Jurors got a rare behind-the-scenes look at a David Copperfield disappearing act Tuesday during testimony in a negligence lawsuit involving a British man who claims he was badly hurt when he fell while participating in a 2013 Las Vegas show. The magician's friend and executive producer, Chris Kenner, revealed to jurors the mystery behind a signature Copperfield illusion that appears to make about a dozen audience members vanish onstage. Practiced stagehands with flashlights hurried randomly chosen participants through dark curtains, down unfamiliar passageways, outdoors, indoors, and through an MGM Grand resort kitchen in time to re-enter the back of the theater for their "reappearance" during the show finale, Kenner testified. "Is that route an obstacle course?" asked Benedict Morelli, attorney for Gavin Cox, who claims lasting brain and bodily injuries have cost him more than $400,000 in medical care.
No, said Kenner, whose company, Backstage Employment and Referral Inc., is also a defendant. Copperfield's lawyers lost pretrial bids to close proceedings to the public to avoid giving away secrets. MGM Grand Hotel attorney Jerry Popovich said Tuesday the illusion is no longer used to close the show, reports the AP. Morelli asked Kenner whether stagehands and Copperfield visually assessed the physical fitness and footwear of audience members randomly picked for the trick dubbed "the runaround." Magicians, media members, and lawyers were disqualified to protect the secrecy of the trick that Kenner estimated Copperfield performed tens of thousands of times over 20 years. "At no time are they told what they're going to do before they start this illusion," Morelli asked Kenner. "They're told as they're running the route, correct?" Yes, Kenner replied.