By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
Jamie Leigh Womach likes to be “squished,” which makes sense when you consider her career. She’s lead assistant to magician David DaVinci, who’s also her husband. The pair will visit BancorpSouth Arena from Thursday to Sunday, April 11, as part of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “Illuscination.”
“In the opening, I get squished in a matter of probably less than a second,” Womach said during a phone interview from a tour stop in Salisbury, Md. “It’s probably my favorite because of the gasps from the audience every time.”
DaVinci enjoys the audience reaction, too.
“It’s so startling and there’s a pyro burst,” he said. “You look over and someone’s popcorn is still falling.”
“That’s great,” Womach added.
This is the 21st century, when some of the magic seems to have gone out of magic. A television series features a masked magician who explains the secrets behind the tricks.
DaVinci and Womach take that as a challenge.
“Every trick, I like to be super-fast because then the audience doesn’t have time to process it or analyze it,” Womach said.
In short, the goal is to return the wonder to magic.
“We have two types of people,” DaVinci said. “You have people who go because they want to be fooled, and the other person is somebody who knows how it works or wants to know how it works.
“Either way, they come, and our goal is for them to leave with an appreciation for the art, more than just strictly, ‘How did they do that?’” DaVinci continued. “That’s why we try to squish her faster and faster.”
As the name would imply, “Illuscination” includes illusions and tricks throughout the show. DaVinci and Womach have their own segment, and they also deliver “oohhs” and “ahhs” between other acts.
“For example, I do a straitjacket escape over lions, which leads us to Brian McMillan, our lion trainer,” DaVinci said. “We kind of take on that role of ringmaster.
“We’re a one-ring circus. It’s very intimate. With this presentation, it’s a very high-speed performance. Everything flows so well from act to act.”
Womach said animal lovers will have plenty to enjoy. You already know about the lions. You also can expect to see birds, miniature horses, a regular-sized horse, three Asian elephants and house cats.
That’s right, house cats.
“A cat climbs up this tall pole and jumps onto a pillow that the trainer is holding,” she said. “House cats – you don’t think they can be trained, but these are phenomenal.”
One of DaVinci’s favorite acts is “where these two beautiful ladies go up hanging by their hair and perform a whole aerial act.”
Technically, “Illuscination” is a three-hour show, but there’s more entertainment to be had if you’re interested.
“Make sure to bring the entire family to the free, all-access pre-show,” DaVinci said. “Everybody that has a ticket can come an hour early and get to meet all of the entertainers in the show.”
You could win an elephant’s footprint, or get a chance to have one of DaVinci and Womach’s parrots sit on your shoulder.
“Definitely come, and sit close to the ring,” DaVinci said, “and be ready to be entertained.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the arena
– What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “Illuscination”
– When: 7 p.m. Thursday; 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m.
and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 11
– Where: BancorpSouth Arena, Tupelo
– Tickets: $12, $16, $20, and a limited number of $26 VIP seats and $35 VIP Gold seats. Opening night tickets half price, not
including VIP seats. Tickets available at BancorpSouth Arena box office, Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000, and www.Ringling.com.