Who is Orson the Magnificent? ONE SHOW ONLY June 16 at Little Theatre

By Semmes Zazzara

A happy ending depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

For Lars Klores, local actor and magician, his story is nowhere near the ending.  He has just finished a run of his one man play Orson the Magnificent – The Magic of Orson Welles with the City of Fairfax Theatre Company and will bring his show to the Little Theatre of Alexandria for one performance only on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 3:00 PM.

Klores became interested in magic when he was a young boy growing up in the Annandale/Fairfax area. Back then he would go to the renowned Al’s Magic Shop in DC with his brothers.  The idea for this show began three years ago when Klores was preparing to audition for another play about Welles named Orson’s Shadow.  While he didn’t get that part, the idea was realized to write his own play, showcasing the magic that Welles loved.  It took him two years to write the show, which is an ode to Welles and his iconic ability to enthrall audiences with his captivating persona, commanding voice and, yes, feats of magic.  For the past few years Klores has been performing magic professionally and for the past ten years has been an actor in local productions as well.  The coming together of the two has resulted in a hybrid of play and magic show that keeps the audience on its toes for about 70 minutes.

Klores premiered his magical play at the 2017 Capital Fringe Festival (CFF) where attendance grew due to word of mouth and excitement from his audiences.  CFF was founded in 2006 and is the second largest unjuried fringe fest in the states.  Their goal is to be a “catalyst for cultural and community development”, according to the CFF website.

Actor and director Orson Welles loved magic the most and performed frequently throughout his lifetime.
(Courtesy photo.)

Once in the theater, the audience of Orson the Magnificent is immediately transported to a timeless, unidentifiable reality.  “The show begins in a netherworld.  The audience is never told where it is.  It could be after death – in purgatory or in Heaven.  It’s occurred to me that I guess what I’m doing here is the magic show he always wanted to do,” Klores said.

When Welles died of a heart attack on October 10, 1985, he was in bed typing.  According to Klores, who has done extensive research on Welles, the manuscript in Welles’ typewriter was for “The Magic Show”, an unfinished television special Welles worked on from 1976 until his death.  Twenty-seven minutes of the footage he had filmed was compiled after his death and screened at various film festivals, but the documentary has never been officially released.

Welles’ love of magic began at an early age.  When Welles was a young boy, his father, an amateur conjurer, introduced the young Welles to the “trashy vaudevillian world,” according to Klores, which resulted in Welles’ love of low theater.  However, Welles’ mother was a great Chicago socialite and through her connections Welles met Houdini who would imbue Welles with the love of magic and would be his first teacher of magic.

One of the tricks Klores performs in his play is Welles’ favorite – a trick with a piece of thread – and he does it exactly as Welles performed it.  “It’s touching for me because I feel closest to him performing this trick,” Klores said.   “If I feel like I’m close to him or doing him justice, it’s at this moment.”

Klores doesn’t take his magic lightly.  He is the current president of The Society of American Magicians (S.A.M.), which was founded on May 10, 1902 and which had Harry Houdini as a member and president from 1903 until his death on October 31, 1926.  The association gives magicians an opportunity to get helpful feedback from others who have a knowledge of magic.  According to Klores, “Magicians can’t really talk to the general public about magic.  The problem with magic as an art or avocation is that it’s a very solitary thing at its nature.  You can’t get helpful feedback from a friend because they don’t have the knowledge of the method.  And for non-magicians, once you know the trick’s method, it’s ruined.”

To prepare for the show, Klores prefers to sit quietly and imagine himself as Welles.  “Of all the roles I’ve played, this is the one I fall into most easily,“ he said. “Once I start reciting the script, it’s funny how comfortable I become almost instantly, but of course it helps that I wrote the thing!”

Klores doesn’t believe that magicians have any supernatural powers or abilities that allow them to perform the tricks, especially mindreading.  “You would be hard pressed to find a magician who believes in anything supernatural.  Orson had no belief in the supernatural or mindreading.  He did both, but it was magic. To me, when a performer or artist has used ingenuity to accomplish a miracle, it’s far more impressive than if they had used some innate talent like intuition. No performer goes out on stage and bets his paycheck solely on intuition,” Klores said.

From the Victorian drawing room vibe of the play, to the audience participation, music and storytelling, Klores has created a night of magic, mystery and history that is sure to thrill lovers of art of all kinds.  Don’t miss this opportunity to be transported into Welles’ and Klores’ magical world.  You may not want to return!  And here, we stop our story.