May-June 2011 | MAGIC MAN

Magician Rich Bloch



High-powered D.C. attorney Rich Bloch wows audiences with some old-school slight of hand at the Dickens Parlour Theatre

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

The story goes something like this… In 1946, legendary comic duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello asked Billie Bloch to allow her three-year-old son, Rich, to remain in Hollywood, so they could groom him for a career in show business. Billie, however, declined, opting instead to whisk her son back to the relative safety of the East Coast. But it was too late; the die had been cast. By age seven, young Rich was hanging around stage doors and doing little magic shows for anyone who would watch. Well, all that practice paid off, because just one year later he landed a TV gig as an assistant to host Dick DuBois on the DuMont network’s “The Magic Clown.”

Rich Bloch is all grown up now, and he’s gone on to do a lot of interesting things with his life. In addition to being a lecturer, motivational speaker, author and playwright, Bloch is
a respected Washington, D.C. attorney who’s arbitrated disputes for the NFL, NHL and MLB among others.

But Bloch never got over his theatrical roots, moonlighting as a professional magician when he wasn’t performing feats of legal magic in the offices and conference rooms of his clients. In fact, in June 2010 this modern-day Renaissance man opened the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville. And though some might find Millville an unlikely location for a D.C. lawyer to set up a magic shop, Bloch thinks it’s ideal.

“Route 26 is a very well-travelled road and very convenient to the beaches,” said Bloch, who has had a home in Bethany Beach for the past 12 years. “I see it as a perfect venue for what we want to do here.”

Once inside, the 50-seat theater (just 5 minutes from the Bethany Beach totem pole on Atlantic Avenue) is as perfectly quaint as the name promises. The use of Dickens as an eponym satisfies two goals at once: First, it conjures (oops!) the flavor of the Victorian era, after which the theater is patterned; second, the 19th-century literary giant was himself an avid amateur magician, having billed himself for one particular performance as “The Unparalleled Necromancer Rhia Rhama Rhoos.”

The cozy space is embellished with authentic period amenities throughout, including plush red-velvet seating, chandeliers and framed sconces perched on rich mauve walls.
Boasting an ornate, gilded picture-frame proscenium and hardwood flooring, the stage itself resonates like a sepia-tone photo of a bygone time. In full effect, it is an exquisite mise-en-scène for the coterie of talented magicians whom Bloch imports from around the United States.

Lately, however, Bloch has been importing more than just magicians. In January, he brought Jim Brochu and the award-winning comedy Zero Hour — about the life and times of Broadway star and Hollywood film actor Zero Mostel — to the Dickens Parlour Theatre just two weeks after wrapping its celebrated run in New York City.

“They built this absolute jewel of a theater there in Delaware, [so] when they asked if I could do Zero Hour, how could I refuse?” Brochu said.

In August, the theatre will hold a Piper Laurie (The Hustler, Carrie, Children of a Lesser God) film festival, at which the three-time Oscar nominee will appear for some commentary and Q&A.

“I just want a place where we can stage fun and entertaining performance art of all kinds,” Bloch said, “and I think we’ve got what we’re looking for right here in good old Millville, at the Dickens Parlour Theatre.”

Dickens Parlour Theater, 302-829-1071


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