Magic and illusion, fantasy and grandeur make up the life’s work of Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company, a magic troupe that’s cast its spell over audiences for 35 years. With the death of its visionary founder, Cesareo “Marco the Magi” Pelaez, in March, the company reflects on its past and contemplates its next act.
At the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre in Beverly, the lobby is quiet. The stage is dark. The seats are empty. The curtain has just gone down for the last time on a magic show that’s thrilled audiences here for 35 years. There were rope tricks and levitations, glittering costumes, clowns, and live animals.
“It becomes this ever-changing, fantastical landscape,” says David Bull, a.k.a magician Le Grand David. “It’s like traveling to an imaginary place.” Bull was only 22 when, under the tutelage of Cuban-born magician and teacher Cesareo Pelaez, he made his debut as Le Grand David. It’s a role he’s embodied ever since, as he and the rest of the company lived out Pelaez’s vision to create a magic company with its own permanent home. “Cesareo’s idea from the very beginning was to buy a place, stay there, and have the world come to us,” Bull says.
And the world did come to them, year after year. Even as Pelaez aged, even as his health failed, even as he could no longer perform himself, he watched the shows from the wings in his wheelchair, still directing, perfecting his vision. With his death in March, the troupe is at a crossroads. Will the show go on? Bull is unsure. Perhaps it will, in another form. Only time will tell, as Bull and the troupe “come up for air” after 35 years. “If it is the last show—this version, this rendition—it feels good,” Bull says. “I feel a great sense of completion and accomplishment that this is the pause that refresheth.”
In image third below Jane Graham, poses with Ann Surath, and Ann’s dog, Pooky. After suffering a stroke more than a decade ago, Graham still works at the theater every day, helping with concessions, arranging fresh flowers, assisting backstage, and appearing onstage during the show. She credits the people at the theater with helping her through the difficult years after her stroke. “I don’t know how I could have gotten through-especially those first months-without the help and support of my friends in the magic company,” she says. “Just being around this amazingly creative group of people has kept me young at heart.”
Photos by Jared Charney