Ventriloquist and magician Todd Oliver take to the Alton Little Theater stage

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ALTON – Todd Oliver found the ventriloquist figures he saw on television in the 1960s fascinating because they were witty, funny, and made him and his parents laugh.

“Families sharing clean, fun laughs is the best sound I have ever heard! He exclaimed. “And a great experience.”

Oliver brings his brand of humor in a new show, “Magic & More”, at Alton Little Theater on Saturday, September 26, for people of all ages.

“I think it starts with the suspension of disbelief,” Oliver said. “The little model is small – we empathize with him. And its charm is magic. Ditto with my little dog. It’s hard to take offense at a somewhat endearing character.


They (the models and the dog) can certainly get away with saying things the ventriloquist can’t. But Oliver takes pride in the fact that all of his shows are family friendly, and he’s thrilled to see kids laughing with their parents.

Growing up in Minneapolis, Oliver received his first ventriloquist figurine for Christmas when he was 10 years old. Her father died three days later.

“This little model helped me get through this difficult time,” he recalls. “And I found that it could make other people smile, too.”

He also studied piano, voice, and magic, and in middle and high school he performed as a volunteer, getting some of his best education while learning the ropes of show business.

If you are going to:

What: Todd Oliver and Friends, presented by Alton Little Theater

When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday September 26.

Or: Showplace Theater, 2450 N. Henry St., Alton

Info: Tickets $ 20 per adult; $ 15 per 18 and under. To purchase, call 618-462-3205 or visit altonlittletheater.org. For more information on Oliver, visit funnydog.com.

If you are going to:

What: “The Riverbend’s Got Talent”, a new competition from Alton Little Theater

When: preliminaries 7:30 p.m., Friday October 2; finals, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 3

Or: Showplace Theater, 2450 N. Henry St., Alton

Info: The variety show style competition is for ages 12 to 30, with room for all kinds of talent – silks, dancers, singers, magicians, jugglers, gymnasts and other acts. The process will be the same as “America’s Got Talent”. Each night will accommodate 50 people, with socially distanced seats in a theater with a normal capacity of 240. Tickets to “The Riverbend’s Got Talent” cost $ 10 per night.


He later performed on stars in Nashville, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri, and, along the line, developed an extension of his act to include an illusion of the family’s Boston Terrier, Irving, in the process of speak. It was in 1996.

There have been several “Irvings” since then, and from the start Oliver said the dog added a dimension that fascinated audiences.

“The dog doesn’t have more laughs or a bigger reaction from the audience, but with the dog,” said Oliver, “it’s more of a shock to people.

“The dog is alive, he takes the stage, and bam – the illusion is something you never see in a live performance.”

When the material is related to dogs and applies to pet owners and then comes from a dog’s perspective it makes it fresh and fun.

The models keep the audience working and the punchlines are close together, so things are moving at a good pace.

What he could describe as his “big break” was an appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman”. This was after an officer spotted him on one of the show boats.

“I was chosen as one of the top five ventriloquists in the world to participate in the Ventriloquist ‘Late Show’ week, although I have gained a nice stable life since starting full time at the start of the year. your twenties, ”Oliver recalls.

He was also one of the four finalists for the 2012 season of the hit TV show “America’s Got Talent”.

“TV shows are great, but in my business you have to be in the theater, do your act,” Oliver said. “And I’m really living my dream. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. “

And Alton Little Theater cautiously continues its season to keep live theater “alive.”

Audience members are limited to 50, but the shows run, while following all state guidelines for limited capacity seating, along with other recommended precautions and disinfection between shows.

Alton Little Theater will be hosting a new competition, “The Riverbend’s Got Talent”, on Friday October 2 and Saturday October 3. The variety contest is aimed at ages 12 to 30, with room for all kinds of talent – silks, dancers, singers, magicians, jugglers, gymnasts and other acts. The process will be the same as “America’s Got Talent”.

About 25 people will perform for the prelims at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 2, with judges Ritch Alexander, Anne Frakes and Shea Maples. From there, the top 10 acts will advance to the final, with the vote of the show’s judges, Lee Cox, Kevin Frakes and choreographer Sydney Martin, and the audience. The final, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, will reward the top five artists with ranking and cash prizes, donated by an anonymous patron who was sad to see local youth missing out on the musicals and concerts of the spring at ALT. and schools in the region. If you are interested in being part of the contest, call the theater at 618-462-3205.

Each night will accommodate 50 people, with socially distanced seats in a theater that normally holds 240. Tickets for “The Riverbend’s Got Talent” cost $ 10 each night.

Oliver will present two shows – one at 2 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. – on Saturday, September 26 at Alton Little Theater Showplace. Tickets cost $ 20 for adults; $ 15 for those 18 and under. To purchase, call 618-462-3205 or visit altonlittletheater.org. For more information on Oliver, visit funnydog.com.


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