The State Theatre was packed on Wednesday night, eagerly anticipating the performance of the magician Rick Thomas. I, admittedly not the biggest fan of magic, was curious as to whether Thomas would live up to the billing as one of the greatest illusionists in the world today.

It’s clear to me now why such performances continue to fill theatres and why there is an enduring appeal to stage magic. I left pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment it brought not only myself but also the rest of the auditorium, who seemed to all leave with beaming smiles on their faces.

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The show is titled The Mansion of Dreams, and it is a show in every sense of the word. Everything from the lighting, visual effects, costumes, and choreography exudes a spectacular and grand feel. It’s as if the entire production has been plucked directly from the Las Vegas strip, which is where Thomas first earned acclaim, thrilling audiences for an impressive 15 years.

Thomas is still every bit a master illusionist when he takes the stage today. His ability to work the crowd is exceptional, keeping both adults and kids in the palm of his hands through every act. The show offers a variety of magic’s greatest hits, including card tricks, disappearing acts, grand levitation illusions, and more. But it still has moments that will leave even the harshest audience members wondering how it’s possible to do what they’ve just seen. But the show is also much more than just a collection of tricks.

Thomas also emerges as a master storyteller when transitioning between the acts as advertised and anecdotes that will leave you chuckling from his impeccable comedic timing. The only thing that maybe slows the pacing down at times is a bit too much reliance on the use of the projector. But what truly sets this show apart is the exceptional level of audience participation, a rarity in today’s stage show landscape. The crowd plays a pivotal role in several illusions, which adds a welcome warmth to the show.

The show’s underlying message revolves around dreams and the importance of never giving up on your aspirations. Rick Thomas could’ve tapped out long ago, yet it’s clear he is a magician at heart who has a genuine love for the art and a desire to entertain his audience like it’s his very first show. In doing so, Thomas convinced me that the real magic lies not in figuring out how the illusions are done but in allowing yourself to suspend belief and just enjoy the performance for the spectacle that it is.