Dentertainment: The Man They Call Reveen – A Tribute

By on April 9, 2013

UPDATED 09/04/13 – Reveen Died Early This Week – By Dennis Tkach. I awoke this fine November morning, walked out on my patio deck and drew in a deep breath of unseasonably warm fresh air. I felt my spirits soar high into the blue heavens overhead, marveling at the beauty of this choice pocket of the Fraser Valley I am proud to call home.

My grateful eyes took in the majesty of Mt. Cheam and the surrounding mountains, snow capped and clear, standing like proud granite guardians above the multi-colored autumnal splendor of the softwood trees carpeting the valley floor.

What could possibly ruin such a magnificent day? Unfortunately the answer to this question lay awaiting me amid my morning emails. I read the terse message sent by a friend in Las Vegas and was instantly overwhelmed by a wave of sadness.

The Man They Call Reveen, one of the world’s greatest concert hypnotists… also known as Reveen The Impossiblist, magician and illusionist extraordinaire, age 75, has fallen victim to Alzheimer’s.

If you are in your twenties or younger you probably never heard of the name Reveen. However, for millions of Canadians who grew up during the last 40 years of the twentieth century, the name Reveen is not only known, it is luminescent, admired and fondly remembered. I was, am, and always will be, one of his greatest fans.

Born and raised in Australia where he polished his craft the young fledgling stage hypnotist and his beautiful wife Coral decided to immigrate to Canada in pursuit of their dreams. In the ensuing years Reveen would become synonymous with some of the most memorable and enjoyable live stage entertainment this country has ever seen. Good, clean, family oriented entertainment… alas, such a rarity today.

Of note for the Fraser Valley readership, the first city in Canada that Peter and Coral Reveen called home was Chilliwack.

At the time we first crossed paths with each other, I was a sixteen-year old high school student in Winnipeg. I, and a group of my friends, had heard a lot of good things about a twenty-five year old hypnotist who used members of the audience as his primary source of entertainment. I remember the curtain going up, I remember the man with the thick mane of dark hair and striking goatee, and I remember ‘the voice’. That… was all I remembered.
That night, I volunteered to be one of his subjects and when I ‘came to’ at the end of the show, I was back sitting in my seat surrounded by friends and strangers who were looking at me and laughing hysterically. I had absolutely no memory of what occurred during the previous two hours after I sat on the darkened stage of the Capital Theatre and listened to The Moonlight Sonata. Accompanied by the most mellifluous voice I have ever heard.

Over the ensuing years I became a regular subject of Reveen. I had become a hypno junkie. I have to admit I absolutely loved the attention I received, even if I had little or no memory of what had transpired during my many inductions.

At the age of twenty-four, after an earnest quest to find a religion to which I could devote my entire life, I was baptized and became a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons). I learned, one day while attending church, that Reveen and his wife, then living in Calgary, were fellow Mormons! How cool was that? I said to myself. Later that year, Reveen brought his show back to Winnipeg for yet another sold out week of concerts. Dennis, the addicted hypno-zombie was there to reprise his role as a prime subject. After the show I sent word backstage that ‘a brother in the gospel’ would like to see him. I sat in the empty theatre for about ten minutes, waiting in silence and feeling a little foolish. Suddenly his head popped out from between the curtains. When he saw me, he was shocked. “Dennis? You? A Mormon, too?”

That was the beginning of one of the most exciting chapters of my life. He invited me to join him and his delightful wife for a late night meal and during the course of that memorable meeting I guess you could say we bonded.

It’s Vancouver Calling
Jump ahead a couple of weeks. At the time, I was working as a lab technician and not happy with my conditions of employment. (My then boss was an alcoholic who drank on the job all day and constantly subjected his staff to verbal abuse). One night the phone rang and my mother answered it. She covered the phone mouth and said ‘It’s Vancouver calling. Who do you know in Vancouver?’

I shrugged. ‘No one,’ I replied. I took the phone and said ‘Hello’?

‘Dennis, it’s Peter Reveen calling. How would you like to come to work for me?’

‘Okay’, I said. That was it. I hung up. Numb. In shock.

My mother said ‘What was that all about?”

I replied, ‘I’m going to work for Reveen this summer and I’ll be leaving Winnipeg.’ Mother frowned.

Overhearing our conversation Dad came out of his bedroom with only one question on his lips. ‘What is he going to pay you?’

‘A lot more than I am earning now,’ I said.

‘Then Go’, said Dad.

