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By Dianne R. Davis
Photos by Dianne or Burt Davis
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Magician Jeff McBride's Wonderground is a delight.

First, anything with Jeff's name attached to it is bound to be not just magic, but magical.

The Wonderground is a monthly happening, an assembly of magicians performing their magic both on stage and up close. The venue for this enchanting evening is The Olive, a mediterranean eatery with deep comfortable sofas and conversation friendly seating, hookah pipes, belly dancers, and a bar, all in a softly lit main room with a mystical quality. You can dine on tasty Mediterranean food and enjoy the entertainment or just come for the show. Admission is only $10, way under priced for the value.

I visited the Wonderground in January and found myself seated next to no less experts in their fields than magicians Lance Burton and Mac King along with juggler Michael Goudeau. I spoke with Bill Voelkner, producer of both Mac King and comedian Vinnie Favorito and Paul Stone, producer of the Magic Theater at the Gold Coast. Most likely, there were others I didn't even recognize. But when all these guys turn out, there has to be a good reason. I suspect it is that they appreciate quality.

Magician extraordinaire Jeff McBride is everywhere on this evening, greeting people as they arrive, troubleshooting as someone must when a show has so many individual participants, smiling that great genuine McBride smile with its “wait til you see this” sparkle.

Then, at 8 pm., it's on with the show. Magic, magic, comedy with magic, and more magic.

Lee Hathaway who opened for Penn & Teller.

Lee earned this honor by fooling them on TV in front of more than 3 million people last August. Not an easy feat. Would you believe that Lee took a signed $100 bill from an audience member and it turned up in a walnut which was in an egg inside a lemon. I love magic.

Lee was followed by Master Diaz. Tim Wise, Bizzaro, and Jungle Josh. There was Brian Arkell and a featured performance by The Shocker. And Jimmy Fingers. Christian Diamond served as the MCEE.

Magician Michael Rovno

Then the action shifted to a small side room where close up magic is performed. You know, the kind that you think you could figure out if you were up close. Believe me, I sat in the front row and couldn't tell how it was done. But we love trying, don't we.

Bizzaro entertained with both close up and larger stage routines.

In the meantime, the belly dancers entertained in the large room. Then, I returned to watch more magicians on stage. (Regrets for those whose names I may have missed.)

And then there were the amazing balloon dresses. Entire dresses made of balloons. They were auctioned off.

Jeff McBride Dons Masks as part of his act

Jeff told us, “This is where the art and magic community lives.” Clearly, this is true and the audience members continued through the evening to applaud their gratitude for the performances. At the end of the show, there is an opportunity to add dollars to applause as they do pass the hat, explaining that the money goes to the performers.

According to its website,(http://www.vegaswonderground.com “ The WONDERGROUND grows from an artistic need for the Las Vegas performing arts community to create a life-enhancing expression of magical community and enlightened night-culture.”

It's always a pleasure to be with Jeff, such a talent.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at the Wonderground and will return to see both the same and new performers in this charming venue. I urge you to put the third Thursday of the month (February 16) on your calendar. It's entertaining, exciting, amusing, delicious, and more than reasonably priced.

Wonderground happens the third Thursday of every month. Doors open at 7:30pm at The Olive, (702-451-8805) located at 3850 East Sunset Rd., Las Vegas, NV. There is a $10 admission charge at the door.

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