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Cory Leonard of Magic By Cory poses with Moe the Goose, part of his act, at his home in Spring Valley on Thursday afternoon. Leonard went to Chicago to audition for the eighth season of “America’s Got Talent.”
Spring Valley magician, Cory Leonard, auditioned for the television show “America’s Got Talent” at the open tryouts in Chicago and is waiting to hear if he made the cut. Leonard made an auditions tape for last year’s season but never heard back. Three weeks ago he saw the open auditions for season eight were being held at the McCormick Center in Chicago and decided to attend. “I realized it was about personality,” said Leonard. “I decided; I’m doing it this year.” Each contestant gets 90 seconds to perform in front of the show’s producers. Leonard decided he would have to make his show perfect if he wanted to impress them and practiced his routine thousands of times within the three weeks. Leonard would do the show by himself or in front of his family to get suggestions. “My wife, Margaret, has always been and was very supportive though out,” said Leonard. At 4 a.m. the morning of the audition, Leonard left for Chicago. He was in the first of 50 groups that would perform that day. Leonard said the area was huge and full of a nervous, excited energy. He waited as the performers went in one at a time and finally it was his turn. “I will never forget it,” said Leonard about the day. Leonard described the producers as being stoned-faced as he went through his show, but said the female camera person was laughing. The pressure and anxiety leading up to the performance turned into muscle memory from all the rehearsing as he executed his routine. After the performance, he was grabbed to do some more tricks on camera in front of a different audience. Leonard said he felt turned in-side-out and tired after the 10-hour day and dozed off right after. The announcement for the show’s finalists will come at the end of March. Leonard said that even if he does not get picked he will be shown in the opening for Chicago. “It will be a great experience if I make it, but a chance to learn and improve for next time if I don’t,” said Leonard. If Leonard makes it on the show, he is planning to go with more bizarre magic tricks; including using a stuff goose he called Moe to read audiences’ minds. “They seem to go for the bizarre stuff,” said Leonard. Leonard said the hardest part is deciding what to do because he has so many tricks in his repertoire. The best thing for Leonard would be the recognition that comes with being on the show. “I worked hard my whole life. My youngest will be done with school soon. It’s my time to be recognized,” said Leonard. When Leonard was 9 he attended his first magic show and wanted to learn more about performing illusions. He taught himself by reading books to learn different types of tricks. Leonard said magic always came easy to him and he loves performing in front of audiences. “It offers an escape and a chance for people to smile and forget,” said Leonard. He started performing in the Navy and then returned to the Illinois Valley Area and started entertaining at local restaurants. Leonard decided to make it a fulltime career by starting Magic by Cory in Spring Valley 25 years ago. He performs for restaurants, children’s parties, corporate events, and other occasions.