Le Grand David

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Le Grand David and His Spectacular Magic Company was the longest consecutively running stage magic show in the world, it ran for 35 years. The show was the brainchild of Cesareo Pelaez, a Professor of Psychology at Salem University and a life time lover of magic. Pelaez, along with a group of friends, many who were past students, came together to purchase The Cabot St. Cinema Theatre in Beverly MA. in 1976. On Feb 20th, 1977, the first 'LeGrand David' Show debuted at the Cabot. Two hours of live stage magic with a cast that varied over the years to as many as 50+ performers and backstage people. The family-oriented stage magic show ran on most Sundays at the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre from late September to early June from 1977-2012. In the 1980s the company got together to purchase a second theatre in town called the Larcom Theatre and soon began presenting a totally different show of grand illusion and wonder.

The name Le Grand David, was actually the character name of David Bull who began as an apprentice to Marco in the early 1970s. Marco the Magi was the character name of Cesareo Pelaez. And 'His Own Spectacular Magic Company' comprised all the fellow artists and performers and crew. To the audience however they were truly all 'LeGrand David', which was pronounced 'DAH-VEED'.

The show itself found it's inspiration from the boyhood days of Cesareo Pelaez. As a boy in Cuba, his father would take him to see all the traveling magic companies that visited the island. Pelaez would see Chang, Richiardi Sr., Fu Manchu and many others. But it was the magic of Fu-Manchu that most impressed the young Cesareo. Other theatrical shows as well as music and dance had their influence on Cesareo and he soon put together his own variety show with neighborhood children. In a way, he was laying the groundwork for a dream that would eventually be realized in Beverly Mass.

In the early days of the production, everything was done in house. The costumes, the back drops and scenery, the props and illusions were all built, painted, sewed and made by the members of the troupe. Even on the rare occasion when they might purchase a prop, it was given the LeGrand David make-over. The attention to detail is breathtaking. The moment a person walks into the lobby of the Cabot Theatre they instantly know they are in a magical place. The ceiling tiles are all hand decorated, the walls are adorned with giant posters for the magic show, all hand painted by members of the company in the early days. In later years the majority of the painting work was done by Rick Heath with Cesareo's input on design. Each poster that promotes the show is it's own work of art.

The Le Grand David show always started the moment a person entered the lobby. The staff were all dressed in costumes, performers awaited them in the lobby to demonstrate feats of close-up magic, juggling and even puppetry. When the stage show itself began, there were instantly dozens of costumed performers on the stage moving in precise choreographed movements. When the two (sometimes three) principle performers arrived, Marco and David, the magic went into high gear. The opening of the show had dove productions, a mis-made illusion, productions of performers and other incredible feats and it was all done to music.

There were only three talking routines at the Cabot show which included, A Find The Lady Routine called 'Lady Magic' and 'The Floating Table' both presented by Cesareo and in the last couple years by David. The other talking routine was the finale which featured a story in rhyme presented originally by Webster Bull and then in later years by other cast members. The rest of the show was all done to music. In addition to the magic there was a Trumpet Solo by performer Johnny Lapo, Clown skits by Avrom Surath and Rick Heath who played Lil Av and Albert PingPong. There was a tap dancing segment and a barber shop singing number in the show as well. All in all a very vaudevillian type show with spectacle after spectacle to witness.

The show at the Larcom Theatre originally had the title 'Le Grand David In Concert' and it was a completely different show. The costumes were all different and the only illusion that was the same was the broom suspension, but even it had a completely different presentation. Cesareo was the only one who spoke during the Larcom show and his routines were always comedic in nature and always brought down the house.

The troupe took their first ever break during the regular season in Feb of 2012. A few weeks later, Cesareo Pelaez would pass away from congestive heart failure. The company however, resumed the show in May of 2012 finishing up their season with their final shows dedicated to the man whose vision of theatrical magic created a show that is now history. In the fall of 2012, the announcement was made that the company would not continue with the show for that season but was looking into the possibility of bringing the show back in the future.



References

  • Cover Genii 1980 August
  • Cover Genii 1984 January
  • Cover Genii 1986 January
  • Cover Genii 1987 May
  • Carteles de Magia published 1994 by LeGrand David (self published by White Horse Productions)
  • Life With A Magic Company published 1995 by LeGrand David (self published by White Horse Productions)
  • Variedades published 1998 by LeGrand David (self published by White Horse Productions)
  • There Will Be Wonderful Surprises by Avrom Surath 2007 (self published by White Horse Productions)
  • Wonderful Surprises by Avrom Surath 2011 (self published by White Horse Productions)
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