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North Andover Towncrossings

IRS man by day, ventriloquist in his off-time

Bethany Bray

 

Usually, the words "Internal Revenue Service" and "ventriloquist" do not end up in a sentence together. But for North Andover resident Steve Devitt, they do.

By day, Devitt works at the Andover IRS Center, but his favorite hobby is quite different from his day job. He puts on shows as a professional children's entertainer, performing shows with puppets, magic and ventriloquism.

"It's a lot of fun. I have always been interested in magic. It's an extension of yourself," said Devitt, who added that he doesn't get nervous on stage.

His puppets, who are all handmade through specialty companies, each have a quirk or insecurity, adding humor to the performance and an avenue for the audience to connect to Devitt's characters.

Hercules, a tan-colored cat puppet with white paws, is afraid of mice, and has a bandaged tail and knicked ear from his adventures.

"He has a tough exterior, but has insecurities," said Devitt.

His basset hound, Miles, is afraid of cats, and never comes onstage with Hercules. Razzle the bunny doesn't like to go to school and can't spell the word "carrot."

Devitt recently returned from the annual Vent Haven ventriloquist convention, which he attends every July in Fort Mitchell, Ky. In August of 2006, he attended the World Championships of Magic, held in Stockholm, Sweden.

"I go every year. It's like a little family, we all know each other," said Devitt of the Kentucky event.

Devitt got started when he was 16, performing magic tricks. The hobby grew from there, and he also started performing as a clown, joining the Clowns of America organization.

"It's a lot of fun, and I wanted to expand, see what else I could do," said Devitt. "Ventriloquism is not hard to learn, but hard to do well. The hardest part is making the puppet come alive and the lip synchronization."

He is mostly self-taught, except for a home course through the Maher Ventriloquist Studios and the tips he picks up at workshops and conventions. He took out an ad in the yellow pages for his act and started doing ventriloquism in addition to magic tricks about 15 years ago, he said.

For now, Devitt performs at birthday parties and other events, including the city of Beverly's first-night New Year's Eve celebration. Once he retires from the IRS, he hopes to perform full time.

Devitt moved to North Andover from Beverly four years ago. Several of the people that he's worked with at the IRS know about his "magical" hobby, but those who don't are surprised to learn, said Devitt.

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