'Extraordinist' Karges brings magic to Sheldon stage
Craig Karges was about 10 years old when he first saw the movie that would influence his life's work: "Houdini."
Tony Curtis starred in the 1953 film as magician/illusionist Harry Houdini, whose career ended with his tragic death on Halloween.
"It still sends a shiver down my spine," said Karges, who will perform his own version of a magic show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Sheldon Theatre.
Karges — known worldwide as "The Extraordinist" — combines the art of magic/illusion with the science of psychology and the power of intuition to create an extraordinary evening of live entertainment, Sheldon spokesmen said.
In his own words: "We send a shiver down your spine, raise the hair on the back of your neck and make you laugh at the same time."
Karges is particularly pleased to be performing in Red Wing's historic theater during his favorite time of year.
"Because of the nature of what I do, Halloween has always fascinated me," he said.
"Fall is my favorite time of year," he added, and historic buildings are his favorite type of place for a performance.
In a smaller, historic theater like the Sheldon, Karges said, "There's an intimacy that makes the show go over better."
He would know. During his 37-year career he has appeared more than 5,000 times in 22 countries on four continents and in all 50 states. In addition to being an award-winning entertainer, he is a nationally recognized speaker and an author who has been seen more than 40 times on nationally televised programs.
Audiences worldwide are mystified when tables float, minds are read, metal bends and other mysterious things happen in front of their eyes.
His toughest audiences, Karges admitted, are probably the corporate groups of engineers, people in medical fields, accountants and others with analytical minds.
"They appreciate what I do, but they are more skeptical" than, for example, students on college campuses, where he got his start.
Not that he is deterred by skepticism. Karges has always responded to that type of challenge with an offer: Prove that he uses stooges or confederates from the audience to accomplish his demonstrations, and he'll donate $100,000 to charity.
In recent years, he added "hidden electronics" such as microphones or zoom cameras to the list of forbidden equipment.
It will be clear to the audience from the start of the show that selection of people to join him on stage is totally random. Often, he noted, volunteers who have been selected will be able to choose others in the crowd to also participate.
Karges acknowledged that he likes to watch how people react to the show, especially audience members who start out as hesitant but develop a strong urge to come on stage when they see what is happening there.
People up in the balcony will have a chance to get involved, he said, and there will be moments when everyone in the audience can play a role from their seats.
And because the show is Oct. 28, he plans "a couple of special Halloween performance pieces."
Karges uses his unique abilities not only to entertain, but also to motivate clients ranging from AT&T to NASA to the Mayo Clinic.
"Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary results because we all possess extraordinary capabilities," he said. "We need to be reminded of that from time to time."
To convey that message, he created "Ignite Your Intuition," book and a presentation that shares memory techniques, tests intuition and teaches people to tap into their subconscious minds to enhance creativity.
His second book, "The Wizard's Legacy — A Tale of Real Magic," is a novel; and his third release, "Extraordinary Tales — Stories from the Road," consists of 24 short stories gathered from around the world.
Copies of the books will be available and Karges said he will autograph them during a meet-and-greet after the performance.
Tickets are $15-$25. Visit the box office, call 651-388-8700 or go online to www.sheldontheatre.org.