Fenton Magician Ready to Get Inside Your Head
Bill Hoffman will perform mental magic show benefiting a new roof at the Fenton Village Players Playhouse.
Sure Bill Hoffman can pull a rabbit out of a hat, but that’s not as much fun as getting into someone’s head, he said.
The Fenton Township magician will put on a show Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 at the Fenton Village Players Playhouse, but he won’t be performing the average sleight of hand act.
His tricks will be sleight of mind in the mental magic show called Fact, Fiction and Fakery at its Finest and Funniest.
“When you do get in their head or read their thoughts, or place a thought in their mind, that’s the moment they realize they lost control. Something as a human you never lose control of are your own thoughts,” Hoffman, 31, said. “It rocks people to their core.”
In one trick Hoffman has four books on stage. He picks three audience members, one volunteer picks a book, the next picks a page number and the third picks a word on the page. Hoffman has the third person concentrate on the word, asks them a few simple questions and then writes down his guess (usually correctly) of what the word is.
The show will serve as a fundraiser for the Fenton Village Players and the proceeds will go towards replacing the roof on the theatre. The roof recently began leaking and is receiving much-needed repairs.
“It’s leaking pretty badly,” said show producer Pam Buerger. “They are working on it right now. We couldn’t wait any longer, so we are going to be looking at some depleted funds.
“We are very happy to have Bill and his show.”
Hoffman performed his first magic trick to entertain his family. The tricks then started to fascinate co-workers and friends, so he got a job at Encore Magic in Flint. He didn’t get paid, but he compares it to an apprenticeship of an electrician.
“I got paid in knowledge,” he said.
As an employee he had to be able to perform every trick available in the store. He continued to master the art and received a contract from Crossroads Village in Flint, where he performed 290 shows in a summer. He said being a magician was a natural progression from his performing arts and musical theater background.
“I didn’t have to go to Broadway and be a starving artist. I could stay in Fenton and travel,” he said. “It was a perfect mix and timing.”
He started performing for corporate gigs and doing children’s shows, but soon realized it was tough to haul around all the equipment for the performances. That's when he started doing “mental magic.”
“You ever been thinking of someone and then they call or you think of song and then it plays on radio?” Hoffman said. “Those are moments that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I take those moments and I create magic with them.”
An example of one of his tricks is one where he collects about a dozen random items from the crowd, maybe a wallet, or keys. He will then select a couple of people from the crowd to take the items away one by one. Before the items are taken, however, he will write down a prediction of the last item.
“It’s a little bit of psychology and a little bit of sociology and little bit that I’m good at what I do,” Hoffman said. “It shows you that every choice you make is yours, but I’m just influencing your choices subliminally and it’s really cool how it works.”
He also does a handcuffed suit coat escape.
The show is purely for entertainment. Hoffman doesn’t claim to have any psychic or spiritual ability. Audience participation is a big part of the show as Hoffman will request 30 random volunteers to come up on stage throughout the performance.
Hoffman performed magic full-time for several years, but now does it part-time. He works as a public safety officer at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, but still travels the Midwest to perform shows, sometimes in front of thousands of people at corporate outings.
“There is nothing better than getting a CEO up front who has control of that entire room and removing that control from him,” Hoffman said. “He doesn’t enjoy it, but the employees get a kick out of it.
“I don’t embarrass anyone. I make them the star. If I embarrass anyone, it’s myself.”
There will be two shows, both at 7 p.m., Jan. 27 and 28. Tickets have been selling fast. They are $12 and available at The UPS Store, Fenton Winery & Brewery or online at fentonvillageplayers.org. Tickets for Friday have sold out.