Magical Plymouth Entertainers

by | Nov 2010

David Harris

David Harris. Photo: Marshall Franklin Long

Presto! Plymouth is home to three topnotch magicians sure to make the stresses of planning entertainment for your next big party, well, disappear.

Looking for great entertainment for your corporate holiday party, sassy soiree, school shindig or something in-between? We caught up with three of the area’s hottest magician-entertainers and asked them to fill us in on what they’ve been up to lately. But be careful, as what you’ll find behind that black top hat and magician’s cape might suddenly re-appear at your next social outing. That’s how good they are.

David Harris

To say that David Harris loves magic and comedy is like saying Monet had an affinity for flowers—the phrase in no way, shape or form captures the extent of his zeal.

Harris, who has “always loved performing,” honed his entertaining prowess by dressing up like Michael Jackson and giving dancing magic shows in his basement when he just a kid; he started doing shows around town to increasingly larger audiences and turned semi-professional when he was still in high school—when, he says with a grin, other kids were worrying about what to wear for prom.

“I was always the goofball, the class clown,” he says. “Needless to say, I love getting attention. But I was also the class president and the student government leader. I think in order to be a great comedian and entertainer, you have to be both serious and funny.”

Harris focused on creating the best magic he could in the early part of his career but has recently shifted the emphasis to comedy. “For me, the true sense of who I am is a comic,” he says, “but I suppose I will always do some magic.”

So, in this new direction, he’s worked with the likes of Louie Anderson, found another mentor—none other than “Wild” Bill Bauer—and frequents the Joke Joint Comedy Workshops and open mic’s wherever and whenever he can. “I’ll drive an hour-and-a-half for five minutes of open-mic time to try out new material,” says Harris, who is constantly trying out new jokes.

His client list looks like a veritable who’s who of enterprises, ranging from nonprofits and school districts to health care organizations and religious groups, even high-tech organizations including Carlson Companies, Cargill’ and General Mills locally, and dozens and dozens of others in Minnesota and 12 other states. He’s been on almost every local network affiliate in the area, a leading man in commercials for a local Mexican eatery Panchero’s, and was co-producer and co-writer of the 2006 Emmy award-winning television show, Nate on Drums.

And the 32-year-old is only just getting started.

“It’s all about being authentic and true to who you are,” Harris says. “It took me a while to finally get there, but I’m pleased with where I’m at.”

Annette Fragale

Many people wax poetic about turning tragedy into triumph; Annette Fragale actually did it.

In 1985, on Superbowl Sunday, Annette’s husband, along with 70 other passengers and crew, was killed in the Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 plane crash.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It was such a devastating loss. I didn’t know how I was going to go on.”

But Annette, mother of five, knew she must. Friends and family bolstered her during her time of need, and wanting to acknowledge all they had done for her, she hired a magician to entertain them. Little did she know the show would reveal a new path for her life.

“I needed something to do with my time, and when I saw that magician standing up there I said to myself, ‘I can do that,’” says Fragale.

So that’s what she did.

Fragale enrolled in magic school, she took improvisation classes with the acclaimed Stevie Ray, and she went to clown college. She frequented magic shops for tricks and fashioned her own from thrift-store finds. “I love what is called ‘kitchen magic,’” she says.

Her first gig was a kid’s birthday party, so she loaded her bike (yep, her bike!) with her tricks and magic paraphernalia, and set out to make young people laugh. “I was very nervous, but I loved it,” she says.

Since then, she’s taught classes through the Plymouth parks and recreation department, and performed at Dudley Riggs, Comedy Sportz, private parties, libraries, daycares, schools and corporate events in and around Plymouth. And for the past four years, she’s been creating her own cable television show called The Magic Book Nook (which airs on Channel 19 on Saturdays from 7:30 to 8 p.m. and replays Sundays at 3:30 and 11:30 a.m.), where she infuses magic, stories, songs and frequently a few of her 11 grandchildren into one fun program.

“I’ve gotten much more confident in every area of my life,” Fragale says. “Magic has helped me do that.”

Matt Dunn
Matt Dunn

Matt Dunn. Photo: Matt Dunn

Matt Dunn remembers when he first fell in love with magic: He was 6 years old and happened upon a Fisher Price magic show kit at a neighbor’s house in the Hawthorne Ponds neighborhood of Plymouth. There was just something about that chicken and its egg, the way he could make it appear and disappear with ease, and the plastic wand with its colorful flowers tucked secretly inside that could be produced by just the right moves.

“I used to go over every day and borrow that magic kit,” Dunn says. “Finally, the neighbor lady said, ‘Why don’t you just go ahead and keep it.’”

Matt started giving magic shows for kids and grownups alike; he’d dress up in his Sunday blazer and khaki pants, and create a table from an overturned cooler and a piece of cloth. A few years later he was doing a couple of shows a month, and at 15 years old he went to magic camp in California, where he was mentored by some of the best magicians in the business.

At 28, Matt is now performing up to 350 shows a year and incorporates live animals, both vintage and new magic tricks, strolling magic, audience participation and a big dose of humor into “fast-pace shows that are fresh and exciting,” he says. ”I like to think my shows are more than just magic; they’re entertainment.”

His accomplishments are many: He performed at the Republican National Convention, the U.S. Women’s Open, for the Minnesota Twins, and has, quite literally, done thousands of shows at schools (including every school in the Wayzata school district and regular performances at the elementary school he attended when his passion for magic was first piqued, Gleason Lake, and his high school alma mater, Benilde-St. Margaret), trade shows, weddings, private parties, libraries, county fairs and corporate events, and that’s just the short list.

“I am so lucky to do what I love and to do it here where I grew up,” says Dunn, who is perfectly content to stick around. “And I am so thankful that the people of Plymouth have been so supportive of me and my work.”


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