Hypnotist Reveen set for Sask. shows
Son continues in father’s famous footsteps
The man they call Reveen! Son continues in father’s famous footsteps
Ty Reveen was five years old when he first learned his destiny.
It came directly from his father, at the time becoming a star in Canadian theatre as Reveen the Impossibilist. He told his son that he too would one day wear the rhinestone tuxedo and wow crowds with his hypnotism and high-speed memory demonstrations. At the time, Ty remembers he was helping his dad make posters with a pair of scissors, a fairly menial task but one that made the five-year-old boy feel part of the show. While his dad was the ultimate showman, there was no grandeur or gravitas to his pronouncement. It was just a tender moment between father and son.
“He looked at me and kind of said ‘You know, one day, you will be taking over the show,’” says Ty Reveen. “I was five years old when I was told that would happen.”
For people of a certain age, The Great Reveen represents a sort of wholesome and vaguely mystical night of entertainment that has become rare these days. B
orn in Australia in 1935, Peter Reveen spent five decades touring Canada, including hundreds of performances in Calgary. His earworm jingle “The Man they Call Reveen” became well-known across Canada in giddy commercials to promote theatre shows. Throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s he was a top draw, eventually becoming enough of a pop-culture phenomenon to inspire parodies on Saturday Night Live and the Simpsons and even become the basis for a running joke on the Trailer Park Boys.
Peter passed away in 2013, a few years after his son Ty inherited the tuxedo and continued his father’s legacy with a show he will bring to the Deerfoot Inn and Casino on Saturday.
The development of Reveen: The Next Generation may have seemed pre-destined for Ty, but it was a long time coming.
Born in Australia in 1959, Ty and his siblings had a blessed if somewhat nomadic childhood, including a few years living in Calgary where he attended Highwood and Huntington Hills elementary schools. Among his first memories were sitting on his grandmother’s lap watching his father perform in Australia before the family relocated to North America. It was the first hint that his father did not have a run-of-the-mill job.
“It was a packed house and must have been about 1961,” he says. “I remember that show. I was in the front row, sitting on her lap and was kind of bewildered about why my dad was on stage and everybody else was looking at him. It kind of hit me that there was something different about this. It wasn’t just a crowd. They were looking at him. And as time went on — everywhere we went — he started to get highly recognized.”
Ty says his father’s embrace of magic and later hypnotism was partially in response to an unhappy childhood. He was abandoned by his mother and raised by a father who drank and was emotionally abusive after returning home from the Second World War. Peter Reveen began performing magic at children’s parties and eventually began reading up on hypnotism — which he would later prefer to call being “placed in the superconscious state.”
Always a tireless worker, consummate showman and brilliant self-marketer, Reveen eventually developed a show that made him the highest-grossing act in Canadian theatre and among the most famous magicians.
“He wanted to please his audiences and get that admiration that he wished he would have felt as a child from his parents,” Ty says. “That’s why he became such a great entertainer.”
Which meant he had high standards, particularly when it came to a son he had pegged as his successor decades earlier. After travelling with his father and working on thousands of shows, Ty eventually left to develop his own career in stage design and special effects, which included creating the elaborate design of ZZ Top’s Afterburner tour in the mid-1980s.
But he returned to the fold and in 2000 asked his father about carrying on the act. He was told he would have to perfect the old man’s show, both the hypnotism — where he would famously take “ordinary people and make them do extraordinary things” — and the displays of high-speed memory. It was a daunting thought, but in 2011 his father finally summoned him to Las Vegas to talk about succession.
“I had to go down and audition for him,” Ty says. “I have never been more nervous than I was auditioning for my father over a three-day period. After I got his thumbs up, he said ‘OK, now it’s time to go in front of a theatre full of magicians.’”
So he performed to a packed house, including “some of the best magicians in the world.” He nailed the high-speed memory demonstrations and earned a standing ovation from the discerning audience. When it was over, Peter Reveen came up on stage and put his rhinestone tuxedo on his son’s shoulders and proclaimed him his successor.
Less than two years later, Peter Reveen died at the age of 77.
“When I was told at such a young age that I would one day take over the show, I guess when I would watch him I was imagining myself,” Ty says. “So I kind of became him. The son became the father became the Man They Call Reveen. I brought (my mother) up to see the show in Newfoundland last year and she said ‘I kept looking on stage and seeing your father. I had to keep reminding myself that it was you, not your father.’”
Reveen: The Legend Continues runs Saturday at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino. Wristbands available at 6:30 p.m., the show starts at 8:30 p.m. Visit deerfootinn.com for more information.
The Chronicle Herald Story
The kid they call REVEEN
He’s known to millions as The Man They Call Reveen. But Ty Reveen just calls him Dad.
Now this next-generation magician and hypnotist is following in his famous father’s footsteps, taking the stage for a new “super-subconscious journey” into the marvels of the mind.
