The room darkens and the spotlight shifts. All around, candles flicker. The beautiful blonde woman on stage, dressed as a Victorian spiritualist, chants in a lovely singsong voice, "I sense a presence from beyond..." The candles flicker. The music swells. A brass bell rings, untended by human hands...
This is the experience of "Intrigue Theater," a truly one-of-a-kind magical experience right in the heart of Eureka Springs. The show, which opened in Eureka over a year ago, features the mentalist Sean-Paul and his wife and collaborator, Juliane.
"We've worked with tigers and monkeys and made a jet appear in Branson," says Sean-Paul, who has been a magician for 33 years. "My wife has been cut in half nine different ways, including with lasers. We've done a lot, and in coming here we really kind of thought what would be the most appealing thing for us to do. We've always loved Eureka Springs -- when we were up in Branson this was always 'the retreat,' and so we came up with this concept. We think it is pretty unique. In the Victorian era, mentalism and illusion were as popular as they are today, so we combined that concept of Victorian prestidigitation with the idea of a 'spiritual sťance,' a very popular form of entertainment in the 19th century. We are in a sense reproducing that experience, hopefully to the enjoyment of our audience."
The team initially performed in the Queen Anne mansion but quickly outgrew that venue and moved to the Auditorium downtown, where they performed through the fall and spring.
"It was difficult to move in and out and share the space with other shows at the Aud," said Sean-Paul, "so I approached Jack Moyer at the Crescent Hotel to ask about the possibility of doing something there, and he directed me here to the 1901 Gavioli Chapel at 80 Mountain St. We warmed up to this beautiful old space within five minutes. I could see all these changes in my mind," he added, indicating the theatrical apparatus of their show.
"We are going to take this all this a step further and hopefully do a Houdini-style suspended straight jacket escape hanging off the edge of the Crescent before Halloween," he said. "Plus we have the big sťance at 10 o'clock Halloween night."
The show will continue through the week before Christmas, except for August 23 and 25. The show will continue on between Christmas and New Year's.
"The Crescent is doing a big 'paranormal weekend' in January, and I think we might get bundled into that," Sean-Paul said. "There's nothing like this show that I know of in the country, and it fits Eureka Springs so well. We hope everyone will come and enjoy."
For more information about "Intrigue Theater: an Illusionist & a Medium," go to www.intriguetheater.com or call 479- 244 7028.