Magic At The Beach

by Dave on July 5, 2010

By Michael Short

Richard Bloch wants to try settling down.

He’s picked a corner of Sussex County to do exactly that.

For most of his life, this Washington D.C. attorney, toastmaster, corporate entertainer and MC has traveled the world to do what he loves. You might even say it’s been a magical experience.

That’s because Bloch loves magic, from the simplest card trick to the most elaborate of illusions. “This is a matter of the heart,” he said.

Bloch wears that matter of heart on his sleeve at the Dickens Parlour Theater in Millville. It’s a small, intimate theater that puts on magic shows for the entire family every night at 6:30 p.m. and rainy day matinees at 2 p.m. A second evening show may also be added.

The theater looks like a family parlor with a nod to the Victorian era and one of its’ greatest writers. Charles Dickens was an amateur magician who delighted in the simple joys of magic. “Dickens Parlour Theater recreates that Victorian era and Dickens’ own theater of fantasy. Those fortunate enough to be in attendance at the theater will sit in the intimate comfort of a 50-seat parlor, surrounded by the recreated majesty of Victorian England and treated to a 55-minute magical presentation by award-winning conjurors from around the world,” according to the Dickens Parlour Theater website.

Bloch or other guest magicians put on a show that can run the gamut from simple sleight of hand to mystifying act of magic. For the man who counts Penn and Teller and Harry Anderson (from Cheers and Night Court) among his friends, this is a chance to share one of the great joys of his life.

Magic, he said, can remind us of a simpler time when the world seemed younger and more innocent. Childhood wonder is lost too fast for most of us, but perhaps a bit of it can be reclaimed in a magic show when the impossible becomes routine. “I want to be able to suspend disbelief,” he said. “(We try to) create that fantasy we all experienced as a child.”

He has worked in Las Vegas, at the famed Magic Castle in Hollywood, on cruise ships and in other locales for years. He’s also written for Orson Welles, consulted with the Folger Shakespeare Theater and had a magic production business. Welles once called Bloch “an Edison of magic.”
He’s also invented illusions and his techniques or apparatus have been used by David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy and the late Doug Henning and Harry Blackstone Jr.

But Bloch has grown weary of traveling and carrying hundreds of pounds of gear for each show. “I was getting on a plane or a ship constantly,” he said. “So we thought we would build a little theater and have people come to us. . . . This is a long-held dream.”

“It’s a fun thing. We’re very excited about it,” he said. ‘My goal is to have everybody laughing the whole night.”

His fascination with magic began when he helped out at a local magic store after school and on weekends, starting as what he calls “the chief rabbit cage cleaner.”

“It started when I was seven. I walked into a magic store and I was just smitten. He (the store owner) asked about my experience and I thought experience, I’m seven-years old. So I lied,” he said. “I said ‘Well, I don’t have experience. But my dad is a really good magician.’ I remembered that I had seen a magic show the year before and the magician’s name was Ted Collins. So, I said my dad was Ted Collins. On the way out, I stopped and said I don’t know your name. And he turned and said ‘I’m Ted Collins.”‘

His wife of 44 years, who he describes as very understanding, even makes a brief appearance in his act. She is, of course, Miss Direction.
The theater has been in business for just over a week and the audience has been receptive. “They couldn’t be more supportive and enthused,” he said. “It’s been just incredible.”

The theater is located at 35715 Atlantic Avenue in Millville, approximately five minutes west of Bethany Beach. For more information, go to For advance tickets, call 202-364-3020.

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