|Max McGee will appear at the Stockbridge Theatre tonight. Catch him before he disappears.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- They call him Magic Max. It’s a nickname that 17-year-old Max McGee of Derry has embraced with some reservations.
“It sounds a little childish, I think,” said McGee, a Pinkerton Academy senior.
Because if there’s one thing McGee is not, it’s immature when it comes to magic.
“Magic takes a lot of dedication and hard work and the ability to think of a dream and never ever stop thinking about it,” said McGee. “Every day I think about my dream of being a famous performer and I have dedicated my life to go toward that dream.”
McGee, who is never without a deck of cards, was first introduced to magic when he was 7 years old by his doctor as a way to manage hyperactivity and anxiety, he said.
“It kept me quiet because I was a very loud and energetic kid and I had pretty bad anxiety all of the time,” he said. “I loved magic and just became obsessed with it.”
Since then, McGee has continued following his passion with private shows for friends and family and impromptu performances in school.
At 16, he began work as a contracted street performer at Canobie Lake Park in Salem.
He has also recently signed on with an entertainment company to begin working private functions.
But on Thursday, McGee will take his “street magic” to the stage for the first time in a Vegas-style magic and variety show he has put together himself.
The show begins at 6 p.m. at the Stockbridge Theater at Pinkerton Academy, combining McGee’s original tricks with the musical and dance talents of several classmates. Tickets are available at the door for $5, benefiting Pinkerton’s DECA club, an association of marketing students to which McGee belongs.
McGee’s show features all-new tricks he has created specifically for the Stockbridge stage, including one act where he vanishes and reappears across the theater.
But McGee said his signature is close-up magic with a simple deck of cards.
“There are 52 cards and they have a ridiculous amount of possibilities,” he said. “People love cards because it’s all pure sleight of hand. There are no strings, no wires, no gimmicks. People know exactly what a deck is.”
When putting together tricks, McGee said he starts with a seemingly impossible act — like making a card appear in someone else’s pocket — and then challenges himself to find a way to do it.
But McGee says he doesn’t turn to other magicians for inspiration.
“I don’t read magic books and I will never go into the (International) Brotherhood of Magicians or join a magic club because once I do that, other magicians will try to teach me their tricks,” he said. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be molded by other people.”
McGee said he is already planning his next show, which he calls “Phenomenon.”
“It will be like Blue Man Group plus David Copperfield and Cirque de Soleil all in one,” he said.
He plans to start college next year to pursue a degree in entrepreneurship, which he says will help him with the business side of a career in magic.
And when McGee steps onto the stage for the first time Thursday night, he says he hopes he never leaves.
“For the rest of my life I want to be on stage, whether it be traveling on stage in Las Vegas, New York or Boston,” he said. “I want to be on stage because I want people to go to my shows and leave as the happiest people in the world.”