And carrying on the traditions of a man he also calls “my best friend.” And “my mentor and my professor.”
Peter Reveen — known to fans as Reveen — entranced audiences worldwide for almost five decades with his high-speed memory games, lighthearted hypnotisms and shaman-like showmanship.
The high-haired, tuxedo-clad magician and hypnotist also sold out shows across the Atlantic provinces in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. And people of a certain age may remember those singsong commercials for the “unusual,” the “original,” “the dynamically different … Man They Call Reveen.”
The original Reveen, who performed many times in Halifax, retired several years ago when his failing memory and other health issues made the rigours of his stage show too difficult.
But not before teaching his son everything he knows.
Lessons that started a long, long time ago, to the delight of his now 53-year-old son, a father of three who brings Reveen: The Next Generation to Halifax’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Saturday.
Ty Reveen grew up with the sleight of hand and illusionary arts most children only see at birthday parties. His father pulled coins from his children’s ears. And taught them card tricks. And took them onstage as everything from clowns to guillotine stand-ins.
And Ty, known to family and friends as Chip, as in chip off the old block, “loved it.”
“For some reason, I was the chosen one since I was a young boy,” he says during a recent interview from New Brunswick, where he’s lived since the 1990s.
“I was told at the age of five that I would one day take over his show, and it was probably because I Iooked a lot like him but I also took a passion to what he was doing and I would help him with his advertising and I would … always want to be involved.
“I was the one son that was always by his side asking what I could do to help.”
By the time Ty was 15, he and his three brothers were travelling the world and appearing onstage with the Australian-born entertainer, a magnetic draw onstage and off.
Ty remembers thousands of fans watching his father’s shows, and media microphones in his family’s faces, and at times the unwanted attention he received at school.
“Overall it was a really cool experience, (but) sometimes it does get invasive in your private life and there were times in my … adolescence I didn’t want to be the son of a famous person because I couldn’t escape from it,” he says.
“I remember moving from Australia to Salt Lake City, Utah, and I was walking down the hall and … somebody’d grab me by the collar and yell at me, ‘The Man They Call Reveen!’
“So everybody kind of knew who I was, and I was never able to escape from that, but you kind of get used to it. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.”
The good, he says, has been learning his craft from “the best of the best,” a world-famous, self-made man who transcended a difficult childhood and always lavished the kind of praise and encouragement on his kids that he never received at home.
“He explained to me one day that most people (who) have achieved the most in the world really kind of started off in suffering, tremendous trauma at a young age that made them focus and transmutate the nervous and the frustrated energy that they experienced … as a fuel to redirect their ability to concentrate.
“And that’s exactly what happened, because my father, his mother abandoned him at the age of five years old and I know that he still to this day suffers from it.”
Peter Reveen’s father, emotionally scarred from his service in the Second World War, was an abusive alcoholic, Ty says. He remarried and had other children and Peter became the family outcast.
When he was about eight, he met the owner of a magic shop who taught him tricks. He started performing them at parties and became a hit — the beginnings of his eventual study of the science of hypnotism.
“People would say to him, ‘Oh, you are absolutely phenomenal,’ ‘Aren’t you a smart, clever boy.’ And they would give him the praise and the adulation that usually you expect to hear from your parents, but his parents never gave him those things, so his audience became his mother and father, really.
“And so the love and admiration he got from his audiences was the missing link in his life.”
Ty says the admiration was mutual.
The key to his father’s success, and something Ty says he emulates in his shows, is a profound respect for the audience, especially those who volunteer to come onstage and fall under his hypnotic spell.
“I’m doing it my way,” he says of his show. But he stresses he’ll never waver from his father’s ethical philosophy or stoop to what he calls the degrading, sexual innuendo-filled shows of some of his competitors.
“We never, ever have and I never, ever will … invite any person on our stage to be embarrassed or ridiculed in any way.
“I shall not try to make fools of anyone, and this show will not stoop down to any low exploitative tactics or any sensationalistic cheap shots in order to entertain our audience.”
But entertained they’ll be, he promises, noting his show was developed and tested under the guiding hand and expertise of his 77-year-old father, who now lives in Las Vegas. Ty “auditioned” for both of his parents before launching his solo career last year.
“He really wanted this show to have the integrity that his show had during the 20th century when he was at the peak of his career, not in the last years where he wasn’t able to do some of the high-speed memory things, you know, and we talked about it at great length.”
So far, Ty says, audiences seem to be responding. He’s received standing ovations in Las Vegas and on the first stop of his current Atlantic Canadian tour.
“Stepping into his shoes, it is stepping into big feet,” says this next-generation showman, who has also designed stage shows or special effects for the likes of ZZ Top, David Copperfield and Siegfried & Roy.
But, he says, “I’m fulfilling my destiny.”
Peter Reveen – Wikipedia
Find out everything about Peter Reveen.