By The Pittsburgh Current
Most actors are required to be a triple threat. Robert Ramirez is that, but there’s another talent he has that many others don’t: Magic.
“When I wasn’t booking auditions, I would try to get a gig in magic,” he says.
Ramirez tap-dances, plays piano and performs sleight of hand tricks in “Robert Ramirez: The Musical Theater Magician,” running from now until Jan. 5, 2020, at Downtown’s Liberty Magic.
Ramirez’s musical and magical interests began during his childhood and continued as he grew up. Ramirez began performing magic when he was 8-years-old after his parents divorced. In middle school, he picked up the flute, and then transitioned to musical theater in high school. He majored in musical theater in college. He took classes at Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles and worked for a company called the Imagination Machine, which promotes creative writing for children in California elementary schools.
Ramirez eventually starred in the national tour of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, In the Heights from 2011 to 2012. However, after he got off the tour, he couldn’t book an audition for more than a year.
“I had realized I’m going to have to create my own work if I want to get out of this little rut,” he says. “So I started doing more magic and I started doing weddings or I started doing strolling gigs when I could.”
Between working as a magic consultant on “America’s Got Talent” and booking gigs at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles and the Chicago Magic Lounge, Ramirez’s song-dance-magic show has taken the spotlight.
“Now in the last two years, I got to a point where now I have to set time aside to do a theater show, do a musical, and then audition for that show,” he says.
Although Ramirez has a comedy background, he says the comedic aspect of his show is just an added bonus.
“I don’t want to set that expectation because you may not get my brand of humor. Everybody loves magic, and there’s kind of not a ‘brand’ of magic. Either it’s going to feel whimsical and feel like magic or it’s not,” he says.
The evening also features a bit of magic history, which Ramirez says is based on his natural curiosity. He’s big on taking YouTube deep-dives on a variety of subjects, including math and science.
“Magic’s been popular for hundreds of years,” he says. “I think, when all of these historical events were happening in the world, what was happening in magic?”
Ramirez’s show feels hip and cool and pulls back the curtain on an otherwise secretive world. Part of this, he says, is because more magicians relying on creating their own tricks instead of buying them and incorporating social media into their magic.
“I think we have a huge generation of new magicians ready to demonstrate that we are doing something different and that the art form is in good hands,” he says.
Taking a page out of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book, Ramirez hopes to break the stereotypes of what it means to be a magician.
“When Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the show, In The Heights, he wrote a show that he wanted to see. He wrote songs that he wanted to hear. It had nothing to do with what was good. It had nothing to do with what other people liked” he says. “And so now all I do is I create magic that I want to see, something that I wish I was in the audience to laugh at.”