Magic, comedy delight audience

March 28, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An enthusiastic crowd cheered on the performers at the 17th annual Comedy and Magic Spectacular on Saturday, and at the same time helped continue the fight against child abuse.

Sponsored by the Chambersburg Exchange Club, the performances drew large crowds to The Capitol Theatre.

David Oliver, voted best magician in a recent "Best of Boston" survey, delighted the audience by pulling live birds out of scarves.

John Cassidy, a balloon sculptor from Philadelphia who has performed in New York, Las Vegas and Hollywood, holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the most balloon sculptures completed in one hour. On the Capitol stage, he blew up balloons and made sculptures at a frenetic pace. A few deft twists created a dog complete with a leash and bone, a flower with stem and petals, and a roadrunner.


Bob Sheets of Washington, D.C., performed intricate rope tricks. Sheets said that when he was a child, he had a neighbor who was a magician who did a disappearing silver dollar trick for him, but wouldn't tell him how it was done.

"Six or seven years later, I figured it out," he said.

The three-member Kohl and Company from Baltimore made its third appearance at the show with its comedy and magic routine.

Laura Stoops, 11, attended the show with her father, Perry Stoops of Scotland, Pa., and her friend Tabitha Little, 10. Laura said she liked "the balloon person" best. "He was funny," she said.

Tabitha agreed. "I liked how the balloon guy could blow the balloons up really fast."

Perry Stoops said he probably would come back next year.

"It's very good," he said.

Others in attendance included members of the Special Olympics swim team from Shippensburg, Pa., who were treated to balloon sculptures by Cassidy after the show.

Holding a balloon starfish, Pete Seiler, 23, said the show was "excellent," and that his favorite part was "saluting the flag."

Adam Aponte, 21, said he liked "the balloon guy" the best.

Erin Hockersmith, 24, agreed with Aponte. "I liked the balloon act," she said.

Hockersmith said she has been swimming for 11 years, and has won first- and second-place medals, "and sometimes thirds." She competes in all swimming strokes, she said.

The team, composed of youth from Chambersburg and Shippensburg, will compete in meets at Messiah College, Altoona, State College and Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania this year.

Proceeds from Saturday's show benefit the E.S.C.A.P.E. Parent-Child Center of Franklin County.

The center provides parents with the education, support and role models they need to create a safe and nurturing home. The center offers parenting classes, new moms home visitation, parent aide services and parent support groups to families in Franklin County.

Child abuse is the leading cause of death for children ages 4 and younger, according to information put out by the center.

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