Real magic thrills families at Mall 205

Find out why this theater, in an unusual location, attracts sell-out crowds for magic shows; see it live on May 19 …

At the intermission of another show at the All American Magic Theater, in the Hazelwood neighborhood of outer East Portland, everyone comes out smiling.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Since the All American Magic Theater and magic shop moved into Mall 205 in 2012, it quickly became – and continues to be – a leading fun family destination in the area.

“We’ve produced or hosted more than 70 events here in our theater,” smiled master magician (and proprietor) Mark Benthimer.

Backstage at the American Magic Theater, ventriloquist Scott Davis and illusionist Mark Benthimer prepare their next performances.

After attending a performance of what Willamette Week called “Portland’s Best Magic Show”, audience members were commenting that its fun and fast-paced entertainment rivals the best they’ve seen on the Internet.

“But, unlike clips of magic shown online, it’s happening live, right before our eyes,” exclaimed Jenna Jacobson, after her family saw a recent show.

Audiences watch in wonder as scarves, boxes, and bangles emerge from this bag.

While Benthimer and his cast are professionals, having opened for Sammy Hagar and other international acts, the magic man calls this show a “work in progress over time”.

“As we can, we keep upgrading the showroom, stage, lighting, and seating,” he said. “And, we’ve added large-scale illusions, and continue to increase the production value of our performances.”

He’s lost exact count over the years, Benthimer told East Portland News, but more than 10,000 people have come to the theater. And, many of them return, bringing friends and family. “How many people take their friends to see a movie they’ve seen, because they enjoy it so much?” he asked rhetorically.

International magic inventor and performer Jay Scott Berry enthralls audiences with his charming personality and flawless sleight of hand; he stopped in Portland in the course of his world tour.

National touring magicians choose this theater for an intimate Portland venue for their performances and lectures, Benthimer pointed out. “And, we provide to variety arts acts, musicians. and shows, a professional place to perform.”

Master magician Mark Benthimer operates the only “real, live” magic shop in Oregon – complete with dozens of gags and novelty items available –  and it’s here at Mall 205.

Magic shop teaches more than tricks
In addition to the theater, Benthimer also operates the only “bricks-and-mortar” magic shop remaining in Oregon – where customers can see live demonstrations of the props, as well as browse books and DVDs.

“Our shop combines magic props with classic jokes and pranks, just like folks found for decades in downtown Portland at Callin Novelties, before they closed,” Benthimer said, adding that his shop is the only Portland destination for Snakes-in-a-Can, stink bombs, or gag exploding golf balls!

At the magic shop, Mark Benthimer teaches the famous “Cups and Balls” trick to a customer.

“Many parents bring their kids by to learn magic, because they’ve found out that magical entertainment teaches lateral thinking – a topic that isn’t well taught in schools,” Benthimer pointed out. “And, moms and dads quietly confide that they really appreciate it gets their kid away from computers, tablets, and smart phones for a while, as they practice and perform ‘real-life’ skills.

“It’s not just kids who – by learning and performing magic – develop self-confidence, poise, and creative thinking,” Benthimer observed. “Many of our adult patrons say how much they enjoying having ways to ‘break the ice’ and entertain others.”

This young lady seems surprisingly happy, seeing as how the top half of her body has been clearly separated from the bottom. Rest assured the separation is just temporary.

The theater presents shows every three to four weeks, and groups are welcome. “We love hosting birthday parties, and people bring friends and families from out of town,” Benthimer said.

Dannielle Booth, who recently took in the All American Magic Show with her family, gave it “5 Stars” and wrote, in part:

“I thought we were going to a show and making a ‘parent sacrifice’; you know, the obligatory two hours at the indoor play park kind of misery. I was so wrong! This show was fantastic – for the kids, for the parents, and even for the two young couples we saw there on a double date. Everyone had a good time. We were treated like royalty. And, when my son remembers this birthday, he will recall being the guest star of a real magic show.”

Ever see a dreaming princess float on air? You’ll see it live, during the All American Magic & Comedy Show.

Nowhere else can a family of five come and see a real magic show and spend only $55 for a group. And, their snack bar is the most affordable in town. “We invite everyone to come experience the joy and wonder we share in our theater at every show,” smiled Benthimer.

Next show: May 19
The All American Magic & Comedy Show plays again on May 19 at 2:00 p.m., with the entire cast – featuring Benthimer’s amazing illusions, and hilarious hi-jinks of ventriloquist Scott Davis.

Check their website for upcoming other shows and events.

It’s a well-deserved “curtain call” for the cast of the All American Magic & Comedy Show.

Consider buying tickets online – most shows sell out beforehand – by visiting their website: CLICK HERE. Or, call 503-995-7379 for more information. Because the theater is near the east end of Mall 205 – a shopping center that’s been beautifully updated recently – there’s plenty of free parking nearby.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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