Northeast Times

Tricked Out Tour comes to Prince Music Theater

Justin Will­man has one sweet job.

The host of the hit TV show Cup­cake Wars on the Food Net­work, Will­man is also known in some circles as mas­ter ma­gi­cian and il­lu­sion­ist. He’ll be bring­ing his “Tricked Out Tour” for one night only to the Prince Mu­sic Theat­er on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.

From his monthly sell-out shows in the back of a trendy L.A. com­ic book shop to huge theat­ers and mu­sic ven­ues across the coun­try, Will­man has be­come one of the busiest per­formers in Amer­ica. And it all star­ted when he was just 12 years old and out to im­press a bunch of girls.

”When you’re young and don’t quite know how to im­press them, you do many strange things,” Will­man ex­plains.” In my case, I de­cided to ride my bi­cycle while wear­ing roller blades. In­stead of im­press­ing them, I fell and broke both my arms.”

In a cast for six months, he was in­trigued by a ma­gi­cian who would come to the hos­pit­al peri­od­ic­ally to en­ter­tain. One day, Will­man’s or­tho­ped­ic sur­geon sug­ges­ted he try some card tricks as a way of gain­ing back dex­ter­ity in his hands.

From then on, he says he was hooked. But as he spent days in bed at home, he also got hooked on game shows, es­pe­cially The Price is Right with TV host Bob Bark­er.

“I thought he had the greatest job in the world, and I dug the idea of be­ing a host in whatever ca­pa­city. That was al­ways in the back of my mind. So ma­gic and host­ing seemed to go to­geth­er hand in hand. And here I am today.”

Be­sides Bark­er, Will­man says he was in­flu­enced by the likes of Steve Mar­tin, who used ma­gic as a spring­board to do­ing something else, and Johnny Car­son, who star­ted as a ma­gi­cian and then ended up as a very suc­cess­ful talk show host.

“Men like these were my main her­oes since they were able to use their abil­it­ies in ma­gic to go on to big­ger and bet­ter things.”

His own com­edy-flavored ma­gic has earned Will­man, 33, fre­quent ap­pear­ances on many TV shows, such as The El­len De­Generes Show, The To­night Show with Jay Leno and oth­ers. But he says it was his ap­pear­ances on The Ra­chael Ray Show that caught the eye of those in charge of Cup­cake Wars.

“I worked as a cor­res­pond­ent on Ra­chael’s show for a couple of years so I think the per­cep­tion was that since she’s a celebrity chef I could prob­ably host a cook­ing show,” the St. Louis nat­ive re­calls. “Wheth­er right or wrong, here I am. And so far it seems to work. I’ve hos­ted about 114 epis­odes so far.”

Oth­er game shows for Will­man in­clude host­ing Scrabble and a new, high-tech ver­sion of Win, Lose or Draw for the Dis­ney Chan­nel.

Ten years from now, Will­man wouldn’t mind fol­low­ing in Car­son’s foot­steps as a man who could have many jobs but still be on stage and tour whenev­er he wanted to.

“Right now, I’m pretty close to do­ing what I want to do forever. I’d like to reach more people and have more people want to come see me in per­son.”

Today, Will­man con­cludes, some people identi­fy him as a ma­gi­cian and oth­ers as a game show host.

“But whatever people see me as, I just want to be seen as an old-fash­ioned show­man, like Houd­ini or Car­son or P.T. Barnum. These were men who could en­ter­tain people no mat­ter what they were do­ing. And that’s how I’d like to see my­self.”

For times and in­form­a­tion, call 215-893-1999. ••

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