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Itinerary: Amazing Things

November 15, 2001|ROBIN RAUZI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

What was magic not long ago is an academic scientific demonstration today. Moviegoers know that the impossible has been made visual with keystrokes on a computer. And yet there are things--objects, stories, tricks--that still give us pause, make us smile. This weekend, rediscover your sense of wonder.

Friday

It's amazing how far you can go if you just figure out how to make people laugh while fooling them. Penn & Teller have been riding on that magic carpet since 1975, and they've gone from small clubs, off-Broadway theaters and Renaissance fairs to TV specials, national tours and best-selling books (their most recent title: "When I'm Dead All This Will Be Yours").

The duo sweeps through Southern California this weekend, starting Friday at 8 p.m. with a show at the Fred Kavli Theatre (Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; $33.50-$52.50; [805] 449-2787). Saturday at 8 p.m. they're at the Center for the Arts (340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido; $19-$49; [800] 988-4253); and Sunday at 5 p.m. they'll appear at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos; $45-$55; [800] 300-4345). Three shows in three days--a regular hat trick.

Saturday

Magical things aren't always tricks. The items collected in the Getty's new exhibition, "Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen," show how objects have instilled a sense of awe for hundreds of years. Dating to the 17th century, the toys, scientific instruments and artworks include natural curiosities, lenses, images that are deciphered by mirrors or angles, early special effects and home entertainments.

Saturday evening, the Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, L.A., [310] 440-7300) hosts "An Evening of Diversions," a program of entertainment inspired by the exhibition. Create your own zoetrope--an early mini-movie, or peer through a telescope. Balinese shadow puppets will be on the plaza steps, and in the lecture hall, the American Magic-Lantern Theater, led by fourth-generation lanternist Terry Borton, will re-create an 1890s-style show, "Phantasmagoria." Early movies from the late 1800s and the wax cylinders that predated records (and CDs) also will be on display. No reservations are required.

At the Discovery Science Center (2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana; daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $11, $8.50 for children and seniors, free for kids younger than 2; [714] 542-2823) "The Science of Magic and Illusion: Now You See It--Now You Don't" features an actor playing aspiring magician R.U. Houdini, who figures out how to perform tricks by applying some scientific know-how. The 20-minute show runs Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. through Nov. 24. Shows are free with paid museum admission.

Sunday

Get in line early. Here comes "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the film adaptation of the first novel in J.K. Rowling's fantastically popular series about an orphaned boy who discovers he is a wizard.

Chris Columbus, who made comic hits out of "Home Alone" and "Mrs. Doubtfire," has been charged with the task of making the movie live up to the books-no small task. Daniel Radcliffe, a young Brit, has the title role but is backed up by a very experienced cast: John Hurt, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Julie Walters and John Cleese.

The four "Harry Potter" books have sold more than 100 million copies so far, so you guess how many people will be in line in front of you.

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