You know Bill Hader’s character Stefon that appeared on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update from time to time? I feel like I’m channeling him when I’m talking about the newest magic show in Tennessee. In Stefan’s voice:
“The hottest new show in Pigeon Forge is ‘Freckled Zelda’s Mythical Magical World’. It has everything: a girl in elf ears playing an ocarina, kid magicians, a unicorn, a man channeling Gargamel from the Smurfs and a little person sidekick.”
As bizarre as it sounds, all of that is true. You might think that this was just thrown together and the end result must be terrible. In reality, it’s a mixed bag but I left the theater pleasantly surprised.
For starters, this show has a pretty amazing production value. The lighting package, the sets and the sound system alone rivals anything I’ve seen in Vegas or Broadway. This ain’t a cruise ship show. Even the illusions performed in the show are extremely high quality. I’m not joking when I say the budget for this has to be hovering around a million bucks. However, you can throw all the money in the world at a production and it means nothing if you don’t have a good cast.
Make no mistake about it, the kids are the stars of this show despite having two adults in the cast. Ever heard of Freckled Zelda? Me either. Apparently she’s huge on TikTok and has five million followers she refers to as strawberries. She’s famous for playing the ocarina. Never heard of it? Same here. Think of it as pan flute adjacent. Regardless, she’s quite talented and is extremely skilled as well as plays the guitar. Just from seeing this show, I’d guess that she is an old soul. Aside from being a talented singer, she’s actually quite comfortable on stage.
Co-headlining the “Mythical Magical World” are Kadan and Brooklyn Rockett. You may have seen them several years ago when they were 9 and 10 years ago on America’s Got Talent. They made it all the way to the finals and got some great national exposure. Since then (they are now teenagers), they’ve been performing their brother/sister magic duo routine in theaters, festivals and theme parks all over the globe.
What makes the Rockett siblings so special is kid magicians typically do smaller magic tricks. You know, card tricks, sponge balls and vanishing coins. These guys do crazy huge stage illusions. Those tricks you’ve seen David Copperfield and Franz Harary doing on stage and in their television specials. To be honest, they are quite good. They’ve been doing this for years and have great banter and stage presence. You may be asking yourself, how do kids this young afford these crazy expensive illusions?
That comes from their dad Bart Rockett. You see, Bart started doing magic years ago and had shows of his own. However, once he taught his kids the ropes and they rose to stardom on AGT, he’s been producing appearances and productions with them for the last six years. From a distance, the venture seems to have paid off as his kids are constantly getting gigs on stage and television with regularity.
Without question, this is a Bart Rockett produced venture from beginning to end. The good, the bad and the ugly. As mentioned before, the show has a high production value. Not to mention, Bart stands in the audience to the left or the right of the audience constantly talking into the microphone tacked onto his jacket lapel giving directions to a stage manager. It’s annoying and distracting from the performance.
Meanwhile, all of the assistants on stage helping with the illusions look like they are being held captive against their will. They hold up curtains, roll away staircases and make the magic “happen”. And if you look at them for even three seconds, they seem not only disinterested in what is going on, but downright miserable next to kids who are genuinely in love with what they do.
Finally, the writing is abysmal. Have you ever seen a successful magic show with a narrative that isn’t just “let’s do another trick?”. Exactly. It is pretty much impossible to pull off. I will say that mixing a “magical” fairy land with stage magic tricks may be the best premise I’ve seen as an attempt to pull something like this off. Unfortunately the script is so slow and dull it can be downright painful at times. The “jokes” never landed and the digs at little people (even being performed by one) felt cringeworthy at times.
Here’s the thing. Is “Freckled Zelda’s Mythical Magical World” a home run? No. It may be the most unique magic show I’ve ever seen though. It’s a big swing to try something with this much money behind it. For that Bart, you’ve got guts. The extremely talented kids and the production value are the reasons to buy a ticket to this two hour extravaganza. Good news? Writing can be fixed. If Bart wants to, that is. This show can easily be a home run with a handful of tweaks to the script. Let’s hope they get there.
Perhaps even better news? They are planning at least two escape rooms to coincide with the the magical/mythical theme. I think that’s a smart move in the attraction heavy market of Pigeon Forge. Will I come back to play those when they open? Yes, I probably will. Let’s hope the production makes some tweaks before the next time I come back. The kids deserve it.
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