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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, May 16, 2018 1 year ago

Award-winning magician to perform at The Grove

His name may be Songster, but the performer at this month’s Groove at the Grove is all about magic. See him perform at the Grove this Friday.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

Kick off your weekend with an evening of magic, comedy and family fun at the Groove at The Grove event Friday, May 18.

The event takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Grove shopping center at 4750-4757 The Grove Drive in Windermere. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the event.

James Songster of Magic and Mayhem will be performing at the event. An award-winning magician, Songster, 52, has been inciting laughter and wonder with his performances for about 25 years around Orlando, throughout Florida and other locations.

“I moved to Orlando to be a magician,” Songster said. “I got here very late in 1991 and started performing in 1992 not knowing how it would develop or what it would turn into. Here I am all these years later having the time of my life.”

When Songster first came to the area, he only expected to stay for a few years. He ended up staying longer because the type of magic he performs matches well with Orlando’s tourism market.

“What was really a turning point for me was the type of people that come to Orlando for vacations — specifically families — because I’m very in tune with performing for family audiences,” Songster said. 

Songster added he always has had passion for theater and took up magic as a theatrical hobby when he was a child. 

“My very first magic trick — I remember going to the magic shop at Disneyland in California ... and the demonstrator behind the counter brought out this little stack of nickels,” Songster said. “He showed me this little stack of four nickels piled on top of each other and he took what looked almost like a bottle cap — it was a brass cap — that just fit over the stack of four nickels. He would put the cap on top of the four nickels and he would tap it and … turned them into dimes.”

After graduating high school, Songster joined the U.S. Navy. While serving, he inadvertently honed his craft performing shows for service members and families.

“The Navy is probably why I became a magician as opposed to any other art form,” Songster said. “Long before I got out of the Navy, I was performing magic simply as a theatrical exercise and a way for me to feed my desire to perform. … By the time I’d come out of the Navy, I had accidentally become a magician.”

Songster will not be gracing the Groove at The Grove stage alone. His furry friend, ChaChing the rabbit, will join him. 

“If you want to have a successful career performing family magic, you darn well better have the world’s cutest bunny rabbit on staff,” Songster said. “We always make time after any show that we do for everybody to come up and say hi. … Some shows have what they call talkbacks where the cast comes out and talks to you after the show. We call our talkbacks after our shows ‘Chit Chat with ChaChing.’”

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science. Got a story idea? Contact Eric at...

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