‘The Amazing Max’ at Stamford’s Palace Theatre
Max Darwin grew up in a house filled with magic tricks and juggling props. Today he’s known as “The Amazing Max,” and will present a high-energy, interactive and all-around silly magic show at The Palace Theatre in Stamford Sunday, Jan. 26.
It’s the kind of magic that’s fun for all ages. The Palace says Darwin earned his moniker, “The Amazing Max,” not only for his extraordinary skills as a magician, but for the way he entertains adults while keeping children spellbound at the same time.
Darwin does this by combining magic and comedy. He makes objects appear and disappear, and generally defies the laws of physics inches from theatergoers’ faces. He shared more about his background, and what the audience can expect, in an email.
“When I was born my parents were street performers,” said Darwin, who grew up in Washington, D.C. “They put me in their act when I was in diapers. GUARANTEED APPLAUSE CUE! Growing up my dad would push me in my stroller to the local magic store . . . and the man behind the counter would perform everything in the store for me. I loved it.”
As a kid, Darwin said he never imagined being a magician was an actual occupation. “I was just obsessed with playing cards and seeing people’s faces when they experienced a great trick. Filling someone with wonder and seeing them smile is addictive. I went to high school to study theater at The Duke Ellington School for the Arts in D.C., Dave Chapelle’s alma mater as well, and then got an intensive (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in acting from the Acting Conservatory at SUNY Purchase.
“I had little time to work, but found a way to get hired on weekends at small events and eventually at very large ones, performing both intimate close-up magic, a stage show, or both. I said yes to every job at first, no matter how small or large, to force myself into finding a way to make every situation work. Experience is the best teacher!”
Darwin realized early on there was something very special about working with a roomful of kids, or a roomful of kids and adults. “The ability to make a roomful of kids laugh is a very special thing. And every adult present wants to share in that moment, too.”
Over the years, the joy he experienced doing those shows began to shape his style of performing. “There’s nothing more magic than the twinkle in a kid’s eye when they’re comfortable on stage and don’t know what’s about to happen.” His favorite part of each show “is always when a kid surprises me onstage with their innate super-funny ability to BE A KID. It’s effortless. Kids really do say and do the darnedest things. Especially when they’re comfortable onstage.”
Performing seemingly impossible acts while giving kids the forum to be comfortable onstage “and then allowing the magic to happen in their hands” is always a thrill. When their face lights up and they get the applause, it’s not only a highlight for him, he said, it’s a chance to create a meaningful moment in that child’s life. “And that’s the hope. That through my art I’m able to inspire and empower the audience by showing them that they have more power than they might realize. Showing them just how amazing they already are.”
If Darwin’s face seems familiar, it may be that you’ve seen him on television as host of Nickelodeon’s “Game Farm,” or on “Brain Games,” on the National Geographic Channel. He’s also acted in such TV series as “FBI,” “Girls,” and “Blindspot,” and appeared in commercials, including one for Verizon (with DJ Khaled).
Darwin’s instructional magic video, “Magic in Minutes,” teaches kids ages 5 and up “how to fill their everyday lives with wonder” and perform magic with ordinary objects found at home. His Stamford show is recommended for ages 3 and up, and is part of the theater’s “Playtime at the Palace” series.
The Palace Theatre, 61 Atlantic St., Stamford. Sunday, Jan. 26, 12:30 p.m. $12.50. 203-325-4466