A world of illusion and wonder with Atlanta magician Peter Morrison

Atlanta magician Peter Morrison has performed over 5,000 shows in the last 20 years.

In the tradition of David Copperfield and Harry Houdini, genuinely great magicians flirt between the clever and the miraculous. At Atlanta Magic Theater, Magician Peter Morrison brings his lovingly and painstakingly crafted magic act to spellbound audiences of all ages. The magician made his start after leaving his office job in San Francisco, with triumphant results. He joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes to tell his story, from doing magic tricks as a kid to opening his successful magic venues across the American coasts.

Interview highlights:

How Morrison found the nerve to chase a magical dream:

“I started at a very young age. I was doing shows when I was ten, eleven, twelve years old. And then I did take a very long break. I stopped doing it for probably about, gosh, close to fifteen years, and then I met my wife, and she worked at a church. And said, ‘Oh, didn’t you used to do this magic thing, and wouldn’t it be fun for you to perform for these kids at this youth group?’” said Morrison. “It just was like a magic wand hit me, and I said, ‘Wow. You know, I really love doing this.’ And that’s what kind of re-sparked it.”

“I was actually a corporate sales manager,” Morrison recounted. “But I went in pretty big-time. I was literally waking up extra early in the morning, so I could practice before I went to work. And then, with being in sales, I literally became known as ‘the magic guy.’ So I would go around performing for all my clients. I’d perform in the office, and then I’d get off work, and I’d rush home, and I’d practice ’til midnight… That went on for…I’m going to guess it was probably about three or four years before I made a decision to, literally, just quit, with no big prospects on the horizon, mind you.”

From humble beginnings to cross-country successes:

“I’m a native Californian, born in San Francisco…. In 2009, I was able to meet a fellow who had a place in San Francisco that had a vacant building, basically… an old speakeasy,” said Morrison. “He said, ‘It’s very spooky.’ Because it was. You’d go down this stairwell, and it was really mystical looking, and it had tin ceilings; it was incredible.”

“I maxed out the credit card—$38,000. I had no money in my bank, just right on the verge of bankruptcy, honestly, and opened this place in San Francisco… I spent the first year of that theater standing on Union Square, ten, twelve hours a day, six days a week, promoting my show in-person,” Morrison said. “About a year into it, this guy came up and said, ‘You know, I’ve heard of your show… Do you realize that you are one of the top-rated things to do in San Francisco on TripAdvisor?’”

“There’s kind of a general flavor of entitlement in the Bay Area. Everyone’s a millionaire, basically. And I said, ‘You know, maybe there’s a better place to raise my family,’ said Morrison. “I got on my hands and knees, said, ‘God if it’s meant for me to leave, show me a sign.’ And that very same day, a guy from Georgia came to my show and said, ‘How would you like to bring your show to Georgia?’”

Morrison’s inclusive philosophy of magic:

“Many people really think, and I understand why, actually, that a magician’s job is to fool you and to make you look foolish. You know, ‘Look how smooth and slick I am while I pulled one over on you, and aren’t you a dummy for not seeing how I did it?’ That is absolutely not what I do. I always say when I meet a group of people, ‘This is our circle of fun.’ So I’m here just to show you a talent. I’m here to have fun with you.”

“Beyond anything else, it’s a performance,” said Morrison. “You could have all the coolest tricks in the world, but you really need to be able to have great storytelling and make it interesting, and engage the audience where they feel like they’re part of a show, rather than just watching a show.”

“I’m trying to unlock the inner child in people. That is exactly why I do what I do.”

More information on Morrison’s magic shows at Atlanta Magic Theater can be found at https://www.atlantamagictheater.com/.