Chris McBrien had a childhood any kid would long for.
His parents worked at Disneyland and his grandfather was a magician.
McBrien, 41, of Lisle performed at the Fondulac District Library Thursday afternoon. He mixed magic, storytelling and ventrilquism to provide entertainment to a crowd of adults and children. The crowd filled the Youth Services area in the basement at the library.
Prior to the performance Sue Elder, Youth Services librarian, asked the children in attendance what they got for Christmas. There were answers of several technology-based gifts such as DSI game systems, Nooks and ipods as well as more classical Christmas gifts like a doll and coloring book.
As McBrien set up his staging area, he said, “I really like to make people laugh.”
He did not disappoint in that regard. There was much laughter throughout his one-hour show in which he promoted reading.
“I like reading books because they teach you lessons in real life,” he said.
During his routine, McBrien brought out dragon, shark and bird puppets and performed his ventroliqusim act. He also had several children from the audience volunteer to participate in different magic acts.
One of the acts involved Elder who wore a special belt with a “straw” on one side and a funnel on the other side. McBrien had Luke Majors, 7, of East Peoria pour water into the funnel while Hailey Waldron, 8, of East Peoria caught the water in a bucket on the other side. It was as if the water went through Elder’s body.
After the show, McBrien was able to talk about his life. His family is from Galesburg, but McBrien was born in California.
He said he got interested in magic because his grandparents were in vaudeville.
McBrien’s parents met at Disneyland in California. As a toddler, McBrien went to daycare at Disneyland. He said his grandfather, Don Williamson, and his parents knew Walt Disney. In fact, he said his grandfather sold an ice cream cake idea to Disney.
At times, instead of going to daycare at Disneyland, McBrien went to spend the day at the car dealership where his grandpa worked. He took a lot of advice from his grandpa.
“He told me if I went to school and took classes I could do (magic) like my parents did,” McBrien said.
McBrien explained that a magic show is just like a business because it has to be marketed. He said he followed his grandfather’s business model and it worked. For the past 15 years, he has been performing magic acts. He said he averages about 500 shows a year.
In addition to performing at libraries where he promotes reading, he also performs at schools where he present an anti-bullying program. McBrien said he writes all of his own jokes.
Page 2 of 2 - “I really just love it ... plus you feel you’re motivating kids,” he said.
For more information, visit www.magicstoryteller.biz/