Young magicians performed at tables on Saturday June 8, from left to right, Max Bernard, Cohen Carrier, Mary Richard , Lee Carrier, Sarah LeBlanc , Mayli Poirier , Tucker Hamner, Remington MacLeod, and Alden Gaudet in Rumford at 49 Franklin Reception Hall and Mystic Theater. Courtesy Photo/Cindy Grassette

REGION —On June 8, the historic 49 Franklin Reception Hall and Mystic Theater in Rumford featured nine budding magicians from The School of Magic and Showmanship. They took center stage for the “Magic on the Menu” dinner show. Among these young illusionists were Mary Poirier of Livermore Falls, Mary Richard of Jay, and Sarah LeBlanc of Wilton, each of whom delivered spellbinding performances that left the audience in awe.

The mastermind behind the event and founder of The School of Magic and Showmanship, Scot Grassette said the students performed ‘strolling magic’ as people entered and found their seats. After people were seated, each student performed a set of three ‘close-up magic’ tricks at their tables. Following the close-up sets, students went ‘table to table’ with one special effect they performed.

“We always start the classes with an oath,” Grassette explained. “The oath includes a promise to not make fun or ridicule other magicians and to be kind to each other. We lift each other by paying attention when someone is performing and giving applause when we feel someone deserves it.” Grassette emphasized the teamwork involved in producing a show worthy of the audience’s attention and money.

The nine students performed table to table, some breaking through their shyness to greet and perform for a room full of supportive friends, family, and local community members. After the table performances, each magician performed a special individual trick they had prepared. The event culminated with a group trick on stage involving Oreos, which were shared with the tables.

“I hope the audience was blown away by the magic that happened inches away from them. Many people only see magic on TV or online; it’s quite an improvement to see it ‘live’ and in person, close-up and personal,” noted Grassette.

Second-year student Mayli Poirier, age 11 from Livermore Falls said, “I had fun.” Cherry Poirier, Mayli’s mother, said, “I think this class makes a positive impact on the students because it gives them a unique skill that most kids don’t have the opportunity to learn and that’s amazing in this day and age where technology has taken over for entertainment.”


Mary Richard, left, of Jay, Sarah LeBlanc of Wilton and Mayli Poirier of Livermore Falls performed in a magic show on June 8 at Rumford’s 49 Franklin Street after weeks of practice in Rumford. Courtesy Photo/Cherry Poirier

Sarah LeBlanc, age 13, of Wilton, in her second year with the school, shared her experience in the class. “The magic show was more fun than I thought it was going to be, I’m not one to approach strangers,” LeBlanc said. “I have really bad social anxiety so this show gave me a lot of anxiety but also helped me break out of my shell a little. The tricks were fun, I learned a lot about the history of magic and slight of hand, next year could possibly be escape magic which I’m really looking forward to. I probably will be back next year to learn more about the art of magic.”

Grassette explained his teaching method. “I often demonstrate the magic and ask who wants to learn it,” Grassette said. “Mostly all hands go up. I explain a bit of history of the effect and famous magicians who have made it part of their professional set. Once I explain the trick and give some insight and tips, I ask students to try it out in front of the class. Close-up magic requires focus and attention to learn the moves. Several people in my magic circle thought I was nuts to teach close-up in this setting, but the kids are doing great!”

Students also learn about scripting, stage presence, facial expressions, reactions, and applause cues, Grassette said. They are encouraged to find their character by answering questions like, “Who are you?” “Where are you from?” and “How did you get your magic powers,” explained Grassette.

Grassette, who has been teaching stage and platform magic for nearly a decade, highlighted the dedication and progress of his students. “These kids have been working hard and learning a lot,” Grassette said. “They are dedicated and have been practicing well. They should be proud of how far they’ve come in a relatively short period of time.”

The logistical challenge of coordinating nine young magicians to perform seamlessly takes some planning. Cindy Grassette, Grassette’s wife, helped ensure everything flowed smoothly. Each student had a clear role, starting with strolling magic, moving to table performances, and culminating in solo and group stand-up parlor performances.

As the evening drew to a close, the finale featured all the students performing a small set together, showcasing their sleight of hand and the skills they had honed over months of practice. The night was filled with applause, smiles, and plenty of audience participation, enhancing the magical atmosphere.

“A magician at your table may ask you to select a number, shuffle the cards, hold a coin, or engage with people much more than if they were onstage,” Grassette noted, reflecting on the importance of close-up magic. “This format really makes the experience personal and very special. These are not little beginner tricks from a kit or the back of a cereal box. These are magic effects that full-time pros use to entertain professionally.”

For those who missed this magical event, plans are already being made for the next class. Grassette and his students are looking forward to future performances, potentially focusing on escape magic next. “The students and the audience overwhelmingly voiced escapes to be the next set of classes and shows,” Grassette said. “I’ve made a list and pulled some resources. This is going to be spectacular.”

As Grassette aptly put it, “Practice makes magic,” and the dedicated students at The School of Magic and Showmanship proved just that with an evening of magic. “Practice, practice, practice,” Grassette advised. “These things may not come to you right off, but when they do, it’s like a switch was made and now you can do it! Also, perform as much as you can, as many times as you can. Finally, try to avoid learning magic from the internet. You may pick up bad habits. The best place to learn magic is from books, which can be found on the internet.”

Sarah LeBlanc, left, Mayli Poirier, and Mary Richard perform a group trick in the 2023 Magic Show in Rumford. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

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