INWOOD – Mario Orsini once made Marshall University basketball head coach Donnie Jones appear “out of thin air.”
Orsini, 31, said the trick marked a turning point in his dabbling in illusionism and magic — what had once been a casual hobby soon became a career pursuit, which he’s parlayed into appearances at the Greenbrier Resort, the University of Central Florida Arena, the Miss West Virginia Pageant for four years running, the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival, the General Jackson Showboat in Nashville, and during his first national TV appearance on the Shotgun Red Variety Show.
On Saturday, he will bring his bag of tricks to Musselman High School for a full-length 90-minute illusion show to benefit the Musselman High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. He said the show will feature large illusions, audience-interactive magic, mind-reading and a grand finale.
“There will be a closing effect so amazing you have to see it to believe it. And you still may not,” Orsini said.
The 1999 Musselman graduate caught the magic act bug early. As a child growing up in Bunker Hill, he tagged along with his mother while she indulged in her craft hobby. On one such excursion, he found himself mesmerized by a magician performing card tricks.
He asked his parents for a book about magic tricks as well as a magic kit and soon enough, 7-year-old Orsini was performing close-up magic. But his fascination soon fizzled.
“When you are that little you can only do so many tricks and you are only doing them for your family,” he said.
Along came David Blaine and Orsini, then a college student, said his interest was rekindled. He picked up some supplies from a magic shop during a visit to Atlantic City and began teaching himself magic.
Billed as a magician, illusionist, stage hypnotist and mentalist, Orsini performs his stage show for charities, groups, parties, fairs, sporting events, festivals, corporate or college shows and pageants. He said his tricks are mostly old magic with a new twist and that are reminiscent of magic from his idol, David Copperfield and others of decade’s past, before tuxedos, Orsini notes.
While his popularity and success has taken off over the last several years, Orsini said his motivation remains the same.
“I want to suspend your disbelief. I want you to forget your problems and to think that I did impossible things and that maybe you can too,” he said.
Saturday’s show starts at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance for adults and $7 for students. Advance tickets are available in the school office. Tickets are $12 at the door.
Later this month, Orsini will perform in Charleston at the Speaker of the House dinner and for the United Way at the Clarion in Shepherdstown. Orsini also has a new monthly show beginning this month, called “Tricks of the Mind,” which will be performed once a month at Historic Jordan Springs in Virginia, beginning March 22 at 7:00 p.m. Orsini said the show is an evening of intimate magic and mind-reading, limited to just 50 guests per show.
Nevertheless, Orsini said his performance at Musselman Saturday will be a special one for him.
“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s the same stage I first performed my first illusion show back in the fall of 2010,” he said. “While we had a great audience and the show was very well received back in 2010, I’ve really improved as a performer since then. I’m hoping to have a great crowd again, especially since we are raising money for a great cause.”
For more information, visit Orsini’s website, sinimagic.com.