CRYSTAL LAKE – The magic continues.
In its 17th year, the “Nothin’ Up My Sleeve” vaudeville magic benefit takes to the Raue Center for the Arts stage on Saturday. Adults and children alike will be amazed.
“One of my passions since I was a kid has been magic,” said Glenn Chelius, one of the producers. “I started putting the idea together 18 years ago. I envisioned having a benefit magic show at Raue Center. When we raised our funds and were open for business, I knew I wanted to do a benefit fundraiser magic show, and here we are, in our 17th year.”
Chelius moved to Crystal Lake with his wife nearly 25 years ago. They were exploring their new hometown and made their way to Main Street. Chelius was a theater major in college and said he immediately was drawn to the Raue, noticing a paper thermometer in the window at the time that showed the status of their fundraising efforts.
Chelius went inside and has been involved with Raue Center ever since, starting as a volunteer on their marketing team. He also worked on their parade floats for 12 years, served on the board of directors for a time and designed their current logo, which features three people jumping up and reaching for the stars.
Chelius stuck to his word, joining forces with Nino Cruz to bring this family friendly event to fruition. The inaugural show included Marshall Brodien of WGN-Channel 9’s “Bozo’s Circus” and “The Bozo Show” fame as emcee. Brodien played wizard clown character “Wizzo the Wizard” from 1968 to 1994.
The show was a great success and Chelius and Cruzillini kept it moving from there.
“Because of his [Brodien] fame, we were able to bring a lot of talent to the Raue for that first show. Through that, Nino and I have become friends with many of these people and have been able to continue to bring talent of this level to our show each year, which has made it a really great success. Wizzo really helped us make a success of this thing,” Chelius said.
In years past, Bozo the Clown, Ronald McDonald and Svengoolie have made appearances.
This year’s lineup includes Plaz Garcia’s magic manipulation and dove act, “Circus Boy” Bobby Hunt is back to perform his world-renown comedy juggling and balancing act, and Charles Magicien will perform classic music magic with cards, fire and doves. Up-and-coming magician Rob Nacu, a.k.a. “Rob the Magic Guy,” will make his “Nothin’ Up My Sleeve” debut performing child-friendly magic with audience involvement. The evening’s finale is the Vegas-style illusions and comedy of Glen Gerard.
Chelius’s ventriloquist hare, “Henri the Hare,” will make appearances to joke around with the crowd. Chelius wants to remind attendees that “’he likes to be called a hare, not a rabbit.’”
Doors open at 6 p.m. Saturday and attendees may warm up with some close-up magic in the lobby prior to the show’s 7 p.m. start. The show’s producing duo of Chelius and Cruz will emcee the event.
Post-show, attendees can meet the performers in the lobby where they will be signing posters, taking photos and talking magic.
Chelius said this year the show is going back to its vaudevillian-style roots, doing what worked well at the show’s start: A variety of close-up magic and the big illusion.
“What we love is that it’s live. It’s right in front of you. It’s not a YouTube video,” Chelius said. “We’re giving people that live experience. That’s what inspired me as a kid, being able to go to a live show and meet the performers after. There’s something magical about that. We like to think we’re inspiring the next generation of magicians.”
Proceeds from the show benefit Raue Center for the Arts. To purchase tickets online, visit rauecenter.org/events or visit or call the Raue Center box office at 815-356-9212.