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Have to believe there is magic: Ed the Wizard’s performances full of illusion and enchantment

  • Ed The Wizard performs a Harry Potter themed magic show at the Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange on Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Ed The Wizard performs a Harry Potter themed magic show at the Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange on Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Ed The Wizard performs a Harry Potter themed magic show at the Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange on Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Ed The Wizard performs a Harry Potter themed magic show at the Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange on Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Ring and a string close magic by Ed the Wizard. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Coin trick close magic by Ed the Wizard. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Ed the Wizard. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Optical illusion by Ed the Wizard. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Ed Cope has had a smorgasbord of jobs in his life. He’s been a toolmaker, chef, aircraft mechanic, beekeeper, rock climbing instructor and white water rafting guide, among other professions. But he says wizarding is the best thing he’s ever done.

Cope, more commonly known as Ed the Wizard in entertainment circles, makes his living performing stage magic for people of all ages at fairs and library and school events.

“When I do a performance for schools or libraries, I introduce myself as Ed the Wizard. And I grew up as Ed the brother, the cousin, the friend, the dad, the uncle ... knowing some magic,” he says.

If you think Ed looks like a cross between Albus Dumbledore from the “Harry Potter” series and legendary figure Merlin, that’s what he is aiming for. He says he is 458 years old (though he is quick to say he still hasn’t grown up) and performs 80 to 100 shows a year.

Being a magician was a childhood dream for the Attleboro native, and 17 years ago he was inspired to finally go for it, thanks to the release of J.K. Rowling’s beloved series.

“That’s when I realized I wanted magic to be a full-time part of my life, and I started to restudy magic from the books I had, the books I gave my kids and books from the public library,” he says.

He went full-time in 2006.

That same library, Wheeler Memorial in Orange, was the site of an Ed the Wizard performance on July 27. At least 85 children and adults packed into the program room for a magic show paying tribute to — what else? — “Harry Potter Week.” (“Harry and Potter and the Cursed Child” was released July 31.)

Ed, like magicians often do, regularly asked for volunteers and was visibly patient and gentle with his young helpers. The guest of honor turned water into ice and made a magic potion disappear inside a cauldron.

Children’s Librarian Jason Sullivan-Flynn said the children’s eagerness to participate was a reflection of how well Ed engages his audience.

“He was extremely popular. The reaction was as I expected, which was very enthusiastic. I’ve seen him run this program before and he’s improved upon the Harry Potter aspect of this particular magic show,” Sullivan-Flynn said after the performance. “What I’ve seen of his work is that it is always evolving and he’s always changing it, just a little bit, honing it. And that was evident today. It was a great success.”

Sporting his wizard’s hat and special tunic, Ed performed a short exclusive show for The Recorder at his home on West Main Street in Orange. He placed string through a ring and magically separated them in his hand.

He also had a prediction card that accurately predicted which card the reporter would select during a three-card trick.

His close-up magic took first place at the 2013 Unknown Magicians and Clowns Convention Awards in Manchester, N.H.

Ed says the wizard lifestyle allows him time to work on the home he bought in 1987. He recently finished painting one side a color he calls “butter” — perhaps a subconscious homage to butterbeer, a popular beverage in his favorite book series?

Robin Shtulman, his wife since 1997, says she worked as a school librarian when the first “Harry Potter” was released.

“I was able to see first-hand how excited kids were and how undaunted they were by (the books’) size, because they were excited about it,” says Shtulman, now the assistant director of Athol Public Library. “The time was really right for him to pursue magic because it was in the air.”

Shtulman also says she gets a front-row seat to the joy magic and performance brings her husband.

“When you live with someone who does what they love, someone who is happy, it’s a wonderful thing,” she says. “It makes for a happy home.”

Ed the Wizard says he spends much of his time marketing himself, writing press releases and reviewing questionnaires he sends to clients after a show. He also works closely with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and helps various programs fill out applications for MCC grants to host one of his events.

Ed performs shows throughout the Northeast, traveling in the trusty Honda Element he purchased in 2008. He says the green vehicle is a popular photo opportunity, with his younger likeness painted on it and his website (EdtheWizard.com) on the back. Ed says mileage and other expenses are included in his fees. The license plate reads “Mage,” the singular form of Magi, the wise men of their day.

Ed the Wizard can be reached at 978-544-8092. More information and the wizard’s schedule can be found on EdtheWizard.com.

You can reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 258.
On Twitter: @Domenic Poli