People use that old cliché, “It was a magical night”. Well, it was a magical night last night for myself and 16 other people at Leone’s restaurant in Norfolk.
“At the Illusionist’s Table” with magician, illusionist, and mentalist Scott Silven, is sold out for this year, but the Virginia Arts Festival may bring this unique event back again next year, so let me tell you a little about it, without giving away any secrets.
We walked into Leone’s about a half hour before the show was scheduled to begin. It gave the guests time to assemble, have a drink, and speculate on what was about to happen. At 7:00 pm, we were called by name and lined up in a certain order to make our way up the stairs to a private room.
I thought we would be seated at small round tables, eating dinner, while a magician went table to table, maybe doing card tricks, maybe even pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Boy, was I wrong.
This was something very different. We were led into dark room, lit only by candelabras. We were seated at one, long table, elegantly set, with branches weaving down the center of the table and a glass cloche with something covered up inside. There was a branch hanging from the ceiling. There was something that looked like an alter in the corner with another candelabra and a small easel. It was beautiful. It was mysterious. We were 17 strangers who were about to have some kind of collective experience. It was very quiet, except for a little nervous laughter.
In walked Scott Silven. I’m just going to say it. He is a beautiful man. He’s young, tall, with cheekbones to die for and dark hair that is cut into a modern day Sassoon. He took his place at the head of the table and started weaving a story in his slight Scottish brogue.
The story was about his grandfather, a box, an old watch, a red thread and the deep, dark woods. It was a story about his destiny, about how we are all connected, and about the magic that is all around us.
Scott Silven is a natural storyteller. As he tells the story of how he became fascinated by the mysterious and unexplainable, he does the mysterious and unexplainable, right in front of you, so quickly and seamlessly, that it happens before you have a chance to even realize what just happened.
He leaves the room as the first course of dinner is served. This is a good thing. It gives everyone at the table a chance to catch their breath, ponder what had just happened, and get to know one another. Scott had predicted we would all become connected and that’s exactly what happened. Seventeen strangers had something to talk about, something quite marvelous.
The wait staff brings in a small glass of Scotch with the first course, but ask you to wait and share it with Scott. Scott returns and describes the Scotch in such a way that even this non-Scotch drinker tries a sip. The Scotch pairings go along with the story and the magic. Without giving away too much, let’s just say that the whole table was soon transported to a clearing in that deep, dark woods with a bonfire and images in the flames, and that’s not the Scotch talking.
Scott leaves as each course is served. Strangers talk and become friends. Scott returns and speaks about “connecting with each other and connecting with our senses”, and then does things that seem impossible. I am sitting one foot away from him and they still seem impossible.
When he has finished with the final “experience”, which involves that covered item in the cloche, and all of us connected by a red thread, we take a collective breath together. The lights come on. There is a lot of “How did he do that?” and “That was absolutely impossible.” Scott is waiting by the door to shake hands, take photos and say goodbye to every one of us.
Scott Silven sells out wherever he performs. Now I know why.
For more information on upcoming events for Virginia Arts Festival, go to vafest.org