Showing posts with label # report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label # report. Show all posts

24 February 2020

Random thoughts about the Carisa Hendrix Ring 17 lecture

After the many hours I've spent with Carisa's voice in my head (via Shezam, the podcast that hopes to make itself obsolete), it is delightful to know she's as wonderful in person as she sounds in the podcast!

Those of you who know me, know that I arrive early to magic lectures with the specific intent of securing a back row seat.  Imagine my surprise when, just before the lecture started, we all shifted 180 degrees and I found myself in the front row!  I'm delighted it happened.  It was great to have a clear view for such an inspiring lecture!
  • Generally speaking, men seem less patient listening to magical ideas they can't directly apply, than women are.  
  • Carisa created an effect that may make it worth getting one's ears pierced.
  • Her "pickpocketing" coin routine is fabulous.
  • Her insights around creating a fool proof structure for an effect (and a performance) were well thought out and supported by extensive field testing.
  • She has put a tremendous amount of thought and effort towards developing concrete metrics by which to measure the success of her performances.  ("What gets measured, gets managed." -- Peter Drucker)
It will come as a surprise to no one, what the potato chip flavour or choice was for the pseudo-ex-pat lecturer:
  • To borrow a phrase from the medical community, this data-driven approach clearly makes her an "evidence-based" performer.  This approach serves her well.
  • She personifies the advice she gives in the podcast with respect to audience volunteer interaction.  I look forward to a day when every performer treats their volunteers with this level of respect.
  • She had excellent thoughts on the parallels of comedy and magic.
  • It was wonderful to learn about the evolution of the book production that made its way to Penn and Teller: Fool Us!
  • We were treated to the distillation of $32K worth of art school into ~30 minutes with a crash course in Meta-Modernity.  Lots of food for thought.







    A post shared by James Alan (@jamesalanmagician) on

  • And of course no magic lecture is complete without a deck of cards. Nothing like a variation of a Tommy Wonder routine by Carisa and Kayla Drescher to end the night!

Thank you for an excellent lecture Carisa!

Congratulations to Bob Taylor, who was awarded honourary lifetime membership!



The Sid Lorraine Hat and Rabbit Club has posted some photos on Facebook.  Canada's Magic has some photos on Instagram.


Here's what James Harrison thought about the lecture:




20 February 2020

Random thoughts about "Illusions: The Art of Magic"

Visit "Illusions: The Art of Magic" February 22nd to May 18, in the AGO’s Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavillion.

The exhibition is free for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 years and under.
I participated in the recent media preview of the upcoming AGO exhibition, "Illusions: The Art of Magic," which features more than 55 colourful vintage posters from the Allan Slaight Collection.*  The collection is guest curated by Magicana’s artistic director and historian David Ben.



Adolph Friedländer, Comedians de Mephisto Co.
Adolph Friedländer, Comedians de Mephisto Co. Allied with Le Roy-Talma-Bosco, 1905. 186.5 × 266.5 cm. M2014.128.318. ©McCord Museum



The exhibition is a journey back to the Golden Age of Magic.  During this time magicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were among the first artists to embark on international tours.  Promotional posters portrayed magician's magical powers through illustrated advertisements ranging in size from postcards to wall-sized posters.

“These posters tell us so much about that time – the public’s fascination with Asia, with spiritualism, the occult and the changing role of women in society,” says Julian Cox, the AGO’s Deputy Director and Chief Curator. “Toronto was a popular stop on the international touring circuit for magicians, and Houdini performed here numerous times over his career. These works and the stories behind them remain as captivating today as they were one hundred years ago.”

The Metropolitan Printing Company, Adelaide Herrmann and Company, About 1905, 20th century, 76.7 x 50.2 cm. Purchase, funds graciously donated by La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso. M2014.128.207. © McCord Museum



Listen to the February 18th interview with Julie Eng in the CBC q studio where she talks about the exhibit, cultural appropriation, the role of women in magic, and how many of their stories have been overshadowed and forgotten.
There are many focal points within the exhibition, such as: women in magic, spiritualism, cultural appropriation, and the symbolism of devils, skulls, & demons.