And Dennis did go.

For the next year and a half I traveled the length and breadth of Canada, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, with periodic jaunts into the U.S.A. For Reveen there was never a town too small or a venue to humble that they would not gladly play. We played in large concert facilities and sell out crowds in the big cities: Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria Regina, and Saskatoon. We had just as much pleasure playing in school auditoriums and community centers sprinkled throughout the smallest hamlets of northern and rural Canada. Whenever the posters went up, the local populations would be abuzz.

They came, they participated, they laughed, and when Reveen returned, six months or a year later, the crowds would come back again and again and again. Reveen was also passionately committed to helping people with addictions. Smoking, overeating, if people suffered from insomnia, he gave countless free ‘medical’ sessions. He was a tireless champion of hypnotism as a weapon against what he called ‘the unseen enemy of the human mind’, nervous tension. Reveen was always in demand for lectures, ie: for sports teams who were struggling and sought hypnotism as a form of therapy. I listened to him on television and radio shows, constantly defending the science against the ignorant and the narrow minded who decried hypnotism as charlatanism.

The road in life he and Coral chose was not an easy one. Try living out of a suitcase and raising four fine young boys at the same time. Reveen, for those who knew him, also possessed a great sense of humor. He had a seemingly endless supply of jokes. They may have been blue, off color at times, but they were always, always, funny. This is the man I knew and worked for and traveled with during those halcyon days of my young adulthood. I never met anyone… ANYONE… who didn’t thoroughly enjoy their evening with Reveen and company. In a cruel twist of irony, he always ended his show with memorable words I have never forgotten.

You may forget me, my friends, but I… will never forget you.

Reveen’s ambitions as a performer were boundless. A concert hypnotist without parallel he also displayed a life long passion and interest in the world of magic and illusion. Before David Copperfield, there was Reveen The Impossiblist. We toured Canada with a massive stage show called Reveen’s World Of Illusion. Large cast of performers, massive sets, magnificent costume changes. ( As his first stage assistant, I had a dozen costume changes) It was a grand and spectacular show! Alas, the cost of payroll, set and prop construction, transportation and logistics, together with crippling intangibles like bad winter weather, a house fire in Kelowna, a bus strike in Vancouver, etcetera, made The World Of Illusion unsustainable. Through all the trials and tribulations Reveen was a never say die kind of guy who refused to give up on his dream. He would try and try again though the public did not share his sentiments. They may have enjoyed The World Of Illusion, but they loved his hypnotic show more.

I remember that cold, sad day in Winnipeg. We had just finished our sold out engagement at the Centennial Concert Hall when Reveen called me to a meeting. He informed me that he and Coral had decided to return to Australia for an indeterminate length of time. If I wished to travel with them there would be no guarantee on income since there was no guarantee on venues and there would be no guarantee on when they would return to Canada. I had been living out of suitcase long enough and it was time to ‘settle down’.

I lost track of the man to whom I owed so very much, but there would be one more occasion many years later when we hooked up in a distant city for lunch. We talked about the good old days, his family, and the ever tenuous future that show biz offered to most who swam in it’s waters. There was however, never anything tenuous about Peter Reveen. He was many things; a born optimist, a superior salesman, a wonderful husband, and a good friend to thousands of people who crossed his path.

Peter Reveen and his wife Coral

The Reveens were also consummate old school show people. When the always eloquently attired couple arrived at a hotel, accompanied by their German Shepard, Kanga, heads would always turn. They lived ‘the life’ and loved it. Yes, there were also dark days, and sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges. But during all of the time that I knew and followed the careers of this remarkable couple, I never saw or heard of them talk of sinking with the ship. The Reveens were survivors in an industry where life was notoriously short.

A brilliant mind with a near photographic memory is no more. I watched first hand as Alzheimer’s, that cruel and rapacious disease, took my mother from her family. I know what Coral and her children are going through and it saddens me beyond measure. They call our twilight time ‘The Golden Years’? I think not. The true golden years are the productive ones where we have truly lived and made our mark in the pages of our short stay here on Earth.

Peter, I want to close this tribute by thanking you for giving me the opportunity to work with you and share some beautiful, at times, life-changing experiences. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people into whose lives you brought a few hours of wonderment, entertainment, and laughter, for this I also wish to thank you. In closing, we may say that Alzheimer’s is robbing you of the ability to have roses in December…. however, I hope my parting words and sentiments to you, my friend, may still put a smile on your face.

You may forget me, but I will never forget you.

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