The Incredible Jan Rose and Alba transform magic into a women’s game | Performing Arts Feature | Chicago Reader

The Incredible Jan Rose and Alba transform magic into a women’s game 

The two magicians headline the Chicago Magic Lounge this month.

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James Murphy

Magic has long been known as a boys' club. It's estimated that only between 5 and 10 percent of professional magicians are women. But now a new generation of female magicians is poised to seize the spotlight and stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.

Throughout the month of February, the Chicago Magic Lounge will feature two female standouts. The Incredible Jan Rose graces the stage from Thursday, February 14, through Saturday, February 16, for the "Valentine's Weekend Signature Show" with her husband and fellow magician, Danny Orleans. Alba will be the featured act for the "Anniversary Show," which runs the following week from Thursday, February 21, through Saturday, February 23.

"Magic has been around forever" says Lesley Stone, COO of the Chicago Magic Lounge, "and women have always been here. It's time that they start being recognized." Historically women operated in the roles of assistants, prepping props or being sawed in half though they were often just as skilled as the men.

Rose met Orleans at an audition in 1983. After touring together for more than six years, they got married. Their mentor, vaudevillian Eddie Fields, retired and passed his secrets on to the young couple. Over their 32 years of marriage, they have personalized the act, traveling and performing across the globe together, even lecturing at a magicians' conference in Italy. Their act features mentalism—one of the most rare and difficult types of magic because it creates the illusion of another person reading your mind. "I am excited about the enthusiasm and education and reimagining of magic," Rose says, "people understanding and respecting magic as an art form. It feels good to the soul and spirit."

When Alba began studying at a magic school in Buenos Aires, her father initially discouraged her hobby. One day, he came to see her perform at a restaurant. At the end of the performance, he told her he now saw that she could change lives through magic, that he was proud of her, and gave her his blessing. Steadily her career evolved until she received her big break at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, an opportunity she compares to an opera singer performing at La Scala in Milan.

Alba's specialty is sleight of hand. "I like to do intelligent magic. With intelligent premises. I always think that my audience is full of better-educated people than myself who came to share their time with me. I feel honored that they decided to give me a chance to entertain them and show them something new. "At every show, she takes the time to connect with the audience. "I use magic techniques as a tool to communicate what is inside me. Hopefully it will resonate with the audience," she says, "and we can make magic together."   v

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