More than posters.

In addition to the beautiful posters, there are wonderful video clips too.  For example:

A still shot from video of Harry Blackstone and his dancing handkerchief

A still shot from an interview with Julie Eng talking about her life in magic.

A still shot from video of Houdini's variation of a forearm riffle.




Keep an eye open for these "hole in the wall" viewing portals to catch a peek of more video!



Make your own magic poster
There's a station where you can digitally create your own magic poster!  (Complete with a legend that explains what all the animals and other objects on the posters represent.)



The exhibition also features other magcially historical items such as:
  • wonderful selections from David Ben's collection, including Hofzinser cards and items particular to magic in Toronto (including a vistors' book from Arcade Magic!)
  • handcuffs used by Houdini, and
  • Houdini's straitjacket

Hofzinser cards from David Ben's collection

Visitor book from Arcade Magic.  From David Ben's collection.

Houdini's straitjacket.


Av Yaga, Alexander, the Man Who Knows, 1915, 20th century
207.9 x 107.7 cm. Purchase, funds graciously donated by La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso. M2014.128.3. © McCord Museum

But wait!  There's more!

There will be daily live performances at the exhibition provided by the Toronto Magic Company.  Confirmed performers include:

- James Alan (Classics of Magic)
- Jonah  Babins (Interactive Impossibilities)
- Harry Zimmerman and Chris Mayhew (Close-Up Magic)
- Toronto Magic Showcase
- Toronto Magic Company (Making Magic)
- Ben Train (Mental Mysteries)

Check the Toronto Magic Company website for the performance schedule.






Visit "Illusions: The Art of Magic" February 22nd to May 18, in the AGO’s Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavillion.   The exhibition is free for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 years and under.


--
* ABOUT THE ALLAN SLAIGHT COLLECTION
Acquired by the McCord Museum thanks to La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, the Allan Slaight Collection is one of the world’s largest collections of rare magic posters comprising more than 600 posters and more 1,000 documents and rare books. The collection was named in honour of the Canadian businessman and magic enthusiast Allan Slaight.

20 December 2019

Random thoughts: "Champions of Magic" 2019

A quick reminder that the Champions of Magic are half-way through their Canadian tour.  Remaining dates:  Saskatoon (January 16), Regina (January 17), Prince George (January 26), and Rama (February 29).


Champions of Magic. 
Photo credit: Champions of Magic.



Last Saturday Kidlet, Kidlet's Friend (KF), Kidlet's Other Parent (KOP), and I made the trek in the wet snow, to Oshawa's Tribute Communities Centre (TCC).  We arrived early and had a chance to get the feel of the arena. 
  • This was my first time attending a show at the TCC.   (My first arena show too.  Thank goodness McAleer posted that arena shows are cold.  We were dressed accordingly!)
  • All of the arena staff were super helpful, professional, and generally fabulous!  Special thanks to (TCC's) Kayla for her time spent with Kidlet. 
  • The show is about an hour for the first half, 15 minutes intermission, and about an hour in the second half.
  • Again I am genuinely afraid of posting spoilers.  The less you know going in, the more you'll enjoy it.

 

On with the show...

Note to parents of young children:  The music can be very loud at times throughout the show.  There's also a smoke machine involved.  Forewarned is forearmed.



I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

So. Much. Fun!

