Reza’s tricks are a real treat

Courtesy photo  Reza Borchardt’s show has come a long way since he began perform illusions at the age of 6.

Courtesy photo
Reza Borchardt’s show has come a long way since he began perform illusions at the age of 6.

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What: Reza the illusionist

• When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday

• Where: McKenzie Theatre, EOU campus, La Grande

• Details: Tickets are $5 in advance for EOU students, $7 at the door. Tickets are $10 in advance for general admission, $15 at the door. Tickets are available at both EOU Bookstore locations and at La Grande Stereo and Music.

• Official website: http://www.RezaLive.com

• Promotional trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t4ejXsXJxs

• Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rezalive

• Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rezaillusionist

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By Jeff Petersen

Go! staff

Sometimes people search many years to find their calling in life.

Not so for Reza Borchardt. The Brookings, S.D., man knew he would be an illusionist at age 6. He began by doing simple shows during elementary school.

His career-defining moment, his big break, came at age 15 when he got a chance to perform at the Ozark Mountains tourist destination of Branson, Mo., sharing the limelight with Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings. Borchardt did three shows a day, six days a week for a summer.

Then he went back to high school.

After finishing high school and some college, he hit the road and has never looked back.

Reza, as he goes by now, 12 years after the Branson summer, will give performances at McKenzie Theatre on the Eastern Oregon University campus in La Grande on Friday and Saturday. Both shows begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $5 in advance for EOU students, $7 at the door. Tickets are $10 in advance for general admission, $15 at the door. Tickets are available at both EOU Bookstore locations and at La Grande Stereo and Music.

Despite doing shows from Acapulco to Atlanta, from Los Angeles to New York City, Reza still admits to being, and is proud of being, a small town boy. He still calls Brookings, population 22,000, home.

“I like spending my down time around family and friends,” he said.

It helps that he has a state-of-the-art facility there to develop illusions and a studio for editing the music and creating the light show.

Grew up in a small town

He said growing up in a small town was both a blessing and a curse.

“In those days, there was no YouTube, and you couldn’t just type in the word ‘magic’ and see all sorts of possibilities,” Reza said. “For the most part, I had to invent my own way,  to take the hard path and because of that became much more creative and original.”

He continued to perform regularly during high school and college.

“All of my teachers and professors were understanding and accommodating,” he said. “Unlike most students, I had already determined my profession, and they were supportive. They respected my dream and my goal.”

Even after performing before sold out venues in New York and Los Angeles, even after performing on the MTV program “Buzzworthy” and making one of its cast members, Christopher Drew, disappear, he still occasionally does the first trick he ever saw, called blinking rings.

“With everything else, I have a more original, modern approach,” he said. “The show is evolving every show, every season, keeping up with where the audience, the culture, the technology is going.”

But it’s not all over-the-top high tech. The biggest reaction from the audience, Reza said, is often to the most simple things in the show.

“You take everyday objects that people are familiar with and do something incredible with that,” Reza said.

The future’s so bright …

So what does the future hold? He said he will continue with the nomadic life of the illusionist until it stops being fun.

“The reward is the audience,” he said. “Their reactions during the show fuels it entirely. The opportunity I get to meet people after the show in the meet-and-greet situations and see the wonder in their faces. That’s priceless.

“A lot of the material I do takes a lot of time to develop, a lot of personal energy, a lost of cost,” he said. “Without that audience energy, it would not be worth it.”

Every once in a while, Reza thinks back to that first show he performed at age 6.

“I hope all the recordings of that show have been destroyed,” he said, laughing. “But it did help me set out on an original path. The adults then would say, ‘I don’t know how you did that.’ Looking back, I’m pretty sure they did know how, but they gave me a lot of support and that, in turn, gave me the incentive to go out and practice another trick.”

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