Old-time magical fun at Aquarium of the Bay 

click to enlarge Mind reader: Timothy Noonan connects with audiences in his appealing magic show. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Mind reader: Timothy Noonan connects with audiences in his appealing magic show.

Timothy Noonan has got an old-style, amazing and fun magic act worth checking out.

Onstage at the Aquarium of the Bay, the show of illusions is an appealing throwback for audiences of all ages — tourists and even locals, too.

Nicely lacking big-screen videos, blindingly flashing lights and a blaring soundtrack, the San Francisco Magic Show is simply Noonan, friendly and dapper in a tuxedo, reading minds and performing old-fashioned tricks with ropes, hoops and a deck of cards.

He doesn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat, but he does pull off a few swell stunts with a stuffed animal, a baby raccoon.

A veteran of thousands of similar performances, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and later for years in Japan, Noonan doesn’t hustle or bark at the audience; he has a terrific, low-key, provocative tone.

Inviting theatergoers to “discover mysteries and see the world from new perspectives,” he actually offers viewers a time to think, reflect and connect with fellow human beings without the assistance of 21st-century devices.

He has a gentle way with adults and kids, who are a big part of the show. He calls on folks in the audience to select playing cards, pick words from random pages in books, think of numbers and pull personal items from their purses, and not tell him what they’ve chosen. Amazingly, and sometimes blindfolded for extra dramatic effect, he corroborates their contributions.  

At a recent show, he began one particularly mind-blowing trick by asking for two single-digit numbers — eight and seven were named — then, in an instant on a big pad of paper, wrote down a sudoku-style grid of numbers that added up to 87 in every direction: horizontal, vertical, diagonal and on the corners, too.

Noonan tells a sweet story about a vaudevillian who helped him get his start doing magic as a child; his rapport with youngsters, including one boy who did a great job dealing an invisible deck of cards, is apparent.

Before and after the show, Noonan greets visitors at the theater’s entrance, exemplifying yet another kind of magic that’s almost as special as turning several pieces of rope into one long strand without tying a knot.



San Francisco Magic Show

Where: Bay Theater, Aquarium of the Bay, The Embarcadero and Beach Street, S.F.

When: 4:30 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, 4:30 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: $15 to $25

Contact: (415) 623-5333, www.aquariumofthebay.org

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Leslie Katz

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