Meet Indy-Based Magician David Ranalli
Writer / Seth Johnson
Photographer / Michael Durr
On a typical night, you can find magician David Ranalli entertaining audiences, whether at a corporate event, private party or restaurant. Sometimes, however, his spellbinding skills help him out in other situations too.
“I’ve been mugged, and during the mugging I whipped out a deck of cards and just started doing magic,” Ranalli says. “The dude started laughing, we hugged and went on our way.”
A native of Chicago, Ranalli and his wife now call Indianapolis home. Having been featured on Entrepreneur.com, TEDx, TV commercials and more, Ranalli has done shows all across the Midwest, performing for CEOs, celebrities and athletes.
A longtime student of the craft, Ranalli’s interest in magic was initially piqued by the great David Copperfield.
“I went to go see David Copperfield in Rosemont, Illinois,” he says. “There was one moment in the show where I was just awestruck. He made these two ladies vanish on stage. There was a gust of wind and they were gone. It was just so mind-boggling.”
After going backstage and meeting Copperfield, Ranalli began his personal journey as a magician by studying the work of other pros.
“David Blaine was very popular at the time, so that gave me an introduction to close-up magic, which is a different style of magic,” Ranalli says. “Otherwise, Chicago is filled with a lot of magicians and different cultural ties of magic to the city. I grew up in a lot of that and bring that into my work.”
Like many other magicians in the Chicago area, Ranalli got his start performing in restaurants. “I started doing magic in restaurants because Chicago has a very heavy magic-in-restaurants culture,” he says. Since moving to Indianapolis he’s been forced to expand on his audience, with fewer restaurant gigs readily available.
“I hang out with rich people one day, and then the next day I’m hanging out with the chefs of a kitchen in a restaurant,” Ranalli says. “There are all these weird pockets of people that I get integrated into. I just bring magic into those different places. I find what’s magical there and work with that. There’s always a place that’s ripe for magic, so I don’t really think of it being limited to what’s paying me. I also think about where it is that I can make an impact.”
Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ranalli took time to relax and re-energize, while also figuring out how to do virtual performances from the comfort of his own home.
“It gave me time to rest, think about what type of material I wanted to do and get my enthusiasm back for everything,” Ranalli says. “So it was a nice little vacation for me.”
One result of this downtime is Ranalli’s new show, titled “Deception.” Held at the Speak Easy in Broad Ripple, “Deception” is a magic and mind-reading show, described by Ranalli as “an evening of lies.”
“It’s sort of like a secretive party hosted by me,” he says. “You get a couple drinks, you get some snacks, you come in for the show, and it’s a mysterious, industrial experience. It has a lot of material I like doing that I probably wouldn’t want to do at an event.”
“Deception” will next take place on April 7 at the Speak Easy, with two shows at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Those interested can also catch “Deception” the following month, with Ranalli doing two installments of the show on May 26 as well.
“It’s a night out,” Ranalli says. “It’s great as a date night, for people who are hardcore magic fans, and for people who are interested in what it is that I do. You just go to the Speak Easy and expect to experience something cool.”
In reflecting on what he personally enjoys about doing the show, Ranalli explains that “Deception” just feels organic to him.
“It’s something that I’m in more control of, and it gives people more of a raw experience with me as a performer and not just as a guest somewhere,” he says.
When it comes to his life as a professional magician, Ranalli is simply grateful for all the wild and crazy roads his job has taken him down.
“There’s an addictive adventure to it,” he says. “I get to create my own work, and I still get to continue to live out my passion.”
For more info, visit davidranalli.com.