Brad Ross thought it was so cool when his mother hired a magician to perform at his 5-year-old birthday party that he decided to become a magician.
Ross received a magic kit, took after-school magic classes and as a high-school student, he in turn became the magician at children’s birthday parties.
“I fell in love with it,” Ross said in a Monday phone interview from Bakersfield, Calif., where he is on tour with the Disney Live Mickey’s Magic Show.
Ross, 27, is in his fifth year as an illusionist and host with Mickey’s Magic Show that performs at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at the ShoWare Center in Kent.
Rather than individual birthday parties, he now performs on stage in front of thousands at arenas around the world. He has been to Asia, Europe and South America as part of the Disney Live stage show.
“I grew up a Disney kid so this is a perfect fit,” said Ross, who was born and raised in New Jersey and still makes his home there.
Kenneth Feld, the Disney Live producer from Feld Entertainment, heard about the magic show Ross headlined at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, watched the young magician perform and decided to hire him.
“He (Feld) asked me to come out on the road with Mickey Mouse,” Ross said.
Ross is in the middle of an 87-city tour across the United States that started in September and ends in April. Despite working so many shows, Ross enjoys working the numerous towns.
The stage-show adventure features Disney characters and magicians, using themes from legendary Disney films. You can watch as Cinderella’s fairy godmother transforms Cinderella’s rags into a beautiful ball gown in a split second; the enchanted dancing brooms of Fantasia sweeping, and Aladdin’s Princess Jasmine becoming airborne.
Ross is the illusionist who levitates Jasmine 10 feet in the air.
“That always gets a great reaction,” he said.
At times, Ross stops to remind himself how lucky he is to have such a fun job.
“I did thousands of birthday parties and would dream about the opportunity to feel the heat of the spotlight and hear the audience cheer,” Ross said. “Now that it has come true I try to stay humble and appreciate the opportunity. I do stop on stage and see Mickey Mouse on my right and Minnie Mouse on my left and realize I am living out my childhood dream.”
In 2010, Ross received the International Magicians Society Merlin Award for Best International Family Entertainer. The previous winners include David Copperfield as well as Siegfried and Roy, magicians Ross watched and learned from as he grew up.
“I was extremely humbled and honored,” Ross said about the award. “To be recognized by your peers is one of the greatest honors. I was blown away when they came to me and told me I had won the Best International Family Entertainer award.”
Ross makes sure he keeps families entertained by bringing audience members on stage at each show.
“That’s one of the my favorite ways to keep the show fresh is working with the audience,” he said. “The illusions are the same each show but the audience reaction, I love to see the reactions up close.”
The magician will look for volunteers from the ShoWare Center audience.
“I look for kids who are smiling and excited,” Ross said. “Some kids are shy and just want to watch. Others want to participate. I try to determine who’s who. It’s all random. I look for that extra twinkle in the eye.”
If you go
What: Disney Live Mickey’s Magic Show
When: 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Jan. 22
Where: ShoWare Center, Kent
Cost: $48, $30, $25 and $18
Tickets: www.showarecenter.com or call 253-856-6999