Robin Pedranti isn't your average magical prodigy.
While the 17-year-old admits he can't do tricks like Harry Potter -- turning people into objects -- he's got a special blend of magic that's far more advanced than pulling a coin from behind a child's ear.
Before a crowd of hundreds at Coarsegold Elementary School last week, giggling and eager elementary students couldn't get enough of Pedranti and his magic show. The young professional magician and illusionist has a magical talent for spreading pure joy.
Pedranti will present "Real Magic at YHS," 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday night at the Yosemite High School Performing Arts Center as his senior project -- a fundraiser for the school's Theater Arts Department.
Of the many wonders that await, Pedranti plans to make his assistant Larissa Thornburg appear and disappear, "steal people's money ... and give it back" and create a "weather storm" on stage.
Pedranti fell in love with magic when he was 11, watching a Las Vegas magician turn a dollar into a hundred dollar bill. His first magic show was at age 13.
"I think people may go into the show expecting a child magician and are not going to expect someone at his very young age to have moved on to put on a very professional performance," said father Wayne Pedranti. "He's put a lot of work into it and I know people are going to be entertained."
His many preparations for Friday and Saturday's show have included consulting with Craig Browning, whose helped design illusions for the famous Siegfried & Roy.
"Robin is a gifted magician with a wonderful ease in front of the audience," said Lars Thorson, YHS Theater Arts teacher and Fine Arts Department chair. "He can do the same illusion for little children, teenagers or adults and each audience will get a different vernacular and style. Robin has studied the history of magicians and has worked very hard to put together a great show. I can't wait to bring my children to see him perform."
Robin's other love is sports -- using another kind of magic to shine in football and track & field ... in six different countries over his lifetime.
Living all over the world with a father that works as an aerospace engineer, he begged his parents to move back to Coarsegold after leaving for Texas when he was a freshman in high school. After two years away, he finally returned for his senior year at YHS.
"The people here," said Robin of why he wanted to move back. "The best friends of my life are here in California."
"Robin Pedranti is a throwback to a time when young people were respectful of their elders and worked hard because it built character," Thorson said. "He is the ultimate team player who can step forward and lead if needed or blend seamlessly with others in an ensemble."
Robin hasn't let anything keep him from excelling in whatever he pursues, said mother Johanna Pedranti, not even being born with lymphangioma, an abnormal growth in the lymph cells. To remove it, he had facial surgery as a child.
"As a child in Europe, I remember times when he didn't want to go outside because people would laugh at him, and ten years later, he's up on stage giving a performance," Johanna said. "That makes me very proud that has never kept him from doing what he wants ... For me as a mom that's a big accomplishment that he is confident in what he's doing and it hasn't stopped him from being a stage performer. Being a stage performer can make many people self-conscious about themselves. He is really outgoing and a well-liked person ... He doesn't focus on it and that's why no one else focuses on it, because he's not self-conscious."
"My show Friday and Saturday is called Real Magic at YHS, and a lot of people ask me, 'Are you going to be doing real magic?'" Robin said. "What is real magic? It's not stages or girls in pretty dresses. Real magic comes from the mind and the heart, and I touch upon that a lot."
Robin said his magic is never meant to be scary.
"For magicians, and even J.K. Rowling that wrote Harry Potter, it's not steering towards 'the dark arts.' It's just a fun thing and I just love to entertain," Robin said.
Pursuing magic as a career is a "very distinct possibility," he said. He's mulling over majoring in theater publicity in college to keep furthering that dream.
"I just like the thrill of going out there and seeing so many faces wanting to be entertained," said Robin with a smile.
He decided to use his magic show as fundraiser for the drama department as a way to give back.
"With all the cuts recently, it would be a shame to see fine arts go," Robin said. "I'm in advanced drama and I love it; it's my favorite class. I just wanted to give back and make sure it stays around."
Tickets for "Real Magic at Yosemite High School" are $6 ($8 at the door) and $4 for children under the age of 12, and can be purchased online at realmagicatyhs.com or by calling (559) 676-2124. More information about the magic show is available at pedrantimagic.com.