Illusionist Jason Bishop ignites Galaxy of Stars

Illusionist Jason Bishop and his assistant, Kim Hess. Photo by Jared Gant.

“America’s Hottest Illusionist” Jason Bishop took the stage of WCU’s Bardo Arts Center on Sunday, Oct. 7 as part of the Galaxy of Stars series.

The show was nearly sold out with 850 of the 904 available tickets purchased.

The first illusion started with a rectangular box, about 36 inches long and 18 inches tall, being placed onstage. The front of the box had a television-type screen on which Bishop could change the images.

Bishop placed his assistant, Kim Hess, into the box. He then changed the screen a few times and opened the lid to the box, showing the audience that Hess had changed clothing. This happened many times and perplexed the crowd.

“She can change her clothes in two seconds, unless you go out to dinner with her,” Bishop joked.

Most of the illusions included audience participation. One trick involved borrowing a watch from an audience member and “crushing” it, when in reality the watch was never harmed.

The show was filled with Bishop’s signature sense of humor. One trick involved a Rubix Cube, which Bishop called “Russian for ‘1986 stocking stuffer.'”

Other tricks included pulling a goldfish out of an iPhone, putting an iPhone in a balloon, and changing the face value of money.

Children watch in anticipation as Kim Hess stands on a locked box containing the bound illusionist.
Photo by Jared Gant.

The final piece before intermission was mind-blowing. Two men from the audience, Phil and Shawn, carried a large trunk onto the stage. Katherine Nagle, a junior at WCU, also helped by inspecting a large brown sack.

Each helper inspected the trunk and its three locks. Bishop gave the helpers the keys to hang onto. He then called children from the audience to come onstage and watch up close.

After the sack had been inspected for holes, Bishop climbed into it and had Hess tie a knot, locking him in the sack. Each of the helpers then tied one more knot.

The illusionist escapes!
Photo by Jared Gant.

Hess shut Bishop in the trunk and the helpers locked him in. Hess then stood on top of the trunk and pulled a curtain up around it.

When the curtain dropped, Hess had disappeared and Bishop was standing on the trunk, no longer locked in or tied in the sack.

Bishop then had the helpers unlock the trunk, where they found Hess tied in the bag, having changed her clothes again.

“I have seen shows like this before but I have never been picked to help,” said Nagle. “I checked the bag really good. There were two small rips in it but nothing that could pull apart.”

Bishop recruited young Allie from the audience. Photo by Jared Gant.


The second half of the show was much slower with fewer large illusions.

The first trick required a small child from the audience trying to stick their head through metal jail bars to prove that even a child couldn’t fit.

“Logically, if a child can’t get through, then I can’t get through,” Bishop said.

Six-year-old Allie of Sylva was perfect for this. The audience laughed as she wiggled and tried to make her head fit through all of the bar openings with no luck.

Bishop then went through the metal bars, after pulling up a curtain, of course.

Bishop told the audience about how he grew up in foster care reading about magic tricks from the public library. There was always one that stuck out in his mind which he practiced for years trying to master. He then performed a card trick by throwing cards from between his fingers and making new cards appear as if from thin air.

Hess then performed a skill that she had been mastering since she was four years old: baton twirling. While she kept the audience entertained, Bishop brought a box onstage, about four feet long. He then placed Hess inside the box, closed the lid, and threw a baton at her.

Hess caught the baton, naturally, and threw it back at Bishop. He then folded up parts of the box, making her disappear before the audience’s eyes.

Bishop and Hess levitate above the stage. Photo by Jared Gant.

To close the show, Bishop levitated Hess into the air at the back of the stage. He made her lift up a few feet, brought her back down, then sent her even higher into the air. He then levitated himself before bringing both of them back to the stage.

The whole purpose of the show was to make people question how things were happening. “I like to amaze people, make them think, make them wonder,” Bishop said.

Shows like this don’t come to WCU very often. “It took four years to get this act here,” said Paul Lormand, director of the Bardo Arts Center.

Before introducing Bishop onstage, Lormand acknowledged different groups in the audience. “I would like to thank Smoky Mountain News for their eight years as a sponsor,” he said.

For more information about upcoming events in the Bardo Arts Center, contact the box office at (828) 227-2479.