Bill Blagg Dazzles Dubuque with Magic and Personal Stories
The renowned illusionist Bill Blagg brought his show to the University of Dubuque's (UD) Heritage Center on January 13, 2023. For roughly 90 minutes, Blagg showed the Tri-States "the impossible" with a show predicated on jaw-dropping magic tricks, cutting-edge illusions, and a bevy of personal stories to tie it all together.
The UD Heritage Center boasted a sizable crowd of adults and students, all of whom came to be wowed by Bill Blagg's show. Blagg is one of the most popular and beloved illusionists in the world. He's appeared on CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. Dubuque marked the first stop on his 2023 tour, which will also travel to Wisconsin, Alabama, and Texas over the next month.
I had the pleasure of talking to Blagg ahead of his Dubuque stop (interview below). Blagg noted that his show is not your conventional magic show, underscored by a costumed-magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat and standing stiffly on a stage. This was a theatrical production, brought to life by fog machines, involved sounds and lights, and a killer soundtrack of old and new pop hits.
This was my first show at the UD Heritage Center as well. It was also the ideal venue for something like this. Its stage is conducive enough for a lot of theatrical business while the seating and overall layout provide a vastness that makes shows (and the venue) feel so much larger.
Blagg's magic was riveting in itself. At one point, he squished his body from six feet to six inches. Later in the show, he passed through the blades of a large industrial fan. His encore involved teleporting across the auditorium. My girlfriend, who was in attendance with me, and I are still trying to put the pieces together on how he did that.
But what kept many people engaged with Blagg was his personal anecdotes that went along with most of the spectacle. Blagg gave the autobiography of his life in between all the tricks and acrobatics. He touched on his great-grandfather being one of his biggest influences in instilling his love for magic. It was he who sent his great-grandson several books filled with tricks both for the novice and advanced magician.
Blagg talked about trying to find his voice and image as a young magician, as well as his graduation from simpler tricks to more complex ones. He proudly demonstrated one he admitted took him 18 years to learn: making three ropes of unequal length all the same length. Also prominently featured was a bit about how he quit the magic game, only for an Italian waiter he met on a trip to Italy to help reignite his spark.
On an otherwise sleepy winter evening, it was a real treat to see some magic wonderment from one of the most acclaimed illusionists in the business. Bill Blagg is a true performer, and it was an ideal "first magic show" for myself. It'll be hard for any future shows of this breed to live up to this one.