 

KOP's review: A great cast puts on a great performance!
  • While the show has the same overall structure as the one at The Bluma Appel Theatre that I saw last year, there are many new wonderful moments.  (Sadly, there were fewer Chimpions.  Also missing: a dinosaur and two folding chairs.) 
  • They've refined their scripting and introduced some brilliant new lines.
  • The audience came ready to have a good time!  They were all very friendly and primed to be entertained.  (It seemed like everyone in the audience knew each other, at least where we were sitting.)
  • The four magic acts are interwoven through the show, which works really well at keeping each of the disciplines fresh and reduces down time.
  • KF had this to say: They did a really good job of making a coherent show while preserving each magician's unique style.
  • Kayla Drescher, Alex McAleer, Fernando Velasco, and Young & Strange all do what they do very well!
  • The cast seem to genuinely get along amazingly well both on and off stage.
  • The show starts strong with Young and Strange and keeps up an astonishing pace.  It's refreshing to see a man get put into boxes to be squished and skewered!  
  • Even after having seen them perform a similar set before, Young and Strange are remarkably entertaining to watch.  One can't help but get caught up in the fun they are having on stage!
  • They sure know how to play to the crowd!

    Young (sporting the jersey of the Oshawa Generals) and Strange.
    Photo credit: William Balfour, Spectra Experiences.

  • There's LOTS audience participation with both children and adults!
  • McAleer does impressive mind reading.  If he asks you how you are, be sure to ask him how he's doing too, so he knows that Canadians are a caring bunch. 
  • He masterfully handles the subject of geography from a unique frame of reference.
  • Should I ever be in a position to interview McAleer live, I'm going to need to wear an aluminum foil hat to keep him out of my thoughts!

  • Kelly and Dave help out Alex McAleer. 
    Photo credit: William Balfour, Spectra Experiences.

  • Velasco succeeds in breathtaking, heart-stopping escapes and then some.  Even though I've seen him do many of these things before, everything he does makes me nervous!  He made some else in the audience nervous too.  About the same time the photo below was taken, I could hear someone shout "Common! GET OUTTA THERE!"

    Fernando Velasco in danger.
    Photo credit: William Balfour, Spectra Experiences.

  • During intermission, the audience was amazed and energized from the first half.  I heard many people wondering out loud, "How on earth did they do that?"
  • The second half opened with a "new to me" segment that is very engaging.  It gave us a chance to connect with each of the performers in a simple but meaningful way. 
  • Drescher did some fabulous close-up in the audience, and a couple of types of "arts and crafts."  (Also of note, Drescher's volunteer Sean, was reluctant to break her heart.)
  • I need to mention that Drescher's handling of volunteers, especially young Mason, was EXCELLENT!  Things were explained in advance.  Consent was obtained.  Respect was given.   As it should be.  (This should come as no surprise to anyone who listens to  "Shezam," the podcast she co-hosts, which has touched on the topic of volunteer handling on more than one occasion.)

    Kayla Drescher with Mason and Brian.
    Photo credit:  William Balfour, Spectra Experiences.

  • Canadian trivia: Gerry Frenette's original illusion is still in the show!
     
  • Note to performers: Always be extra nice to the sound techs.  You never know when they WILL exact their revenge!
  • I'll never get tired of watching Young and Strange channel their inner SARMOTI in their high energy illusion medley!  
  • Marissa Maiorana, the aerialist was fabulous!

    Marissa Maiorana flying high.
    Photo credit: William Balfour, Spectra Experiences.

  • Also fabulous:  Kaylan, Brendon, Brandon, Will, Matt, and the rest of the stage crew and theatre crew.  Especially Alex J.  These folks hustle to keep the pace going!
  • The show felt lighter and more playful this year.  Everyone was on board with it! 
  • Drescher said in her interview: "We work hard to make the show not just magically impressive, but an absolutely fun time.

    Achievement unlocked.
     
  • Kidlet really enjoyed the show.  Even knowing what it was going to be, Kidlet still really loved the ending!
  • Although this was the second time seeing the show, I was again thoroughly entertained!  There are so many moments of joyous laughter, and periods of being completely enthralled in the spectacle. 
  • Bonus post-show magic: three primary school aged girls in adorable dresses, created piles of golden confetti, threw the shiny pieces up in the air and danced and sang "red light, green light" as it showered down over them.  Repeatedly.


While excellent magic is at the core of this experience, it's clear that the focus is providing a fabulously entertaining evening.

