There were plenty of illusions and trickery onstage Sunday at the Arcada Theatre, but the emotion was 100 percent genuine.
The third annual Believe in Magic event, a fundraiser for the National Association for Down syndrome, brought professional magicians from around the Midwest to the St. Charles theater on Sunday. The entertainment was led by Carol Stream-based magician Paul Lee, a 35-year professional who performs more than 300 show a year. Lee opened up the show with a few of his own tricks, including one in which he made a cute little girl seem to appear onstage out of thin air.
The girl was Lee's niece Teagan, who was born with Down syndrome in 2007. Lee struggled to keep his emotions in check when he introduced her to the crowd.
"She is the reason I'm doing this today," he said.
During a quick interview before the start of the show, Lee said he was delighted to see hundreds of people streaming into the Arcada on Sunday.
"It's amazing," he said. "I'm so grateful for everyone who helped put this together."
In addition to performing his own tricks, Lee introduced the other acts, most of them magicians he has befriended over the years. The performers included Terri Lynn Mate, who works in the Batavia High School special education department; her husband, Ken Mate; Indianapolis magician Jamahl Keyes; and Trent Rivas, a magician from Des Plaines who taught himself magic despite suffering a debilitating cerebral vascular accident at birth.
The performers delivered classic magic tricks, comedy or a mix of the two. Ken Mate, for example, appeared to turn a fake magician's egg into a real one before everyone's eyes. Keyes performed a number of illusions while dancing to jazz and big-band classics. Rivas received one of the biggest ovations of the day after he appeared to make a silver ball float in the air above the stage.
"I can tell you that no one here has worked as hard as Trent has," Lee said.
Diane Urhausen, executive director of the Park Ridge-based National Association for Down Syndrome, said events like Believe in Magic are a huge help to the association.
"The fundraising is important, of course, but so is raising awareness," she said. "And events like this really help on that side of it. There are lots of people here today who aren't part of the Down syndrome community; they just love seeing magic shows."
For more information about the association, go to nads.org.