A Las Vegas-style magic show is coming to Brainerd, but don't expect Kevin Ridgeway and Kristen Johnson to pull rabbits out of a top hat.
Living Illusions is a two-person show featuring illusion experts Ridgeway and Johnson. The husband-and-wife team will perform a high energy comedic magic show, including special effects and illusions that will leave audience members scratching their heads.
"The show opens with me producing Kristen out of thin air," Ridgeway said.
Johnson is widely known in the magic field and has been labeled one of the top female escape artists in the world. She has performed on national TV and is the only female in the world to attempt one of Harry Houdini's most famous tricks, escaping the water torture cell. The trick involves locking Johnson's ankles to the top of a 300-gallon tank full of water, submerging her upside down and, miraculously, she escapes.
"She can be under water for one minute and 47 seconds on one breath," Ridgeway said of his wife's lung capacity. "The trick is mind boggling."
Living Illusions, a show featuring Kristen Johnson, an escape artist, along with her husband, Kevin Ridgeway, will be performed Saturday in Brainerd.
Ridgeway said Johnson is the only person in the world, including Houdini, to escape the water torture cell without having the tank covered with a curtain.
The water torture cell trick will not be performed in Brainerd, however, because the water tank the couple recently bought will not arrive until next week. For previous shows, Living Illusions rented a tank from Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Ridgeway said there will be plenty of other escape routines performed in Brainerd, such as "origami," a trick where Johnson is folded into a 12-inch by 12-inch box that Ridgeway pierces with three swords. In the meantime, Johnson disappears.
Although some of the tricks seem risky, Ridgeway said his wife was only hurt once, when she cracked two ribs trying to escape 13 falling spikes while handcuffed.
The show wraps up with a message about Christianity.
Living Illusions will perform 7 p.m. Saturday at Washington Middle School's Tornstrom Auditorium.
Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. Tickets are available at The Brainerd Dispatch, Bethany Bookstore, KTIG, the Community Education office or by calling 888-805-3398.
The show's proceeds will go to the sponsor of the event, Brainerd Area Youth Ministries.
"We share a Christian message with them after we build rapport with the audience and gain their respect," Ridgeway said. "We give people something to think about."
Life has not always been full of illusions and magic tricks for Ridgeway. He had a professional career and until he got married and decided he wanted to work with youth, he knew nothing more than a single card trick.
"I did magic as a kid. Most boys learn a card trick or two when they're young," he said.
He went to magic conventions and seminars and realized he wanted to become a professional. Despite discouragement from family members, he quit his job and created Living Illusions.
His first gig was a 6-year-old's birthday party.
"I knew if I could handle that, I could handle 1,000 people in a theater," Ridgeway said.
Last year Living Illusions was on the road for eight months, performing about 70 shows at venues ranging from theaters to churches to music festivals, such as Lollapalooza. In 2000, they performed at the Summer Olympics in Australia.
"We'll keep doing this until God leads us to something else," Ridgeway said. "But I really want to keep doing (the show)."
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