They definitely hit their mark!


Don't just take my word for it, have a read of TCC Reviewer Sherri Norton's December 15th post "#TCCreviewer: CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC."  Here's part of her review: "The memories? Priceless - a must see show!"


Catch the Champions of Magic in Saskatoon (January 16), Regina (January 17), Prince George (January 26), and Rama (February 29).




Disclosure:  My family and I were guests at this show. The opinions expressed above are entirely my own. I did not receive compensation for the writing or the publishing of this article.


For more photos, read Sherri's review "#TCCreviewer: CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC" or visit the Tribute Communities Centre Instagram.


















13 January 2019

Random thoughts from the Kayla Drescher lecture

I should start with congratulations to Kayla for keeping her energy up through the evening after having just completed a grueling 41 show run with the recent Champions of Magic tour!
  • Hurray for Loblaws, Roots, and Canada Canadian Tire!
  • And beer, ginger beer, and Brio!
  • Colour changing bottle caps are very cool.
  • How do you define magic, art, and craft?  (Definitely not the same way I used the term "arts and crafts" in my earlier report of the show!)
  • Because ... science!
  • And bar towels!
  • Kayla gave Rosemary Reid a shout out for her video:
    (You may remember that Rosemary delighted us all with the first iteration of this speech which she shared at the 2017 Browser's Bash.)

  • Chris Westfall made a memorable entrance.  (How many elastic bands do you wear on your wrists?)
  • There was a mini Sorcerers Safari reunion with Rosemary Reid, Lee Asher, Chris Mayhew, Chris Westfall, and Jonah Babins!  (Which made Kidlet doubly regret the decision to not attend.)
  • Staff appreciation and lessons from street performers.
  • Described a fabulous pseudo-controlled study on colours that increase tips! (Also pseudo-controlled for gender with surprising results.)
  • Demonstrated a fabulous tip for bar magicians to increase probability of receiving a big tip.  (I wonder how one could design a study to see if that methodology gives the same % tip increase for a man using the technique as for a woman using the technique?)
  • Something spontaneously happened at the 1 hour 15 minute mark that Kayla was totally expecting.  (I'm not entirely convinced that it wasn't just a case of a poorly worded question.)
  • If you aren't already, subscribe to Shezam, the feminist podcast that hopes to make itself obsolete.  The podcast has great tips and strategies for young women starting out in magic (No pockets? No problems!)  Carisa Hendrix and Kayla also share entertaining anecdotes about performing and lots of pro-tips too!
  • After the break, Kayla gave a fabulous hands-on lesson for colour changing bottle caps using a technique even I can master!
  • Good times, good fun, good magic.
  • Thank you Kayla!







22 December 2018

Random thoughts on "Champions of Magic"

Before I begin, have a peek at a snippet of the most recent Champions of Magic press release:
TORONTO, ON, December 21, 2018: Last night, the UK’s biggest large-scale illusion spectacle Champions Of Magic left Toronto spellbound after its spectacular opening night performance. Running for a limited-time engagement at The Bluma Appel Theatre (St Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St E.), with an unprecedented three shows a day, the popular production has to be seen to be believed.

As The Bluma Appel Theatre’s highest selling holiday extravaganza ever, ​Starvox Entertainment is proud to announce the addition of five new performances across the following dates, including a death-defying fourth show on January 5, for a total of 40 performances over 18 days!
  • Wednesday, December 26, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. EST
  • Thursday, December 27, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. EST
  • Friday, December 28, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. EST
  • Wednesday January 2, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST
  • Saturday January 5, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. EST

A four show day, 17 days into the run?  Death-defying indeed!


 

On with the show...


After missing out on the opportunity to interview Alex McAleer and Young & Strange live, I knew I had to jump on the chance when I was invited to attend Champions of Magic (especially after what Strange told me I missed by not making it to interview day).

