Magician wows kids with performance to remember

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Max Darwin of New York City receives a group hug from the Tri-Cap Head Start preschoolers after performing a magic and comedy show at the school in Jasper on Monday. 


JASPER — Roald Dahl wrote that those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. But you didn’t need to search hard to find magic at Tri-Cap in Jasper on Monday morning.

Max Darwin entered the building with little more than a tissue-sized box filled with coins, cards and tiny knickknacks. He left with hugs, smiles and what one assistant teacher described as a lasting imprint on the children he met.

Darwin, a New York City-based professional magician and certifiable live wire, blew minds throughout a mini magic show Monday. The interactive performance was laced with comedy and an inspirational message to all the 4- and 5-year-olds in attendance that amazing things come with hard work.

“I firmly believe there’s a little bit of magic in everybody,” Darwin said after the performance. “Whether that’s self-confidence, or really being excited and into something and loving it. That’s magic.”

At one point, Darwin — who goes by the stage name “The Amazing Max” — folded a seemingly empty cloth bag, squeezed it from the bottom up, and — poof. Out popped a chicken egg. The room of preschoolers crooned out a chorus of oohs and aahs.

Tri-Cap Head Start preschooler Olivia, 4, assists Max Darwin of New York City during a magic and comedy show at the school in Jasper on Monday.

“We saw even the shyest of children open up throughout the performance,” said Ali Helming, an assistant teacher at Tri-Cap’s Head Start program. “And they participated. And that’s something that we saw that was really intriguing.”

Darwin also made coins fall from the air, impossibly guessed one attendee’s chosen playing card in an elaborate illusion and orchestrated an impromptu dance party before leaving the building.

He fell in love with the wonder of magic as a child, and has now professionally performed for about 20 years. He also has television credits on hit shows as an actor and a magic consultant, and tours the country with his live show.

Trained in theater, Darwin takes that background into account when crafting his magic shows by constructing a clear beginning, middle and end, rather than just churning through a litany of illusions one after another. He strives to ensure attendees remember him and the mystique of his show.

“I want the kids from this show to leave saying, ‘That was the funnest assembly or funnest thing I’ve got to do,’” he said. “And even if they don’t verbalize that, for them to think it. And I also want them to think how much fun it was to be together, and that they did it together.”

Some magicians have personas that suggest they can do things other people can’t, Darwin said. He doesn’t subscribe to that way of thinking. Volunteers were included in each part of his show, leaving an even greater impact on them.

“I think it’s more powerful to let the magic happen in their hands,” Darwin said.

The Jasper Community Arts reached out to Tri-Cap — a Healthy Families America affiliate that has a preschool program — late last week to inquire about the possibility of bringing the traveling magician in for a performance. Darwin also led a magic show Sunday night at the Jasper Arts Center that sold more than 400 tickets. He was in line to bring his talents to Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center on Monday, but flu restrictions forced a change in venue.

Tri-Cap Head Start preschooler Ryan, 4, claps during Max Darwin's magic show at the school in Jasper on Monday.

“The shows we do at the arts center are great,” said Arts Director Kyle Rupert. “But either the timing doesn’t work out, or there is a cost involved with that.”

He later added: “Whatever these kids have going on ... whatever they have going on, at least for the time that they’re here (with Darwin), everything’s right. They can forget about everything else.”

Helming wants the young children to leave the experiences with a strengthened sense of wonder in the world. She believes it will be memorable for them for years to come.

“I think that this is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” she said. “When I think back to when I was little and the performances at school, in general, I always remember those.”

Darwin said he is just Max, and the amazing parts of the show are the kids who come and his wife and producer, Christine Cox.

More information about him and his show can be found online at

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