Illusionist Apter to perform tricks, magic

Sussex Tech's new theatre program to feature 'Little Shop of Horrors'

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  • Photos provided Alex Apter in action.

  • Illusionist Alex Apter.

  • Sign for 'Little Shop of Horrors.'

  • A depiction of the plant in Little Shop of Horrors.

Lead cast members for Little Shop of Horrors

Audrey: Daria Ferdine, 12th
Seymour: David Lisboa, 9th
Audrey II: Anthony Terminello, 12th
Mr. Mushnik: Nicolas Perez, 9th
Orin Scrivillo, D.D.S.: Bryan Deery
The Ronnettes: Destiny Davis, 11th, Emma Cusatti, 9th, Amanda Fantasia, 11th, Tianna Lepera, 9th
Plant Puppeteers: Stephen Schurter, 10th, Jordan Perez, 11th, Coby Hannon, 11th

Alex Apter nonchalantly shuffles a deck of cards — sometimes with just one hand — as he prepares to perform one of his tricks.

With great ease, the Fredon resident and sophomore at Sussex Technical School mystifies audiences with his slight of hand and illusions using ordinary items including coins that magically move from his hand to his pocket with a ching-ching sound.

Apter combines both century-old slight-of-hand moves with ones he's concocted himself, and next weekend, before Sussex Technical School's performance of "Little Shop of Horrors," he'll be warming up the audience in the lobby of McNeice Auditorium.

"Apter is a very talented young magician. His slight of hand work fits right in to the 'Skid Row' feel of our production," said Amy Roberts, the director of the musical and adviser of the school's new drama club. "Apter will be performing in the lobby as his character. I feel that it is important to show the unique talents of as many students as possible, and Apter's magic skills are surely unique and will add an exciting edge to this theatrical experience."

A love for magic
Apter was first intrigued with magic at a young age. At about four years old, he was given a Lance Burton Magic Set.

He enjoyed doing magic, but said, "I kind of forgot about it for a while."

Then, the family moved from Verona to Fredon in 2005, and Apter really missed his old friends. When his new school had him doing occupational therapy to help with his hand writing, at age 11, as fate would have it, one of the exercises involved shuffling a deck of cards. Memories of his love for magic came flooding back to Apter, and he decided to again explore the art.

Apter said he found tutorials on On Demand television. There, he learned the basics and quickly started adding his own nuances. The past two summers, he attended the prestigious Tannen's Magic Camp, at Bryn Mawr College, where he learned such aspects of the craft as parlor magic, comedy, stage magic and even business management for a magician.

This summer, Apter will be going to the National Society of American Magicians in St. Louis where his favorite magician, Lance Burton, will be coming out of retirement to teach a few classes. One of the things that sets Apter apart from other young magicians is the articulate way he engages his audience as he performs. This talent has even caught the attention of an upcoming realty TV show about young magicians. Apter was hand-picked from a pool of hundreds across the country to be a participant.

As Apter performs, he exhibits a huge passion for his craft, smiling with confidence as he mystifies his audiences.

"It's something most people don't do," he said, "And that's what makes it fun and unique."

Regarding his performance before Little Shop of Horrors, Apter plans to keep it within the context of Skid Row and the musical and perform on a cardboard box in costume. He'll then join the show as a cast member and understudy for Gravis Mushnik.

Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors is the story of Seymour Krelborn, a nerdy orphan working at Mushnik's, a flower shop in urban Skid Row. He has a crush on fellow co-worker Audrey Fulquard, and is berated by Mr. Mushnik daily. One day Seymour finds a mysterious unidentified plant which he calls Audrey II. The plot includes a singing plant, a daring hero, a sweet girl and a demented dentist. The musical has a number of catchy tunes performed by Sussex Tech students.

This is the first time since the 1980s that Sussex Tech has produced a musical, and it has been 10 years since the last play, Roberts said. This is also the first year for the Theatre Arts Shop Program at Sussex Tech.

"We focus on acting, but also spend time on the technical areas of production, history of theater, areas of design, and theater management," said Roberts.

The musical has students from all over the county including Sussex, Wantage, Montague, Sparta, Ogdensburg, Hamburg, Newton, Vernon, Franklin, Hardyston, Stanhope, Hopatcong, Branchville, Andover, Stillwater and Fredon.

"We are also very lucky to have a professional stage manager, Emily Houdershieldt, who is a senior in the Cinematography Program here at Sussex County Technical School," Roberts said.

Little Shop of Horrors will be performed at McNeice Auditorium in Sparta, at the campus of Sussex County Technical School, on March 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. and March 30 at 2 p.m. Discounted tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the ticket hot line at 973-383-6700 ext. 235, or at the door. Adult tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, and student tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. To contact Alex Apter about doing a magic performance, e-mail

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