It’s not every day that the average person can see a rare white Bengal tiger without taking a trip to exotic Southeast Asia or see a man suspended in the air in a straight jacket dangling between two 1200 pound metal jaws. However animal lovers and magic enthusiasts alike will be delighted to know that on Saturday Feb. 21st there will be a bit of magic in the air as “The Authentic Illusionist”, Jay Owenhouse , will be bringing his magical “Dare to Believe” extravaganza to Capitol Theatre for one night only.

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This worldwide touring sensation brings a phenomenal, spellbinding, edge of your seat experience where audiences will “Dare to Believe” as they not only witness magic but experience it firsthand and up close in the very intimate venue of Capitol Theatre. Jay Owenhouse delivers an event that will encourage audiences to suspend their disbelief and if at least for one evening, believe in magic again.

“We call the show ‘Dare to Believe’ because it’s about helping people suspend their disbelief and realize that anything is possible,” says Owenhouse. “As we get older we get a little more cynical and jaded. One of the things I love about this show is really creating this environment to inspire people. The show is a metaphor to help empower people to pursue their own dreams.”

Owenhouse has a passion for magic that has carried over from childhood and after graduating from high school he decided to turn his love for magic into a career. Owenhouse also graduated from Montana State University with a degree in psychology which he has used to help springboard his understanding of how magic affects the audience.

“It turned out to be very helpful to understand how the brain processes information so I think it was valuable,” related Owenhouse about his college experience. “If you think about what magic and illusion is it’s really based on perception whether its visual or misdirection, it’s not unlike the effects that are done in movies.”

Owenhouse was greatly influenced growing up by the groundbreaking special effects in ‘Star Wars’ and believes that Hollywood is finally starting to make magic relevant again in pop culture with recent movies like ‘Now You See Me’ making magic seem cool again.

“In my era growing up there was a lot of magicians and illusionists that traveled the country like David Copperfield and so growing up magic was part of the entertainment choice that you had,” says Owenhouse. “I look at my kids era growing up in the 90’s and by the time they were teenagers there wasn’t that choice in entertainment. A lot of kids growing up that are now college age have really never seen a live illusion show.”

With his “Dare to Believe” tour Owenhouse aims to rectify that with a show that is aimed at adults with the primary focus of making magic exciting while allowing the audience to feel like children again experiencing something new for the first time. Owenhouse is able to achieve this not only through skill and sleight of hand but by his obvious love and enthusiasm for what he does.

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Owenhouse relates that his show is really about the three things he loves the most starting with his family who does more than just offer moral support, they actually assist him during performances with his sons helping backstage and with sound and effects and his two daughters lending a hand on stage. The second thing that inspires Owenhouse is his passion for the art of magic and illusion and his show is a cross section of his favorite magic over the last twenty years. The final aspect of what drives Owenhouse is his love for animals which explains the presence of his twin Bengal tigers that he incorporates into his show to the delight of audiences.

“The thing I’m passionate about is my love for animals and so that really comes across in the show,” says Owenhouse. “I’ve raised tigers for twenty years and we feature two of my tigers in the show and they perform in the show appearing and disappearing.”

Owenhouse has raised and trained his twin Bengal tigers at his home in Montana where they live in a sanctuary built specifically to meet their needs. While they may be twins they are different colors as Sheena is a standard orange Bengal and her sister Shekinah is a rare Royal White Tiger.

For Owenhouse it’s not just about using his tigers for entertainment he also strives to create awareness about the dwindling population of tigers in the world and a portion of his proceeds from his show goes to support the organization ‘Rare Species Fund’ that works to protect endangered animals. Despite his love for tigers Owenhouse doesn’t forget the fact he is working with animals that are wild at heart and born to kill.

“The thing you always have to remember is that they can be highly socialized but they are wild animals and they do have instincts that really have never been bred out in captivity,” says Owenhouse. “They are created to be very violent killing machines that being said once you understand that it’s all about relationships.”

Although the thought of seeing Bengal tigers perform on stage would be reason enough to see his show Owenhouse also incorporates his love for illusion with his fascination with the iconic Harry Houdini and will perform a daring feat that would make even Houdini blush as he suspends himself in the air between two 1200 pound steel jaws held back by burning rope as he is forced to escape from a straight jacket before the jaws snap shut.

“Even though I have been hurt a few times doing it we decided to keep it in at least through the show in Salt Lake,” says Owenhouse. “It really is entertaining and dangerous but what makes it worth it for me is to just give something like that for the audience to experience. It brings back the feeling of what it would be like to watch somebody risk their life right in front of you.”

Owenhouse’s “Dare to Believe” tour will make its way to Capitol Theatre on February 21st for one night only with a matinee performance at 4:00 pm and an evening performance at 8:00 pm. Tickets start at $32 and can be purchased online at http://www.arttix.org/

a.clark@chronicle.utah.edu
@ChronyArts

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