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Filed under Features, Misti Meads

Owenhouse escapes jaws of death during show

— Illusionist entertains with magic tricks, live tigers at the Chester Fritz Auditorium

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Illusionist Jay Owenhouse performs his tiger Shekina. Photo courtesy of thelever.com

Illusionist Jay Owenhouse mesmerized his younger audience with his magic acts and illusions, but a slow pace made its members lose enthusiasm Saturday at the Chester Fritz Auditorium.

Performing his first time at age 14, Owenhouse continues to show his passion for magic on stage and prides on encouraging younger audiences to get involved like him.

In 2008, Owenhouse received “Best Touring Family Show in Asia,” which explains his focus toward a younger audience.

Owenhouse’s own family is a large part of the show. His youngest daughter Christina, age 9, performed her first time ever at the show on Saturday.

She did a great job, even though her hair got stuck in the box she was trying to disappear out of.

This only caused a slight delay in the trick, and she disappeared and reappeared with the same amount of energy.

Owenhouse’s sons John and Peter help run things behind the scenes of the show, and his eldest daughter Juliana is a regular “magician assistant” in the acts.

The illusionist began his show with small tricks you could see in almost any magic show. I felt bored at the beginning of the show, but when the two Bengal Tigers came out I got more into it.

Owenhouse climbed in a box and disappeared, then a few moments later the tiger appeared.

He let the tiger out of a cage and only had her on a small leash. I was nervous, until Owenhouse explained that his family raised both tigers and in their backyard.

The most suspenseful act of the entire show was when Owenhouse attempted to break a world record.

Harry Houdini held the record for escaping from a straightjacket in less than 90 seconds while being held upside down by his ankles. Owenhouse did not break his record on Saturday night.

Owenhouse was upside down in a five-strap straightjacket. There was a twist, however, as Owenhouse announced that if he didn’t make it out in time he would be faced with the “jaws of death” —  a knife contraption designed to stab every important organ of the human body.

Owenhouse made it out of the straight jacket with one minute and 43 seconds on the clock and the “jaws of death” went off only a few seconds later.

The audience was completely silent and it was super suspenseful because the “jaws of death” slammed shut earlier than expected.

After Owenhouse’s attempt, he slowed down his acts and started involving more children as volunteers. He would ask for volunteers and all of the children would stand up and wave their arms around hoping to get chosen.

The show concluded with the most surprising trick of the night. Owenhouse drove a motorcycle in a box on stage, then disappeared.

Just seconds later he reappeared at the side of the audience on the motorcycle, where he rode through the crowd.

This act was the most convincing of all. Even I was confused as to how he appeared that fast and out of nowhere.

Overall with the quality of the show, prices of tickets were fair. If you chose to sit near the back, tickets were $31. Front tickets were more expensive at about $65 per ticket, but some of them were offered backstage tours of the show.

I chose the cheaper route and was still able to see everything happening on stage.

I would recommend this event to families, especially ones with younger children. The children seemed to get the most out of the show.

Ultimately, I would give this show a 4 out of 5 stars only because it was slow paced at times and some of his tricks were meant for younger children. The tigers and the Houdini act was the best excitement of the night. It was a good family-friendly show.

Misti Meads is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at misti.meads@my.und.edu.

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Owenhouse escapes jaws of death during show