by Janet Gilmore
What does Halloween mean to you? Candy? Scary costumes? Decorations? More candy? Going to Stagecrafters Theater’s annual Halloween show to get some FREE candy, watch the kids’ costume contest and see what Dr. Magic will be up to this year? Dr. Magic? Who is this Dr. Magic?
The very mysterious Dr. Claudiu Dragomir Magic, who is rumored to be thousands of years old and to have gone to junior high school with Merlin the Magician just before the Pleistocene Era, appears at Stagecrafters Theater every Halloween to confound and charm the audience at the annual “Halloween Scary Stories” show.
Dr. Magic in real life is the handsome, talented actor and jazz pianist Jeff Ragan, graduate of Upper Darby High School and one of the stars at Stagecrafters. For the past 10 years Jeff has donated time to the kids of Chestnut Hill at Halloween, performing as his alter ego, Dr. Magic.
Now I know that last year Dr. Magic actually levitated the beautiful Robot Princess Alara on-stage. I saw levitation on TV when I was a kid and loved it. Such a useful thing to know how to do, maybe at school, the dinner table or at Sunday School. I thought that if I actually talked to Dr. Magic, the secret might be revealed.
I interviewed Jeff/Dr. Magic while he was catching a smoke in Stagecrafters’ parking lot, which surprised me. I was told he gave up the habit during the Renaissance. I asked him to stay in character to answer my questions.
Hi, Dr. Magic, it’s great to meet you.
Of course it is.
You do so many wonderful illusions. Did you learn them at school?
Yes. Dr. Magic has an honorary Doctorate of Chicanery from Raconteur U.
How did you learn to levitate people?
Levitation was taught to me many years ago by a Hindu fakir whose name escapes me at the moment. He escaped me, too — lucky for him. He owed me a lot of money.
Did you begin by levitating people?
Of course not, silly woman. I practiced with worms, balloon animals, snakes and clams. I prefer to practice with cats, though, because they always land on their feet (snorting laugh).
Can you levitate non-living things — like my car out of a snow bank, for instance?
No. Levitation requires the subject to be alive and breathing, you feckless female.
Does levitation hurt the subject?
Only if they land too hard, witless wench.
Did you ever levitate anyone and just leave him/her in mid-air? Were you ever tempted to?
There was an incident with a former employer, but I’d rather not get into that for legal reasons.
So, Dr. Magic, let’s get down to the bottom line. How much money would you take to reveal the secret of levitation?
Dr. Magic has no need for money, you cuckoo crone. However, he may be tempted with a Porsche Boxster GTS.
Do you have favorite magic tricks?
I love the classics of magic such as classic rope tricks, even coin magic. I would say the Linking Rings is one of the hardest illusions to make appear as pure and simple as it looks. I was given my first set of Linking Rings during the Second Crusade, and I am still learning new moves with them to this day.
Do you have any new, cool tricks for this year?
My newest illusion, which I may present this year, is the paranormal effect in which I will attempt to make contact with the spirit of a deceased Stagecrafters’ stagehand who haunts the theater.
Dr. Magic finished his second cigarette and looked at me. I had no more questions, and he is not a man for small talk.
Well, Dr. Magic, it’s been swell.
Of course it has, you mutton-headed matron.
“Scary Halloween Stories” opens at Stagecrafters, 8130 Germantown Ave., on Friday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 24, both 2 and 7 p.m. Free admission for children 12 and under.
Ed. Note: Dr. Magic is still working on making the cigarette addiction disappear.