Mind-reading and magic shock Chico bar scene

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Dean Waters and Stephen Chollet are experts in their own unique magical arts. Photo credit: Rayanne Painter

There’s no exaggeration in saying that minds were read on Wednesday night during “An Evening of Wonder” with magician Dean Waters and mentalist Stephen Chollet at Unwined Bar and Grill. Both acts, while vastly different in mystical style, never failed to shock and entertain the audience.

Lifelong magician Dean Waters stole the show for the first half of the night. His performance was foreshadowed as folks sat down at dining tables, soon to discover the stack of playing cards present in a soda cup in the middle of each party. Waters, both a master of card tricks and comedic effect, cracked “dad jokes” and teased the audience while leading them through a card trick. Although the trick was probably simple for Waters, the majority of the audience were surprised when they ended up completing the trick successfully after many steps.

Waters’ performance climaxed as he asked an audience member to mix up a Rubik’s Cube. He then proceeded to solve the cube, while blindfolded, in only a minute or so. And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also mixed up the cube again and dropped it in a paper bag. When he took the cube out again, it was solved and the paper bag was empty.

Waters was merely 6-years-old when his fascination with magic began.

“My grandpa showed me a couple things, and I couldn’t figure out what’s going on with these magic tricks and very simple coin tricks,” Waters said. “So then I dedicated the next 25 years of my life to prove him wrong and to figure those things out. I was a sheltered child, always alone in my room, and I had magic books, cards and coins. It was just something I loved at all times,” said Waters.

Stephen Chollet, the next and final act of the show, refers to himself as a mentalist rather than a magician. His act included constantly grabbing volunteers from the crowd and attempting to read their minds. The concept of mind reading may seem unbelievable to most, but Chollet was extremely precise at this difficult talent.

“Mentalism is sort of like using your five senses to create an illusion of a sixth sense. It’s like magic that happens in your mind,” said Chollet. “If you were going to write a definition down, I would call it a combination of influence, people-reading skills and showmanship.”

Without fail, Chollet completed a multitude of mind-reading tricks that left the crowd in awe. During one stunt, he gave books ranging from “Harry Potter” to “Fifty Shades of Grey” to a few volunteers. He would ask them to open a random page and pick any word on the page to remember. Not only did Chollet “read the minds” of all the volunteers and write down the word correctly, but he also knew the exact page and placement of the word in the dictionary he had on hand.

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Stephen Chollet shows the audience that he had written 'Whitney Houston" on his notepad before continuing with his trick. Photo credit: Rayanne Painter

In his finale, Chollet mixed up five paper bags all with a wooden block at the bottom. But, there was a catch: Chollet revealed that one of the blocks had a long and sharp nail protruding from the top. He called up a brave volunteer who directed him to slam four out of the five bags with his palm, at random. The room collectively held its breath as Chollet hit the fourth bag, which did not contain the nail. He then drew gasps from the crowd as he pulled the block with the nail from the last bag.

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Volunteers from the audience randomly chose envelopes and were shocked when "I heart Unwined" was spelled out upon opening them. Photo credit: Rayanne Painter

The evening concluded with nine volunteers pulling envelopes at random, opening them, and the message reading “I ‘heart’ Unwined.”

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.