Entertainer Bart Rockett returns to the Emerald Coast this month, and was gracious enough to talk about his new show and new location in the midst of setting it all up
You performed regularly at another Destin venue several years back. What’s new with the return engagement?
We’ve got a brand new show and bigger, better location. It’s the same type of show as before, but there’s definitely some new material. And the show will have a different look than what you remember.
We were here in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and then I was on the road with the kids for America’s Got Talent after that.
I’ve always loved Destin. The issue was that there wasn’t a venue suitable to our show. We’re doing renovations to the Village Door Music Hall that will allow us to do the show here.
How long have you been at it?
It’s been a lifelong passion. I’ve never done anything else other than producing TV—which was always magic-related—and producing my kids.
Do you prefer illusionist to magician? A lot of these cats don’t like being called magicians.
I’m not picky. I’m an entertainer. My magic isn’t about illusions, and “Look what I can do!” It doesn’t matter if you know how something works, it’s about entertaining you. I will be doing some illusions on stage. It’s a good mix. One of the things people liked last time I was in Destin was the ventriloquism and comedy.
Will your kids Kadan and Brooklyn, the America’s Got Talent finalists, be joining you for any shows?
They will be making guest appearances, but not doing the shows by any means. But when they’re in town, they will definitely appear.
What entertainers inspired you?
Johnny Carson—watching old reruns of his TV show. Johnny started out as a magician and ventriloquist. He was genuinely funny and didn’t need cue cards. He would take a moment and turn it into something magical. I try to make every show a little different, especially with audience interaction.
David Copperfield was the first illusionist I saw as a child. I got to know him, and he’s a fan of my kids.
How much of a part does comedy play in the show?
Comedy is huge. People want to laugh. It’s one thing to amaze people with magic, but ultimately they just want to have a good time. That’s what this is all about. A lot of magicians miss the mark by being too serious. This is one form of entertainment where you can bring Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, teenagers and kids, and they can all sit at the same table.
Your show is advertised as “a must-see magic experiences or all ages.” Have you had to tone down any material to be family-friendly? Or are the youngsters smarter than we’ve been led to believe?
I played squeaky-clean Branson for years. I’ve always had a clean show, so that’s never been an issue. But I do think kids know more than adults give them credit for.
How many people do you have working behind the scenes?
We’re still figuring that out. I’m developing some new pieces and adding the dinner thing this year—people can just come watch the show, but it’s cheaper to add the meal here than to go to another restaurant. We hope people will take advantage of that. And if you eat here, you won’t be late for the show!
Performances run through Thursday, March 19, at 8 PM The following week, the shows will be staged Tuesday through Saturday, with Sunday performances starting in May. Discover more at www.destinmagic.com.