We arrived early and had a chance to get the feel of the theatre.  The Bluma Appel Theatre seats just under 900 guests and is a cozy theatre.  I'd venture that there are no truly bad seats in the house.
  • I experienced my first feat of astonishment when the usher read my mind and gave me directions to the rest room before I'd even asked the question!
  • Kidlet observed that there were a lot of children in the audience and was surprised by the number of girls in attendance.
  • If not a sold out show, the theatre looked very close to capacity.
  • If you're chatting with Brendon at the merchandise table, tell him to visit the Browser's Den of Magic if he gets any off-time.  
  • The show is about an hour for the first half, 15 minutes intermission, and about an hour in the second half.
  • I am genuinely afraid of posting spoilers.  The less you know going in, the more you'll enjoy it.

Note to parents of young children:  The music can be very loud at times throughout the show.  There's also a smoke machine involved.  Forewarned is forearmed.

So. Much. Fun.

  • The show starts strong with Young and Strange and keeps up an astonishing pace.
  • As with Starvox Entertainment's Potted Potter, Champions of Magic is absolutely D'liteful!
  • The four acts are interwoven through out the night, which works really well at keeping each of the disciplines fresh.
  • Kayla Drescher, Alex McAleer, Fernando Velasco, and Young & Strange all do what they do very well indeed!
  • There's a tangible camaraderie among the cast.  Kidlet likened the feeling of the group to the team of illusionists in Now You See Me (but without the audience payout at the end of the show).
  • There's a tonne of audience participation with both children and adults!
  • One of the pieces performed was something submitted in the contest from earlier this month.  Can you guess what it was?
  • McAleer does impressive mind reading.  He even offers a wager with an audience member for a substantial amount of money. (And he knew how to pronounce "Toronto" like a local!)  If he asks you how you are, be sure to ask him how he's doing too, so he knows that Canadians are a caring bunch.
  • Velasco does more than impressive breathtaking, heart-stopping escapes.
  • Drescher did some mind-boggling close-up in the audience, a couple of types of "arts and crafts," and made her young volunteer, Malia, feel very special. (Also of note, Drescher's volunteer Andy, was very reluctant to break her heart.)
  • Young and Strange performed a super tight, high energy set while channeling their inner SARMOTI.  It's refreshing to see a man get put into boxes to be squished and skewered!  On a personal note, it was fun to see them perform an original illusion by Canadian magician Gerry Frenette.
  • Annalisa, the aerialist was fabulous! As were Brendon, Brandon and the rest of the stage crew and theatre crew.  Those folks hustled to keep the pace going.
  • I had many "how'd they do that?" thoughts, along with so many moments of joyous laughter, and periods of being completely enthralled in the spectacle.
  • Kidlet can't stop talking about the ending.  It caught us both completely by surprise!

Don't just take my word for it, have a read of Wayne Leung's post "Review: Champions of Magic (Starvox Entertainment)" from December 21, over at Mooney on Theatre.





Catch the Champions of Magic at The Bluma Appel Theatre through to January 6, 2019.  Tickets through Ticketmaster.

(Don't forget about Drescher's Toronto lecture in the New Year!) 



Disclosure:  Kidlet and I were guests at this show. The opinions expressed above are entirely my own. I did not receive compensation for the writing or the publishing of this article.


03 May 2018

Wild about "Wild Magic"

Through a long and convoluted series of events, I found myself (along with Kidlet, Kidlet's Other Parent (KOP), and Kidlet's Friend (KF)) at Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight stay on Good Friday.  It should come as no surprise that I viewed this as an opportunity to utilize some tickets that were gifted to me to see "Wild Magic" at the Greg Frewin Theatre. (Which reminds me, I owe a now very belated thank you note to the generous ticket gifter.)


Tip: Arrive to the theatre as early as you can to ensure good seating (the box office will let you know what time is best).   There's also a photo opportunity next the to lion statues by the front doors.
Note to parents: Bring along some distractions for little ones (such as crayons with paper, playing cards, books, quiet hand-held video games etc.) to help pass the time between arriving for the best seating and show time. 
If you think your child would be scared sitting right up close to the tigers at level one, level two offers an equally good view of the stage along with the sense of a physical barrier between you and the big cats.


