Although the revival of their theater in Mall 205 was shut down in May, the experience of performing that first April show lifted their spirits, he told East Portland News.

Comedian and ventriloquist Scott Davis gets a hand with “multiplying stuffed animals” from Angelia.

Finally, the magic returns – masks and all
“All of us, including myself, were excited and delighted to be back on stage,” Benthimer said. “It was tough with the mask protocols, wearing face masks and shields, because we didn’t know how the audience would now interact with live entertainment – after a year of watching TV and the Internet.

“But, everyone in the audience took it in good stride; we all maintained COVID-19 safety protocols – and even made sure the volunteers used hand sanitizer before, and after they helped out on stage!” Benthimer pointed out.

“And, what really touched us was that the next day, parents messaged us how much they, and their kids, loved the show. People keep telling us they can’t believe such a great show, for people of all ages, is in a theater inside Mall 205!”

It was difficult for them to stay there during the pandemic shutdown, though; paying for the theater every month with no ticket sales. “What our April show did was reassure us that the magic will continue,” Benthimer said, as he disappeared backstage.

With a few passes of his hand, Magi Benthimer causes this little girl from the audience to float, as if she’s lighter than air.

On June 19, the All American Magic & Comedy Show returns
At 2:00 p.m. a this exciting live show by master illusionist Mark Benthimer, with the hilarious escapades of ventriloquist Scott Davis, is supported by their own cast of stars.

They’re following COIVD-19 mandates for safety of all who come for the fun, live magical entertainment. Portland’s only magic theater is presenting another incredible two-hour family show filled with mind bending illusions, music, dazzling assistants, audience participation – along with side-splitting comedy and magic.

Get tickets online (buy early – they usually sell out every show), and see their special “family pack” deals at this website: CLICK HERE. Or, call 503-995-7379 for more information. The theater also boasts Portland’s best snack bar deals, with cotton candy and popcorn for a buck, plenty of free parking, and an on-site Magic Shop. It’s all inside at Mall 205, 9710 S.E. Washington Street, 97216.

Miss Summer is still smiling, even after being bisected, performing the illusion called “Modern Art”.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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