Bill Blagg's magic and illusion act these days includes a Hoverboard zooming across the stage -- a far cry from his start making quarters disappear as a kid growing up in Zion.
The star of "The Magic of Bill Blagg" -- playing the Paramount Theatre in Aurora Saturday -- got his first taste of the power of magic when he was 5 and received a magic set from his grandparents. Making a quarter disappear was the first trick he mastered.
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"The Magic of Bill Blagg"Location: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, (630) 896-6666 or paramountaurora.com
Showtimes: 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28
Tickets: $25 for children 12 and younger, $35 for adults
"I showed my father the trick and I could see he was shocked," Blagg said. "He genuinely didn't know where it went, and from that moment on I was hooked."
He kept working to find new tricks and different ways to surprise his family and friends. Then, for his 8th birthday, he was given a choice: a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party or a trip to Chicago's Magic, Inc. (a store that still exists today).
"I never had another birthday party again," Blagg said.
Blagg turned pro at 19 after winning a national magic contest.
Today, he specializes in "grand scale magic and illusion" such as the latest addition to his tour, the Hoverboard.
Blagg has been working on his Hoverboard idea for 13 years. Until eight months ago, however, the technology was not available to make the board and incorporate it into his act. His first real spark of motivation for it was watching Marty McFly whiz through the streets of 2015 in "Back to the Future: Part II."
Fans can see it in action Saturday at the Paramount. Besides the eye-popping nature of a Hoverboard onstage, Blagg will also showcase his signature illusion, which he calls "The Dancing Handkerchief."
Without giving too much away, he jokingly describes it as "having better moves than Justin Timberlake."
Now more than ever, Blagg feels magicians have a very difficult job to accomplish.
"With computers today, you can make anything look real. It's our job to keep up with the visuals from the movies, but do it in front of a live audience," he said.
He has been working to accomplish that task by completing signature pieces of his act based on scenes from movies like "The Prestige" and others.
During performances, Blagg strives to just be himself.
"I'm a natural jokester, and I enjoy entertaining people," he said. "I'm not trying to be some persona I'm not when I'm onstage."
Blagg sees himself continuing to tour the country "from Boston to Austin," and when asked about maybe traveling to Las Vegas, he emphasized that it has to feel right.
"I've had offers to go to Las Vegas, but I've passed," Blagg said. "I don't want to be a show that people stop by and see with a free lunch buffet."