Inside the theatre there's some entertainment while you wait.  We watched footage of Greg's tigers when they were adorable cubs.  People had their special occasions celebrated (happy belated birthday Donna, Jason, and Nicholas).  There were also short clips of some of the TV appearances Greg's made.  He's done a tonne of interviews!


My favourite part of the show, three viewings later, is still the illusion involving fire and water.
Here are some random thoughts that came to mind while watching "Wild Magic":
  • The show starts strong and keeps getting bigger and better.
  • There's a smattering of mentalism and close-up magic to keep things varied, but make no mistake, Greg's large illusions dominate the show!
  • KF's favourite part of the show: all of the tiger productions.
  • There are three large video screens making it easy to see the close-up parts from any seat in the house.
  • The show is different enough from the last time we were there, that it felt new to us.
  • It made me happy that some of my favourites (for example, the illusion with water and fire) are still in the show. 
  • It looked like the show was sold out.  (The house is deep and narrow and particularly good for viewing magic.  I don't think there's a bad seat.)
  • KOP's favourite illusion: when Greg makes one of his assistants 'dissolve' into a metal plate.
  • A good pair of theatre binoculars give you a seat upgrade!
  • The show involved newspapers, a parakeet (or was it a macaw?), an invisible deck, artwork, handcuffs, tigers, talented ladies, candles, fire, doves, a dog, tigers, kids, a little bit of Sting, and a little bit of Shania Twain.  And a whistle. (One of Kidlet's favourite parts.)
  • Greg even teaches a trick!
  • Kidlet's favourite illusion, three viewings later:  the one I referred to in 2012 as the "Assistants' Revenge."
  • As I've previously noted, how magicians treat audience members is something to which I pay close attention.  For me, one of the things that brought me great joy, was when Greg asked a young boy to come up on stage to help.  They boy said, "no."  Greg didn't miss a beat and went on to find someone else.  I think more kids were interested in helping out after that.  They got the sense that they weren't going to be pressured into doing something they didn't want to do.
  • Greg had an eye-popping and ambitious take on sawing a person into halves.  It was hard for me to count 'cause they kept moving things around, but I think that his poor assistant was broken up into 9 segments!
  • It is a really physically demanding show.
  • Greg and his crew deliver the same level of energy and passion for performing as I first witnessed six years ago!
  • The evening was fantastically entertaining! 


All the excitement and entertainment of a Las Vegas show, for a fraction of the cost!
(A deal made even better with the current exchange rate.)

During the intermission I was delighted to spot Sorcerers Safari alumnus Christian Mascia demonstrating magic.  He was doing an excellent job of it too.  He had a crowd gathered that was at least 8 people deep and practically engulfed him.  I'm sure he sold a lot of magic kits for Greg that night!

I should also note that I think I saw Ben up on stage doing what looked like a fabulous job assisting.

After the show we queued up for the photo illusion with tiger Cashmere.  Kidlet and KF had their photo taken.  The adults watched on, secure in the knowledge that the tiger trainer is right there keeping a careful watch at all times.  (And because we were getting two copies of the same photo, one each for Kidlet and KF, the second copy was half price!)

Note: The profits from the photos go to a tiger sanctuary, and to feed hungry tigers. 

After the show (photo or not) you can queue up for an autograph from, a bring-your-own-camera photo with, and have a quick chat with Greg!

If you get the chance, I highly recommend the "VIP backstage tour package add-on."  We experienced the backstage tour in 2016 and it was fabulous

Thank you to John, Alex, Erika, and everyone else involved in making it such a magical evening for my family.  A special thank you to Greg, for his hospitality and for sharing his magical talent!





