Magician puts Claremont under a spell

Michelle Annett Roldan
Staff Writer 

Magician Greg Van Holsbeck returned to the Claremont Forum Bookstore after a two-year hiatus with new illusions in his show, “Handcrafted Mysteries,” for a group of 15 on Oct. 27.  

Holsbeck previously performed in 2019 and 2020 at the bookstore.

“The magic doesn’t exist until somebody sees it,” Holsbeck said. “I can sit in my room all day doing card tricks, but until someone sees something impossible happen, it doesn’t exist.”

Luckily for Holsbeck, spectators were amazed by all the different tricks he had to show. Coin appearances, card tricks, word plays, and spotting the liar were all different tricks that the audience gasped and applauded when he concluded them.

“This was a really fun crowd with a ton of energy,” Holsbeck said. “They really absorbed everything and really felt like they were there for the ride which is exactly where I want people to be which is great.”

From the very beginning, the audience happily waited for Holsbeck to come up front. Everyone chatted and got to know one another with laughter and cheeriness. This then only increased as the show began. 

Audience member Gabriel Aquino from Pomona came out to the show because of his love for magic and its mystery. 

“It’s my first time hearing of him,” Aquino said. “Definitely coming back after a while so he can have new tricks you know.”

Accompanying Aquino was his friend Louise Ponla from Rancho Cucamonga.

“I like how intimate it was, it was very small, not overwhelming you know,”  Ponla said. “And he was very engaging, so I have to give it to him.”

Holsbeck interacted with Ponla in the crowd as he chose her to go up front for the first trick of the night. She let Holsbeck borrow an imaginary coin, which he then turned into a real one through his magic.

Like Ponla, every person in the room was selected to be a part of a magic trick in one way or another.

“That’s my favorite thing to do with magic,” Holsbeck said. “I am of the belief that magic is an experiential art form that to just sit and watch it is one thing, but when you feel like you are part of it, it is a whole other thing.”

Audience members agreed they appreciated being included in Holsbeck’s show.

Rudy López from Los Angeles said he was intrigued by every trick. He said he found himself enjoying it more because he was participating in it. 

“I think the audience participation engages you in a different way and it’s also a way of keeping it not just interesting, but also honest,” Rudy López said. “It’s not just him touching the stuff, so it creates more of a tangible real experience than somebody who is just putting on a show.”

Sitting with Rudy López was Rebecca López of Los Angeles, who was surprised with tickets to Holbeck’s show for her birthday. She exclaimed with excitement and joy from being one of the most asked audience members to participate in a magic trick. 

“This magic was very different from what I’ve seen,” Rebecca López said. “It was just fun being part of the show and being able to see what he was doing. And it creates that wonder, because you’re like wait I’m here up close, how did that happen?”

Michelle Annett Roldan can be reached at  

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Michelle Annett Roldan is a sophomore journalism major.


  1. Michelle Annett Roldan’s article discusses the intimate setting of Holsbeck’s show and how the audience felt included in his tricks.

    I agree that magic is more enjoyable when you feel part of the experience.

    It makes the tricks more intriguing and honest. Being a part of the show also creates a sense of wonder as you try to figure out how the magician did his tricks.

    I think it is excellent that Holsbeck includes the audience in his show and makes them feel like they are part of the magic.


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