A Magical Experience

How do you turn paper into money? Ask Norman Ng, the man who became a magician against all odds and just made Phillips Academy the 37th stop on his nationwide tour performing the “Norman Magic Experience.” Although he taught the audience a lot about being a magician, he did not reveal any of his tricks. Ng opened the show by turning five slips of paper into five $100 bills. He then asked Joey Atiba ’09, an audience member, to examine a sixth slip of paper to make sure it was real. He folded the piece of paper and, eliciting uproar from the audience, unfolded it into a $50 bill. He gave the $50 to Atiba saying, “this is what a $100 bill looks like after taxes.” This opening act foreshadowed Ng’s style of showmanship: performing stunning magic tricks that left audience members scratching their heads while maintaining an energetic, humorous atmosphere. Ng’s show was centered on audience participation. Student magician Jimmy Xu ’08 said, “A lot of his tricks were simple and really transparent. However, he did them energetically and dramatically enough to keep the audience engaged. He had remarkable showmanship.” However, even Xu was astounded by Ng’s second act. An audience member picked a slip of paper from a bag that had the name of an object written on it. Without looking at her paper, Ng drew her object, a bowling ball, on his sketchbook. Then, suddenly, a bowling ball fell out of his sketchbook. During one of his acts, he asked Chip Schroeder ’08 to go on stage. He then showed the entire audience a random card and asked them to put their hands up to their temples and hum. Next, Schroeder looked into a snow globe and guessed the audience’s card. Ng also taught the audience a great deal about being a magician. He said, “Ideas that seem impossible to you are just another opportunity to amaze for me… a major principle of magic is misdirection, or making you look where I want you to.” To demonstrate this principle, he invited Chad Hollis ’08 on stage and asked him to guess which hand held a wad of toilet paper. Although Ng kept his hands in front of Hollis’s face, when Hollis was looking straight at the audience, Ng threw the toilet paper behind him. Hollis kept guessing left or right, and the audience, which knew that it was in neither hand, laughed uproariously at him. Ng overcame substantial obstacles to arrive at his current status as a nationally-renowned magician. At age eight, he was astounded by a magician who made a red ball vanish and reappear inside his closed fist. This encounter sparked his passion for magic. Ng spent his high school years creating and refining performance ideas. He then moved to San Francisco where he started his own magic entertainment business, through which he eventually garnered enough money and popularity to travel the country performing his own hour-long magic show. Michael Yoon ’10 said, “[The Norman Magic Experience] was fantabulous. He took traditional magic and brought it to a whole new level. And, unlike serious magicians, he had a good sense of humor that lightened up the atmosphere.” Though popular, however, the show still needs refining. Ben Prawdzik ’10 said, “His tricks seemed too staged, and his jokes fell flat.” Malik Jenkins ’09 said, “It wasn’t as good as I had expected. His tricks were pretty standard and not all that cool. It was disappointing.” Norman Ng has certainly come a long way since his performance at a five-year-old kid’s birthday party, but he has yet to reach his full potential. His excellent showmanship makes for a humorous, energetic atmosphere, but he needs to create some new, more unique tricks.