Richard Bloch: Magician, Actor, Attorney, Father, & Grandfather
In an age where we live by the dings of our phones and dinners are interrupted by status updates or food selfies, it is rare to meet an individual who has been able to dedicate his life to the pursuit of work and personal happiness. Richard Bloch is a magician, comedic performer, attorney, and loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is also a man who seems to have found the secret to a happy life – love what you do, who you do it with, and know that “you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.”
While Richard is a successful attorney, practicing legal arbitration, I want to use the following page to discuss one of his life long passions, which has brought him on many novel worthy adventures. He first became intrigued by magic when he was seven years old. Richard’s father had unfortunately passed away and his mother was often on the road as a traveling sales lady; needless to say, the inquisitive youth was often left to fulfill an insatiable curiosity. It was on a fateful day in East Orange, New Jersey that Richard Bloch first stepped through the front doors of Mecca Magic. In those days, some 50 years or so ago, magic stores were few and far in between.
As the story goes, Richard saw a magician “doing miracles” and was immediately hooked. He remembers saying to the guy, “I want to work here.” In response the magician kindly asked him if, “he had any experience.” With a small chuckle, Richard remembers that after a brief pause he was able to recall the name of a magician whose act he had just witnessed. And so, he responded with a lie, “I don’t have any experience, but my dad is Ted Collins (a famous magician).” “Well,” responded the store’s magician, “if your dad is really Ted Collins, then you can work here after school.” A thrilled Richard promptly went to leave the store and share his good news. At the last moment he turned around and asked the magician for his name. “Why, it’s Ted Collins,” he said with a chuckle.
Richard Bloch worked at Mecca Magic for nine years following his first introduction to Ted Collins. He learned from the best and was able to meet famous magicians from New York City and the surrounding areas. His early training would come in handy as he later found himself touring the United States and the globe in the pursuit of sharing magic with stunned audiences. While working at Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA, Richard was approached by representatives of a cruise line. They inquired as to whether he would be interested in performing on their cruises. Ever interested in the next adventure, Richard found himself touring the globe for the next 20 years. He and his wife, Sue, were able to travel all over the world on various cruise lines, until the next fateful moment that Richard turned to his wife and said, “wouldn’t it be nice if people came to us.”
The couple had owned a place in Bethany beach for many years. During this time, Richard began to look for a venue to perform magic. Finally, after searching through countless properties, Richard discovered the perfect location in late 2009. The chosen piece of land was reasonably priced, had a garage, 4-bedroom house, and a little cottage. Upon purchasing the land, Richard remembers wandering into the garage to see if he could tear it down himself or if he needed to hire a construction crew. Upon further investigation he discovered that the garage had surprisingly large ceilings and the previous owner’s office was built on a raised concrete platform. And that’s when a vision hit him – this small garage could be the perfect theater venue for which he had spent years searching.
Over the course of the next few months Richard and a carpenter friend from the Washington DC area helped turn the garage into a theater. Richard purchased 50 seats off of ebay, built the risers, brought in performers and on the beautiful summer night of June 16, 2010 the Dickens Parlour Theater had its first show.
The little theater soon became a lively place, especially during the tourist filled summer nights. As the theater’s success has continued to grow, more and more magicians, comedic acts, and performers have come to “wow” audiences throughout the year. During the off-season the Bethany Area Repertory Theater (BART) was formed to keep the stage lit and the magic alive. From Labor Day to Memorial Day BART performs between four and five shows, with a children’s matinee every Saturday. During the busy season the garage turned popular theater is open seven nights a week. In keeping with small town charm, Richard has also set up rainy day matinees during the summer. When it’s raining in the morning, the theater receives calls starting at 6am, as parents try to figure out where to take the kids. As such, the rainy day matinees have proved to be quite popular during the recent wet summers.
From magic shows to comedic acts to drama performances, Richard has built an amazing theater that perfectly fulfills his life long passion and dream. He is able to perform during two weeks in the summer and a couple of weeks during the year. For Richard, one of the best parts about this grand adventure is the audience. “The different audiences are here to see the show. They are interested in seeing the magic and not waiting for some other act to follow.”
In keeping with the intrigue of the audience, the Dickens Parlour Theater also has a hidden gem in the renovated 4-bedroom house. Richard gutted the house to create a large parlour. After the show the audience is able to have drinks and food, while also getting a chance to meet the performers. It is with a sense of beaming pride that Richard told me, “people really enjoy the after the show experience… it is what makes this place so special.”
For Richard, the Dickens Parlour Theater is “a dream come true.” Through its stage and adoring audiences, he is able to continue to “step through the door from one career to the other.” As noted at the beginning of this piece, Richard Bloch has truly discovered the secret to happiness. Whether he is performing his duties as a legal arbitrator, stepping onto a brightly lit stage, or bouncing a grandchild on his knee, he is truly “in his element” because he “absolutely loves every minute of it.”
Written by: Laura Parker