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
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