By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Ivan Amodei prides himself on being a “different” sort of illusionist. It’s interactive, without awkward pauses, and the setting is dramatic.

Set on the dark and deserted streets of Paris, Amodei’s show is based in the Louvre, where a musical muse escorts guests through galleries. During the virtual trip, Amodei uncovers life’s mysteries, one illusion at a time. Amodei brings his show to the Herberger Theater Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2.

He says guests will face their greatest fears, while others track down love in unexpected places.

My show is built around my experiences going to the Louvre in Paris and seeing the paintings,” Amodei says. “I started to build the show around the meaning of the paintings, and destiny and purpose. Everybody has a purpose. We find out what each person’s purpose is through the illusions I create.”

Other illusionists’ shows may be preachy, but Amodei says his have tense moments, when guests actually run off the stage crying.

That’s women or men,” he says with a laugh. “They say, ‘I’m not participating in this. See ya.’ Ultimately, people really love how I convey my message. It’s like facing their fears and making the right choices.”

The Sicilian-born Amodei has known he wanted to be a illusionist since he was 5 years old, when he saw a family member killing time with card tricks. He obsessed over magic through college, working at restaurants, corporate events and graduations.

I never really had goals,” says Amodei, who also runs his production company. “I didn’t need to be famous or on TV. I just wanted to do this.”

Amodei found his niche as a resident performer at The Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, California, where “Pretty Woman” and “Entourage” were filmed. His show ran for 10 years.

It was almost 2,500 shows,” he says. “After the third year, people were contacting me saying they wanted to see the show, but they don’t live in Los Angeles. I decided to take the show on the road, just once a month.”

It worked.

Fans love seeing my brand and style,” he says. “There’s a lot of audience participation. You don’t just sit and watch the performer. You have to talk to me, participate, give me feedback and make suggestions.”

Amodei stresses his show is family-friendly.

I never say a bad word,” he says. “You can bring a 3-year-old or a 98-year-old. Nobody is ever offended by anything. It’s not a children’s magic show, though. It’s more of a psychological show.”

Secrets & Illusions,” Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe Street, Phoenix, 602.252.8497, herbergertheater.org, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, $43-$79.

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