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The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Internationally renowned illusionist performs at Lenfest Center for the Arts

Rick Thomas brings his international tour Mansion of Dreams to Washington and Lee University
Zuhaira Noor
Rick Thomas brought a helicopter on stage for the performance.

Disclaimer: The author of this article is a co-chair on the Lenfest Selection Committee that invited Rick Thomas to perform.

A sold-out performance by Rick Thomas brought the Lexington community together on May 1. After 15 consecutive years in Las Vegas, Thomas took his Mansion of Dreams show on an international tour, making a stop at Lenfest Center for the Arts.

“Mansion of Dreams” aims to take the audience to “an extraordinary fantasy world” with “the most intriguing, innovative and mind-blowing illusions,” according to the program. The interactive, family-friendly performance included visual and audio effects as well as dancing and props.

“I really enjoyed the performance. The entire act was very visually stimulating with some incredible props and routines,” said Zuhaira Noor, ’27. “I found it all to be ‘magical’ indeed.”

Thomas invited the audience to different rooms of his mansion that symbolized periods of life. A few attendees observed the illusions on stage and had a close-up view of the props. Thomas also engaged with children in the audience, inviting them on stage to assist in different magical tricks.

Rick Thomas brought over 20 members of the audience on stage to witness illusions. (Veronika Kolosova)

“Rick Thomas just makes everything seem so grand,” said Anna Udassi, ’25. “Throughout the show, I felt like I was part of something huge.”

Besides the illusions, a two-hour-long performance included a video break about Thomas’ passion for tigers whom he performed with for 20 years and a motivational speech about following your dreams.

During the intermission and after the show, Thomas and his crew were raising money for wildlife preservation by selling tiger plushies.

Even though Thomas doesn’t perform with tigers anymore, he managed to bring a helicopter on stage at the Keller Theatre and made one of his crew members disappear mid-air.

“Thomas said that it was going to be something the audience will remember for the rest of their lives. That feeling of watching someone vanish mid-air is incredibly exhilarating,” said Udassi. “Truly magical!”

While in Lexington, Thomas engaged with the community through two outreach events. On May 30, he went to the Rockbridge County High School to address the students and share some of his magical tricks with them.

Thomas also visited a spring term class on the psychology of magic and deception, taught by Professor Jacob Gibson in the cognitive and behavioral sciences department. Gibson invited the illusionist to speak to the class since Thomas’ performance type is “more old-school and stage-based” in contrast to a “newer and more close-up style of magic” that Gibson focuses on.

“It was great to have someone who has been in the magic community for so long to provide my students with a different perspective,” said Gibson.

The illusionist showed students effects that weren’t part of the main show later that night, described the process behind creating them and shared his journey as a magician.

“My students all attended his performance that night and it was great to see the things he talked to us about exemplified in his show,” said Gibson. “Rick is a great performer, and we were happy to have him.”

The Illusionist of the World won in a campus-wide vote facilitated by the Lenfest Selection Committee, an organization that determines potential performers to come to W&L. In the 2022-23 voting, Thomas got 190 votes out of 273 total with both undergraduate and law students represented.

Next year, Lenfest is bringing “Afrique en Cirque,” an acrobatic show by Cirque Kalabante, that draws on the Nyamakala tradition of circus practiced in West Africa.

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Veronika Kolosova, A&L Editor

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