02 October 2017

Random thoughts from "The Newest Trick in the Book"

The Newest Trick in the Book is back Tuesday October 3rd, at 8:30pm, for a FREE Halloween themed show, with Benzi Train, James Alan, James Harrison, and Shamus Mac Gregor!
Last month, I attended the September 5th edition of "The Newest Trick in the Book," billed as "Toronto's ONLY magic open-mic."

I had no idea what to expect from a magic open-mic.  I thought it might be a slightly more dressed up version of watching folks jam at the club or the magic shop.  As it turns out I'd previously seen most of the performers on this program both jamming casually and performing professionally.  Would the evening be a repeat of stuff I'd already seen?

The verdict:  no.  Well, sometimes yes.  But not really.

Let me explain.

The event takes place at  See-Scape Toronto, a sci-fi bar and gaming café.  It's a cozy space filled with wonderful people.  (And lots of games.)



Everything about the place is interesting.


You were probably wondering about the show.

The evening was a TONNE of fun.  The performances were elevated well beyond a typical jam.  Each of the performers had an energy that was different from what I expected of them.  Perhaps it was the buzz of doing something in front of an audience for the first time? 

It was also clear to me, that the performers were having more fun than usual too!  I witnessed the child-like excitement of bringing a new idea to life, the brilliance of turning the tables on an old standard, freshening up a classic, and the general enjoyment of working things out in front of a safe crowd.  (I've heard more than one professional espouse the importance of having a "safe place" to try things out in front of an audience.  I better appreciate the wisdom now.)

If you're in the Toronto area, I encourage you to both attend and perform at "The Newest Trick in the Book."



Trivia questions: who said what?

1) Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! a) Sammy Jakubowicz
2) Mr. Harrison, it's time for your medication. b) Chris Westfall
3) That's what I would do if I were in your position. But I'm a jerk. c) James Harrison
4) I'm not a thief, I'm a magician. d) James Alan



With thanks to the wonderful performers!













25 August 2017

[Guest post] Random thoughts about "UNBELIEVABLE! A Magical Experience"

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon. 

--
"UNBELIEVABLE! A Magical Experience"

Running nightly at 7:30 pm in the Pacific Coliseum at the PNE in Vancouver, BC until September 4th. Free with admission.  [The PNE is closed on Monday, Aug. 28th.]

Random Thoughts For Canada's Magic
by The Magic Demon



It's UNBELIEVABLE... that a whole year has gone by since the first edition of Unbelievable! debuted in 2016.

It's UNBELIEVABLE... how fast the 90 minute coliseum-size magical extravaganza whizzed by.

It's UNBELIEVABLE... again how good it was.

Performance viewed on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017.

Murray Hatfield and Teresa have returned to the annual summer PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) with their second incarnation of Unbelievable! - a  magical phantasmagoria of illusion, pyrotechnics, music and sheer wonder.

Joining them on stage are American magicians Chipper Lowell and Danny Cole and Canada's own Shawn Farquhar - all performing at the top of their games, combining unique energies to synthesize an evening's worth of spectacular visual entertainment.

I don't propose to review the show element by element  but I would like to refer to a few hastily scribbled notes and mention a few memorable highlights.

Murray and Teresa  - first and foremost and as always, magnificent performers, classy and compelling to watch. I love all their often fire-enhanced big box illusions. At one point they featured three big box illusions at once on stage (which must be some kind of world record!) Later they also did a show-stopping, breathtaking up to date version of "Metamorphosis." I've not seen it done in person since Doug Henning and his version for me was the one to beat. I think I can honestly say that they have finally done so. I was also truly impressed by Murray's innovative and suspense-filled variation of an effect familiar to some of us. I won't give away which one -- but when I saw it I marveled at his sheer brilliant audacity for turning such a classic close up effect into a coliseum-sized miracle. Murray, I salute you!



