The Fifth AnnualSpellbinders International Festival of Magic returns to Reno, Nevada, November 16th - 18th, with unbelievable, mind-boggling feats of magic taking place all over Northern Nevada, from the very biggest stage illusions to intimate close-up miracles, and everything in between. And it’s all free!

The Line-Up

Not just the usual suspects.

All acts may be subject to change without notice.

Stuart MacDonald Wizard of Theatrical Phantasmagoria
Johnny Ace Palmer World Champion of Magic
Bob Sheets Your Crazy Uncle (If Your Uncle Actually Had Mind-Blowing Skills)

Stuart MacDonald

Like so many of the Gold Medal winners who appear at SPELLBINDERS, Stuart has won a lot of awards. He has won multiple Gold Medals from the International Brotherhood of Magicians as well as the Society of American Magicians. In fact, he holds the distinction of winning more awards in one international contest than any magician in history. The reason, no doubt, can be found in the foundation of his magic which is unabashedly hyper-theatrical. He weaves a story that is so compelling (and inexplicable) that the audience is sucked into his crazy, impossible, nonsensical, mysterious world before they know what’s happened to them. That’s what Penn & Teller said when Stuart appeared on the 4th Season of their hit show, “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” and Stuart took the title of the show as a direct invitation. Penn & Teller both freely admitted they could not imagine how he accomplished the extraordinary feats he presented and they had to confess-- he fooled them! It is no surprise that Stuart MacDonald wins People’s Choice Awards wherever he appears because, above all else, he is determined to entertain the audience with things they’ve never seen before.

Johnny Ace Palmer

Johnny Ace Palmer's achievements in the world of magic are legendary. When Johnny earned the title of World Champion Magician in 1988, he was the first close-up magician in history to receive that award, called the Grand Prix. Johnny received the award at the International Federation of Magic Societies' convention, where competing magicians from 47 countries witnessed his award winning act. The Grand Prix is awarded once every three years. In addition, Johnny was voted Best Close-Up Magician at the Magic Castle in Hollywood two years in a row (1987, 1988) and Lecturer of the Year (1996, 1999). He is also the only magician to receive both the International Brotherhood of Magicians' Gold Cups Award of Excellence (1983) and the Society of American Magicians' (SAM) Gold Medal Award of Honor (1986). Johnny Ace Palmer, a world champion magician, has, through a lifetime devoted to practicing magic, accomplished what no other magician has been able to do. In the summer of 1988 in the Netherlands, he became the first and only close-up magician in history to capture the World Championship title across all eight categories of the competition (i.e., even against stage magicians). Since the focus of the FISM competition is generally oriented more towards the stage, it was always assumed that there would never be a Grand Prix winner from the close-up category. So it was that Johnny Ace Palmer, a young close-up magician from Warren, Ohio, by combining his winningly warm and appealing personality with a mastery of sleight of hand skills, and by bringing the theatrical elements of the stage up close, turned the magic world upside down in the Hague, Holland, by becoming the only close-up magician in history (and, incidentally, only the second American) to capture the title of "World Champion Magician." At the awards ceremony when the first, second and third place winners in close-up category were announced, and Johnny was not one of them (the Grand Prix winner does not receive a "place" award), many people were surprised and confused. But when the Grand Prix overall World Champion was announced, and fanfare music and fireworks began, Johnny was stunned to hear his name called out. He had done the seemingly impossible. He had become the first World Champion close-up magician! He has appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” and the CW “Masters of Illusion.”

Bob Sheets

Bob Sheets excels at so many kinds of magic that it is difficult, at first blush, to categorize him. But, watch him working a crowd at the bar and there is no doubt that he is in his element. From the time he established himself at Marco’s Roman Lounge in the shadow of the Hotel Del Coronado through his tenure at the famed Tower Bar in Aspen straight through to founding the Brooke Farm Inn of Magic, Bob is the guy who has dedicated himself to being the life of the party—any party, (even if he has to throw it himself.) He is an irresistible force of nature. In the course of all his adventures Bob developed a unique set of skills that allow him to work in very unorthodox situations that would stymie the average magician. His colleagues speak in reverent tones of Bob’s ability to take absolute control of any bar crowd-- effortlessly. His legendary Card Stab routine propelled him to First Place at the International Close-up Competition at London’s Palladium and he has never paused to look back. Who’s got that kind of time? In recent years he has gained notoriety for his astounding presentation of the classic street swindle, the Three Shell Game. Once you see him perform it (and explain it) you’ll never fall prey to a street swindler again (unless it’s Bob Sheets, in which case, you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll feel like you definitely got your money’s worth.)

Shoot Ogawa Ninja Master of Magic
Rocco Two Time FISM Award Winner
Tom Frank Industrial Strength Magic

Shoot Ogawa

Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Shoot began studying magic at the age of 10, making pebbles from the river in his backyard appear and disappear. From these humble beginnings he went on to develop a signature style of magic that has garnered him acclaim on television and in 43 countries. He is a very disciplined artist who devoted himself to many years of rigorous magic training, until he felt he was ready for America (and America was ready for him,) and, when he felt he had developed his skills sufficiently, he took the plunge, moving to Los Angeles in 2003. His ability to charm an audience served him well since he spoke very little English at that point. But, that didn’t stop him from winning Close-up Magician of the Year from the Academy of Magical Arts that year, or from winning the title again in 2006. His handling of the Ninja Rings has been acclaimed “the world’s best close-up linking ring routine,” and in 2008 the Academy of Magical Arts agreed with that consensus when they awarded him Parlour Magician of the Year. He now speaks English like a native Californian, dude.


