Sharing a love of magic: Retired local magician passes legacy on to 5 grandchildren

 

Pictured (from left to right): Aria Grossenbach, Lennon Grossenbach, Micheal Sager Wissner, Oscar Grossenbach and Anthony Sager Wissner. The young magicians are standing in front their “mummy case” illusion. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake resident Wayne Wissner has a passion for performing mind-blowing illusions, and now, his five grandchildren are continuing his act.

Wayne, formerly of Manistee, is a retired professional magician who began his journey at 7 years old. For the past four years, Wayne has been teaching his grandchildren his magic tricks, making memories to last a lifetime.

The 5th annual Kids Magic Show by Wayne Wissner Productions will take to the stage at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Aug. 13, at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee.

Performers are Aria, 10, Lennon, 9, and Oscar, 6, Grossenbach; and Anthony, 9, and Micheal, 11, Sager Wissner.

“I started when I was 7 years old and just kept going from there on,” Wayne said. “I used to perform at all the little places like the Eagles, Elks, American Legion. I ended up in Kentucky working at a theme park for years and years, and I did three shows a day.”

After retiring, Wayne packed away his props and illusions, but one day his grandchildren took an interest. He decided to dust off his “mummy case” and put on a family performance.

“Their interest piqued and they just kept wanting to do it,” Wayne said. “The kids saw the mummy case and it was gathering dust in the corner, and they kept wanting to see it. So, I cleaned it up, put new legs on it and hired a girl to (help), and the kids were really hooked.”

Michael said his interest started with the mummy case illusion.

“I really enjoy doing the mummy case illusion because that one is a classic, and it was the one that started me off on my magic career,” Michael said. “I saw grandpa do that when I was 4 or 5. I just became really interested, which is what kind of got this all started.”

At first, the kids started out with family performances in their grandfather’s barn, in which he built a stage just for the occasion. Now, they are performing public shows.

However, this upcoming show on Aug. 13 is the first on the Ramsdell Theatre’s stage.

“We imagine that most of the audience will have never seen the show before, so for them, it will be new,” said Aaron Wissner, Wayne’s son, whose children are Anthony and Michael. “Many of these illusions are classic illusions. This year will be different because there will be so many people that we will not know at all.”

Aria said they have plenty of experience on the stage.

“We started doing shows here for family members,” she said. “Then we were practicing in the summer, and for the third show that we did, we did it (for the) public in the barn.”

Wayne’s daughter, Marissa Grossenbach, whose children are Aria, Lennon and Oscar, said each year the shows benefit local charities for children. This year’s show will benefit the Manistee County Teen Center.

Thinking back on years of memories, Marissa said she is happy her children are carrying on her father’s passion for magic.

“I like that we are passing on the legacy that my dad gave to us,” she said. “When I was a kid, I was his assistant at a lot of local shows in Manistee and Ludington. Now, I get to see my kids actually being the performers. It’s pretty exciting.”

Aaron echoed Marissa’s statement.

“I think this is an excellent way for my dad to pass on his love of magic to his grandkids, and it also gives the grandkids a lot of memories for when they are grown,” he said. “This is something unique to the family.”

The show will be an exciting affair for families of all kinds, while the five magicians will be performing various large and small illusions.

“They are doing eight to 10 big tricks; there’s a lot of equipment to move,” Wayne said. “There are a lot of small tricks that they are doing. They each have little sets and tricks. It will be broken up pretty well.”

The “Kids Magic Show” is much different than the others, Aaron said.

“It’s nothing like any other magic show you are going to see kids doing,” he said. “There is no other magic show in the world that has this many large tricks performed by kids this young.”

Marissa said the show will feature a variety of old and new illusions.

“We have over 30 tricks they are going to do, and probably at least 10 of them are new,” she said. “There are some returns; we did it three years ago and now they are going to do it again.”

While the children hail from two different locations, Michael said they practice whenever possible at least once or twice a day. Before taking to the stage, Wayne said there will be three days of practice at the Ramsdell Theatre.

“I have done big illusions, small stuff, close up stuff, I showed the kids close up magic with cards and things,” Wayne said. “They will practice on the Ramsdell stage, and hopefully they will do a dry run through so we can coordinate the lighting and sound.”

Tickets can be purchased at the box office of the Ramsdell Theatre the day of the show.

The family is also hosting the electro-pop violin and DJ band “Nuclassica” at 7609 Norconk Road in Bear Lake — located in the barn. The show is at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday; there is a suggested donation.

avatar

Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

Leave a Reply