When young Maxwell Blade discovered Mark Wilson’s magic television shows in the 1970s, he was awestruck. He immediately went to his local library and borrowed every book on magic and began to learn each trick. Learning and practicing magic was at first just a hobby to Blade – his dream was to become a musician – but Blade recalls that he didn’t want to return his library books as a youth for fear that others would learn his secrets. Blade also began to teach himself drums and piano and, at eight-years-old, began to play music in his local church.
Not long after graduating from high school, he joined a rock band called Exit Five, which later changed their name to Shark Avenue. The band recorded two albums and toured for several years. Although Blade was living his childhood dream of becoming a rockstar, he still continued to entertain guests and his bandmates with the magic tricks he had picked up over the years. In 1989, Shark Avenue amicably split and Blade decided to segway his entertainment career into magic and illusion.
In 1991, Blade became a full-time magician. Under the direction of his manager at the time, Dick Renko, Blade began to perform his shows all around the South and Southwest. Over time, a show of simple tricks grew into the multi-layered symphony of music, comedy, and large-scale illusions that mesmerizes audiences today at the Malco Theatre. On August 4, 1994, Blade’s first large-scale production debuted at the King Opera House in Van Buren, Arkansas. He dedicated that show to his mother, who died from Lou Gehrig’s disease only a week later.
Maxwell states that when he began performing, no one else in the world was performing the multi-layered types of shows that he produced – his acts were completely unique. During the two years touring his first major production, the cast had become so large (at 17 members) that Blade and his family began to think about where they would open their very own theatre. In 1994, after touring the country, the Blade family, including his three lovely daughters Courtney, Lexi, and Gabby, finally announced Hot Springs, Arkansas as their home. From 1996 to 2008, the show was performed in the historic Malco Theatre. Maxwell then decided to downsize his production and relocated into a smaller venue until 2016.
In September 2016, Hot Springs’ Sentinel-Record reported that Blade was “going home” to the Malco Theatre at the end of his twentieth season. This year, they celebrate their twenty-sixth season in Hot Springs, Arkansas.