This Jersey Boy has done pretty good for the son of Italian immigrants who came to Paterson, New Jersey, in search of the American Dream. The legendary master magician, Slydini, took Rocco under his wing and tutored the young novice, and it definitely shows in the precision and deliberate pace Rocco establishes in every performance. The defining moment in his career came when he picked up a copy of Bobo’s Modern Coin Magic and discovered some of the lost arts of pure manipulation. Rocco developed this mastery into a style that has become his signature throughout the world. In 1986 Rocco won the coveted Golden Lion’s Award at the Las Vegas Desert Seminar, but that was just the beginning. Rocco became the first American to ever win gold medals twice at the prestigious Federation Internationale des Societes Magiques, competing in 1994 and then again in 2006. That launched the never-ending tour that has become Rocco’s life, taking him to every corner of the world, most recently to China where he captured the hearts of audiences in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. Once you’ve seen him you’ll understand why.

Tom Frank

Tom is the kind of guy who likes to sink his teeth into something and refuses to let go until he has wrung every single drop of entertainment out of it. He is a master of Close-Up Magic as well as Platform Magic, and has honed his considerable skills at “audience management” in the toughest crucible a performer can ever endure-- street performing, or busking. For 10 years he was a beloved fixture at Universal Studio’s CityWalk where he could always be found blowing the minds of disbelievers.Tom is recognized for his near obsessive focus on one of magic’s oldest and most revered routines-- the Cups and Balls. He has mastered every conceivable nuance of this classic, and never passes up an opportunity to learn more about it or meet an obscure performer who can show him something about the Cups and Balls that he may not know. In fact, Tom’s unhealthy fixation led to him designing and creating his own line of Cups and Balls that he felt were truly the very finest in the world. The Phoenix Cups and Balls that he produces are so exceptional, and recognized by magicians across the world as an example of the finest craftsmanship, that many of the sets are purchased by collectors who have no intention of ever using them for performance. They just buy them and put them on display in their glass cabinet. But, given the slightest encouragement Tom will bring his own set of Cups and Balls out and do things with them that you never imagined possible, all the while regaling you with tales of the history and origins of one of magic’s classics.

Larry Wilson Master of Magical Madness

Larry Wilson

For the past three years, Larry Wilson has sneaked into the cast of SPELLBINDERS as the only performer without a Gold Medal to his name. Therefore, we take great pride in announcing that last November Larry Wilson was named 2017 Comedy Magician of the Year by the prestigious Forte Awards. To everyone’s astonishment Larry has been nominated in the same category once again this year. If he wins the title a second time does this mean he will have to be addressed as “Your Grooviness?” Not technically. (However, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of decorum.) The Forte Awards don’t take place until November so you’ll just have to wait breathlessly to find out if he emerges as the goat or the G.O.A.T. Since founding the nonprofit Education Renaissance of Nevada Initiative six years ago Larry’s relentless commitment to bringing arts and education to Northern Nevada has blossomed like a beautiful topiary to capture the imaginations of thousands of Northern Nevadans. SPELLBINDERS continues to be the flagship event of the nonprofit, and Larry hopes that he will not be upstaged once again by all these young whipper-snappers. Larry’s legendary assistants, The Flying Cavettis, with whom he has been nominated three times as Stage Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts, may, or may not, be appearing with him. Who can say really when dealing with elemental forces of nature such as the Flying Cavettis? We can guarantee that if you think you smell the Cavetti’s signature musk-like scent they are, no doubt, likely to be in close attendance. Consider yourselves warned.

The Where & When

Why? Because it's free, and it's magic.


Masters of Close-Up Magic - FREE!
Johnny Ace Palmer / Shoot Ogawa / Bob Sheets / Tom Frank

These World Champions of Magic will be appearing at the following libraries in SIX different counties on Friday and Saturday. PLEASE NOTE: Showtimes are different at each library. Be sure to arrive early so you can get the best FREE seat.

    Saturday, November 17th
  • Sparks Library - 12:00pm
  • North Valleys Library - 2:00pm
  • Fernley Library - 2:00pm
  • Lovelock Library - 4:00pm
  • Carson City Library - 1:00pm
  • Dayton Library - 3:00pm
  • Virginia City Library - 1:00pm
  • Fallon Library - 3:00pm

    Sunday, November 18th
  • T.B.A.

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

The Gala Show - FREE!
Saturday, November 17th

International stars of magic Stuart MacDonald, The Evasons, Rocco, Larry Wilson & Co. will perform at 3:00pm and 7:00pm along with many surprise guests! Tickets are available for free at a Washoe County Library near you. Just ask for them (in a whisper.)
Or CLICK HERE if you want to get them even easier.

Support The Arts!

Spellbinders is brought to you by Education Renaissance of Nevada Initiative, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Feel free to make a donation HERE knowing that you are helping their mission to bring the arts and sciences to Northern Nevada. (Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.)
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©2018 The Education Renaissance of Nevada Initiative