Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local illusionist winging his way to Sin City

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Winnipeg magician Darcy Oake has conjured up his first paying gig in Las Vegas.

Oake, 24, has been signed to appear for a week starting March 15 as part of Vegas Magic Theatre, a new showcase with a rotating cast at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.

"This is a big opportunity," Oake says. "It's the entertainment capital of the world."

The illusionist from Linden Woods is the son of sportscaster Scott Oake and his wife Anne, a nurse.

The St. Paul's High School grad has been performing magic since he was 10. He spent about half of 2011 on tour, with gigs such as six weeks at a casino in Slovenia and a stint on a cruise ship that shuttled between Sweden and Finland.

In Las Vegas, Oake will be doing his 10-minute signature act, in which he makes birds appear and disappear. That means he has to transport eight doves and parakeets, plus a king pigeon, across the border.

A local veterinarian must issue permits for the birds, he says. Then an American vet has to meet Oake at the border, inspect the birds and approve their entry into the U.S. "It's a hassle... but I have it down to a science," he says.

He has shared hotel rooms with his feathered co-stars before, but in Vegas they can stay in his dressing room, he says.

Oake also announced that June 14 and 15, he has booked the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre to do three full-scale illusion performances as a benefit for the Bruce Oake Memorial Fund.

The Oake family has started the fund in memory of Bruce, Darcy's older brother and only sibling. The former Canada Games boxer died last March at the age of 25 after losing his battle with addiction.

The family's goal is to raise enough money to open a long-term alcohol and drug recovery centre in Winnipeg.

The illusionist says he turned down a two-month contract to do his bird act as part of a circus-style show at the upcoming Expo 2012 in South Korea. It's more important to concentrate on the "personally more rewarding" project for the memorial fund, he says.

Tickets will go on sale about two months before the shows at RMTC, he says.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2012 C2

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