Gabriel’s Broadway magic comes to MontBleu |

Gabriel’s Broadway magic comes to MontBleu

Before entering magic, Joseph Gabriel planned to be an artist.

“I was heavy into art,” said Gabriel, who is performing through Sunday at MontBleu Casino Resort and Spa. “You couldn’t get a pencil out of my hand. I was going to be a famous artist up until the age of 9, when I found my first magic book in the school library.”

“World’s Famous Magicians” was written by Walter B. Gibson.

“Each chapter was about a famous magician in history and their most famous tricks and shows, and their life on road. It fascinated me.,” he said.

Also a well-know magician, Gibson wrote about Harry Houdini, Dante, Howard Thurston and Harry Kellar. A revised edition would include Gabriel, a sleight-of-hand magician who gained fame with seven appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and long Broadway run.

“When the New York Times comes out with a review, that’s when your show will sink or swim,” said Gabriel, who was from nearby New Jersey. “When the New York Times loved my show, all of a sudden the floodgates opened. I had celebrities come to the show every week.”

And the show that was slated to last three months continued for a year and a half.

World Magic Award’s Stage Magician of 2009, Gabriel performs with his wife Katalin, a native of Budapest, Hungary, the same year’s Cabaret Magician of the Year.

“She’s been doing magic since she was 5 years old,” Gabriel said about Katalin. “She saw my magic show in Las Vegas, and one of the acts had a birthday party afterward. We spoke for three hours and have spoken every day since.”

The couple celebrated their fourth anniversary Christmas Eve in Tahoe.

A pair of showgirls will accompany the magicians in the family friendly performances. Gabriel also is assisted by about 15 birds, which after magically appearing fly over the audience. But there is no need to bring an umbrella. Parrots do not “go” while flying.

Gabriel also performs with marionettes, a skill he learned from one of the all-time great puppeteers, Barclay Shaw.

Shaw, the longtime Folies Bergere headliner, died in 1992.

“I do Barclay’s routine he taught me,” Gabriel said. “It is a dying art. There are very few marionettes in the world.”

Before Gabriel brought his Broadway show to Japan, Laughlin, Nev. and Lake Tahoe, he had some downtime.

“I was still on East Coast and phone rings and gentleman says ‘Will You hold for Paul Newman?’ ” Gabriel said. “At first I thought my buddies were pulling a prank. (Newman) had saved the review of my New York show for close to a year.”

Newman requested Gabriel perform at a special private event at the late actor and his wife, Joanne Woodward’s, Connecticut ranch.

“They converted an old barn into a theater with folding chairs and a stage,” Gabriel said. “They put on a show for children who were either terminally ill or stricken with severe illness.”

It wasn’t Gabriel’s first private appearance before a celebrity filled crowd.

He performed at the White House during President Reagan’s last big shindig before leaving office.

Afterward he met Reagan and his longtime actor friend Jimmy Stewart. Both Reagan and Stewart both said their first professional onstage appearances were as magician’s assistants, proving that not just anybody can make it as a magician.

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