Chipper Lowell. What does one say about such a comedic phenomenon? He quickly won the audience over with his outrageous antics. We were soon laughing at all his seemingly spontaneous frenetic presentations. His very verbal style is ideally suited to such a massive forum (seating 10,000 at full capacity). It is hard to describe -- it's very "over the top" and somewhat "camp" but extremely focused even when it looks like he's made a mistake. (Hint: He doesn't.) It's hard to combine magic and outright comedy. To make it also look so easy and effortless as Lowell does is the mark of a real pro.

Another impressive talent is American Danny Cole. His silent act (done to the pounding beat of contemporary Latin dance music) assisted by his graceful wife, borders on the poetic. His suits change colour, his ties take on a life of their own, coat hangers behave most mysteriously, chairs defy gravity, CDs multiply, appear and disappear. Throughout these visual impossibilities appearing right before our eyes (and magnified by the two huge screens to each side of the stage) Cole remains the epitome of stylish, sophisticated elegance. This is a magician's magician.

For me, perhaps the most enjoyable moments of the evening were courtesy Canada's own Shawn Farquhar. His opening effects performed from the audience directly to the cameras were stunning card manipulations done to cleverly mirror the lyrics of an accompanying song. The audience loved it. But where he really excelled were his interactions with audience members. His version of "Topsy Turvy" bottles was a genuine delight because of his interaction with his audience volunteer. And it was his "Dancing Hankerchief" routine with a cute little five year old girl picked from the audience to assist him that so won everyone's hearts and unconditional appreciation. You could tell his volunteers really liked him and trusted him and the audience picked up on that. It was an invaluable lesson for all performers.

TIP: Bring earplugs unless you want to go partially deaf early in life. The music is loud.

I said it last year and I see no reason not to repeat myself again this year. Good advice is good advice!  If you are in or near Vancouver run (do not walk) to the PNE and see "Unbelievable! A Magical Experience." You will not regret it.

Congratulations to Murray and Teresa for masterminding another outstanding success.
 

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Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

15 August 2017

Random thoughts from "Magic Theory, or Magic Fact? Let's Find Out."

Updated August 16 to add:


You may remember that I had the good fortune of spending time with Michael Close at Sorcerers Safari.  (I even snagged a mini-interview with him.)  I was always thoroughly impressed with the wisdom he shared with his advanced card classes. 

When I heard Michael was lecturing locally, I knew I had to make it if I could.


From the Canada's Magic Twitter feed:



Sunday night, the stars aligned and I was able to attend "Magic Theory, or Magic Fact? Let's Find Out."


Also from the Canada's Magic Twitter feed:


Among other things, during the lecture Michael discussed:
  • theory's place in performance arts (with wonderful music analogies)
  • his wonderfully complete definition of magic
  • how to find (and cure) trouble spots in performance
  • the importance of emotion and intellect
  • the importance scripting
  • assumptions that laymen make
  • control, repose, and chaos
  • "The Big Lie"


We got to see some magic too!  Of note, he performed "Red Blue Mama Fooler" and then pointed out The Big Problem and how he fixed it.  I was also delighted with a yet to be published routine from his upcoming eBook "Paradigm Shift."

Attendees were provided a discount code for MichaelClose.com which includes The Workers series, and Closely Guarded Secrets.  We were also tipped to the great sale price of Magic in the Real World.  (And if you didn't already know, there's this little thing called "Magic In Mind" that you can get for free at Vanishing Inc, which includes an essay from Michael as well as 32 other highly regarded professionals.)

If you haven't seen the announcement, Michael is hosting a workshop with Jason England and Michael Weber (and perhaps an additional mystery guest) in October.  Only eight spots remain.

Bottom line, as with Phil Matlin's report from a 2014 lecture by Michael, I was very impressed!

Far out Magic Dude.

Read Michael's thoughts about his lecture.

The last Tweet from Canada's Magic Twitter feed:











08 November 2016

Random thoughts from the Browser's Den of Magic 41st anniversary party

I had the pleasure of spending some time at the Browser's Den of Magic 41st anniversary party on Sunday.  A great time, appeared to be had by all!  Here are a few random thoughts: