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

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 Brendan 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 Brendan, 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.


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 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:

22 July 2016

Random thoughts on "Chris Westfall Magic & the Porcelain Princess"

Last night I had the pleasure of catching "Chris Westfall Magic & the Porcelain Princess" at the Papermill Theatre (part of Todmorden Mills on Pottery Road, tucked in next to the DVP).  It's a cozy theatre that seats approximately 150.  I'm guessing there's not a bad seat in the house.

Kidlet had this to say about the show:
  • If you ask me what my favourite part is, my answer would be "the beginning to the end."

Kidlet's friend added:
  • If I were half as good a magician as Chris Westfall, I'd call myself incredible!

Here are some random thoughts that came to mind about Thursday night's show:
  • Ben Train kept the kids captivated in the lobby while we waited for things to get started.
  • Chris made the kids laugh as he gave the audience a pre-show sneak peak at Bella
  • From the beginning, Chris and Bella, deliver a very visual and high-energy show!
  • Bella elegantly defied the laws of physics with, among other things, a crystal ball, rings, and a hula hoop.
  • (Was I the only one tickled by the visual pun of the dolly being taken off stage on a dolly?)
  • Chris masterfully executed illusions large and small.
  • Mouth shuffling was unexpectedly entertaining! 
  • A Pokéman Go player made a timely and unexpected cameo.
  • This is a volunteer intensive show.  By my count there were eight delightful children and one good-natured adult brought up on stage.
  • The volunteers were fabulous, and made the evening so much fun for everyone!
  • Chris expertly engaged the children, and had them eating out of the palm of his hand (figuratively). 
  • Hang out after the show for post-show photos, autographs, and a meet & greet!
  • "Is it magic, or is it illusion?"

To learn more about this family friendly show, visit Chris Westfall Magic.  You can purchase tickets for tonight's show (Friday July 22) at Eventbrite.

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.

28 April 2016

Random thoughts on Greg Frewin's "Wild Magic"

My first visit to the Greg Frewin Theatre was almost four years ago.  Kidlet and I had an absolutely wonderful time, and I'd been looking for an excuse to go and see Greg's new show, "Wild Magic."  The universe was paying attention, because earlier this year I was gifted tickets to see "Wild Magic" by some wonderful people!  (I guess the cat's out of the bag that I like magic!)

Greg's appearance at this year's Browser's Magic Bash whet my interest enough that earlier this month we made the trek back to Niagara Falls.

We booked our tickets on a beautiful sunny Friday.  (I was determined to break my curse of The Rainy Drive to or from Niagara Falls.  Kidlet's Other Parent (KOP) drove this time though, so I don't know if I broke the curse or it just doesn't apply when KOP is present.)

Our schedules didn't allow us to make a day of Niagara Falls.  We consulted with Google to find out how long the trek might take, and added an additional 30 minutes to the longest estimated time in an attempt to get us to the theatre by 7pm.  If traffic was good, as it should be in nice weather, we'd be in town early enough to take a walk by the Falls and see a sight or two.

Tip: Arrive as early as you can to ensure good seating (the box office will let you know what time is best).  

Apparently, because of the nice weather, everyone was out in their car on our path to the theatre.  In spite of using all the HOV lanes available to us, traffic did not cooperate.  We arrived in the parking lot at 7:22pm, for a 7:30pm show.  (Thank goodness for a spacious parking lot!)  I was frazzled and desperately had to use the bathroom.
Note to parents:  If you can organize yourselves better than we did and get to the theatre with time to spare, there's a nice photo opportunity for your little ones next to lion statues by the front doors.

We piled into the building and the lovely staff at the box office had our tickets waiting for us, calmly showed us to the restrooms, and then showed us to our booth.  We were no sooner seated when the lights went down and the show started.

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, juggling, and close-up magic to keep things varied, but make no mistake, Greg's large illusions dominate the show!
  • There were three large video screens making it easy to see the close-up parts from any seat in the house.
  • The show was different enough from the last time we were there, that it felt new to us.
  • It made me happy that some of my favourites from last time (like the one with water and fire) are still in the show. 
  • I was disappointed, that with our late arrival, we ended up sitting as far stage-right as you could.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the view from the seats was still remarkably good!  (The house is deep and narrow and particularly good for viewing magic.)
  • A good pair of theatre binoculars gives you a seat upgrade, no matter where you go!
  • The show involved a sports car, an invisible deck, tigers, talented ladies, candles, fire, doves, a dog, tigers, kids, Chuck the Duck, a macaw, and a little bit of Sting.  (On seeing the red macaw, Kidlet asked where the blue one was that we saw last time.  This show makes quite a lasting impression!)
  • Some of the illusions from 2012 are still in the show, but with very different presentations.  It's fun to see how things get reimagined and repurposed!
  • I was delighted to learn that Boomer, the Siberian tiger who battled cancer, was back in the show.
  • The show is fabulously 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.)

The show is just the tip of the iceberg.

After the show we queued up to have our photo taken with tiger Cashmere.  Even though KOP and I were hamming it up for the camera by looking scared, there was nothing scary about the experience.   The tiger trainer is right there keeping a careful watch at all times.

In the cage with Cashmere.

Part of the profits from the items in the magical gift shop, including the photo sales, are used to support a tiger sanctuary. 

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!

And that's not all!

If you want to experience the "ultimate magical experience" you can opt for the "VIP backstage tour package add-on."  As part of this experience:
  • We had our photo taken with Greg in front of one of the show props.
  • With Greg at the VIP backstage tour.
  • Greg answered any question tossed his way.  (Except for one.)
  • We learned lots about tigers, spent some time with Rocky, and watched some video of Greg's tigers.
  • The group of us got to stand on the stage and watch his blue macaw in action!
  • We met Shira the white Siberian tiger.  Here's a photo of her from 2012:
  • We were lucky and got to pet her!  Have a look at a more recent photo of Shira!
  • Shira was drinking from a baby bottle the whole time, and the staff were lovingly and patiently wiping up anything that spilled.  Hats off to tiger trainer John Ferrara and to all of Greg's animal handlers.  They clearly love the animals and love what they do!
  • Greg entertained a wide variety of questions from the group.

Dare I say it? The post-show experience is almost as exciting as the show itself.  We had an incredible evening!

I pet a tiger!

Thank you to Alex, Kaitlin, Terry, John, Cooper, 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!

Last but not least, thank you to the lovely people who gave me this purrfect gift!

17 March 2016

Random thoughts on "Outerbridge Clockwork Mysteries"

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Marion and Ted Outerbridge perform their show "Clockwork Mysteries" last month.  They had just completed a 5,500 mile US lecture tour.  I caught them at the Milton Centre for the Arts.
[As an aside, I encourage you to go and see a show at this fabulous 500 seat theatre.  It's approximately 25 minutes west of Toronto's western border.  The facilities are modern and spacious.  On the lower level, it appears that all seats have amazing sight lines.  (I didn't venture up to the balcony.)  The seats are a little bit wider than standard theatre seats, which makes them very comfortable!  They offer amenities like a coat check (by donation) and the ability to pre-order intermission refreshments.  Best of all, parking is free and plentiful.]

Here are some random thoughts that came to mind while watching their amazing time travel themed show:
  • A fast paced, extremely entertaining, high-energy show.
  • All illusions, big and small, were masterfully performed.
  • Greta the Psychic Goose earns her keep.
  • There is a nice ratio of grand illusion, intimate magic, and mentalism.
  • I really enjoy watching "assistants" do magic in their own right.  Marion owns it!
  • Those of you who know me well, know that my opinion of magicians is heavily weighted on how they treat their audience members.  One of my favourite moments in the show, lasted no more than 2 seconds.  Ted walked into the audience to select a volunteer.  He found someone he wanted to bring on stage.  She said, "no."  Instead of cajoling or otherwise pressuring her, he simply moved on and found someone else.  That's how you make the audience feel like you can be trusted to treat them right.  Show people respect from the get go.
  • Ted has a knack for picking awesome audience volunteers.  Six year old Archer was a really good sport and owned that stage!
  • Nine year olds can't be trusted to count down from 90.
  • Ted's disco ball jacket is a thing of sheer beauty!
  • I love that audiences in 2016, still enjoy watching someone get sawed in half, into halves, into two pieces.  
  • Among other wonderful pieces, we were treated to: "The Psychic is Right,"  "The Time Machine," "Alarm Clock," "Floating Barricade Light," "Outside of the Box," and their elegantly performed "Levitation."
  • The biggest mystery of the night for me:  How does Marion manage all of those costume changes?

If you get a chance to see them perform their show "Clockwork Mysteries," go and see it!

(If you're at the upcoming CAM convention, you'll get a taste of their show in the Grand Gala performance at the CAMaraderie Convention/Festival de magie de Québec on April 23, 2016.  They're also scheduled to perform at SAM New York's "2016 Salute to Magic" on May 7th.)

To learn more about this fabulous duo, listen to the Scott Wells' podcast 278: The Inner Secrets of the Outerbridges or visit their website at

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.

26 September 2015

[Guest post] Report on "Morton the Magician and his Magnificent Magic Show"

I was generously provided a copy of "Morton the Magician and his Magnificent Magic Show." This book, which was shortlisted for an Alberta Children’s Literature Award, is intended for young readers. With that in mind, I found a youthful reader who agreed to read and give me their feedback on the book.  

(For more on 
"Morton the Magician and his Magnificent Magic Show" skip to the bottom of the post.)

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


My thoughts on Sheldon Casavant's book "Morton the Magician and his Magnificent Magic Show."
  • This is a good picture book for parents to read to their kids.
  • I really like the drawings, they're very nice.
  • Morton is someone that children can relate to.
  • I like that there are two tricks in the book that you can do by yourself. 
  • It's funny that the rabbit is the announcer.
  • If I were younger, it would make me want to try doing magic tricks.
  • Parents, if your child under 6 years old likes magic or wants to be a magician, this is the perfect book for them!

Favourite things:
  • I like the words in the air before Morton's show, letting us know what's going on inside his head.
  • The story tells us we can be anything we want to be if we just put our minds to it.

In conclusion:
  • It's a fun story!

Thank you Kidlet for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

Watch Behind the Scenes of "Morton the Magician" on Sheldon's YouTube channel:

21 June 2015

Random thoughts from the Ring 17 year end banquet

  • The year end comes far too quickly.
  • People drive a long distance to come to these events.
  • A group of magicians is very good at entertaining themselves and each other during delays.
  • The young people today spell llama differently than I was taught.
  • The even younger people have a totally different approach to llamas.
  • La llama es una quadrupido
                                                   ... but I digress.
  • In their show "Sketchy Magic," Chris Mayhew and Chris Westfall give a crazy and high-energy performance as one would expect with individual lecture titles like "Calculated Chaos" and "Mayhew Mayhem."
  • Rumour has it that Chris Harvison, Andrew Goss and James Alan are back on the executive next year.  And that Phil Pivnick will be joining them.
  • Next season opens with a David Ben lecture.
  • Thank you Ring 17 for another great season!

26 February 2015

Fun Family Day at Dave and Busters

Ontario's Family Day long weekend was just over a week ago.  (As a bonus for the kids it was an extra long, long weekend because of a school Professional Activities day tacked onto the Friday before.)  Going into the weekend, I had high hopes for a low key, low stress relaxing weekend that would include outdoor activities such as skating and tobogganing.

The Universe had other ideas.  To be fair, there was lots of sleeping in and it was very low key and low stress.  (Thank you to the public library for letting us borrow from your DVD collection.)  The weather outside, however, was close to minus 400 degrees with the windchill and I am not a fan of doing anything in that kind of cold.

On the weekend a Tweet from Bill Abbott caught my attention:
"CHICO IS BACK!!! 2 shows only. This Monday 2pm and 4pm"

How could I resist?

We arrived at Dave and Busters an hour before showtime and were warmly greeted at the door by Ben Train.  After we bought our tickets (bring cash), we went into the theatre to find our seats and settle in.  I was very impressed to find that the theatre was almost half full already.  We ordered some yummy food and passed the time by teaching Kidlet how to do a Bruce Posgate knot with the table decor.

Some notes on the show:
  • About 10 minutes before showtime, the room was completely sold out.  
  • Bobby Motta did a great job of warming up the crowd.
  • Bill Abbott was in fine form.
  • Kidlet has seen an effect created by Bill, performed a number of times by people who have purchased his product.  It was very educational for Kidlet to see Bill perform it himself!  (And it's always entertaining.)
  • It was a delight for me to finally see Bill live, performing someThing I had only seen him do on video.  (And it looks great live!)
  • After all these years, Chico is just as precocious as ever.
  • Some magical items were on sale after the show ... parents bring some extra cash.
  • The show was very entertaining and well worth the ticket price!

As a bonus, on your way out after the show everyone receives a game card which gives you unlimited play on all the non-ticketed games in The Midway.  Needless to say we spent a good chunk of time exploring all the offerings!  (And got some virtual snowboarding and skiing in to boot.)

Thank you Ben, Bill, Bobby and Dave & Busters for being a part of such a fabulous Family Day outing!

From Ben Train's Twitter feed:

19 December 2014

Report: Michael Close lecture

From Perfect Magic's Facebook page:

A reminder that Mike Close will be performing at (20% discount at Magic Tonight with coupon code cmagic):

* Offer is subject to change without notice.  Canada's Magic earns a commission when you use the coupon code cmagic.

11 November 2014

[Guest post] Report on Forcing the Ace

previously mentioned that I enjoyed Erin Thomas new novel, "Forcing the Ace," from the Orca Limelights series.  However, I'm not the target audience (the book is intended for children ages 11 to 14).  With that in mind, I found a young reader who agreed to read and give me their feedback on the book.

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


My thoughts on  "Forcing the Ace" by Erin Thomas:
  • It was a really good book!
  • The synopsis at the back of the book really makes you want to read the book.
  • I wish it was longer.
  • Some chapters made me want to stop reading and practise magic or learn card tricks.

Favourite things:
  • Everyone (boys and girls) can relate to the characters.
  • Kids know what it's like to try and get their parents' permission to do things they want to do while trying to keep up with school.
  • The accident wasn't as bad as it could have been.
  • Injuries were common ground for the two main characters.
  • The girl at the hospital with the shaved teddy bear.
  • The boy and the girl have to figure out how to work together.
  • The book teaches the reader how to deal with difficult people.
  • How the main characters ended their routine.
  • The line about the advantage of being a female magician.

What I learned:
  • Magic can help with physiotherapy.
  • Being in a hospital can be boring.
  • When you're performing and you make a mistake, it may be hard but you can recover.
  • Having fun and connecting with an audience (including things like stage presence and showmanship) can be just as important as technique.

In conclusion:


Enter today to win your copy of Forcing the Ace!

Thank you Kidlet for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

08 October 2014

Report: David Kaplan and Buster Keaton

Last night I attended my first magic lecture since moving to Montréal. David Kaplan, also known as The Great Kaplan, shared some tips, tricks, and stunts from his professional repertoire.

Since I’m in this city to research the relationship between magic and other circus disciplines, I enjoyed hearing Kaplan’s thoughts on variety material. He performed a version of the torn and restored newspaper for us that ends with a giant, over-sized newspaper that he gets tangled up in. The inspiration for this piece came from a Buster Keaton film

Read more.

19 August 2014

Report: Asi Wind at the Comedy Nest

We don’t get out a whole lot. We used to when we were younger, but now, after a day at the magic shop we are happy to go home and relax. But Asi Wind, New York  Mentalist and Mind-Reader, was giving a one man show at the Comedy Nest at the old Montreal Forum and we wanted to see him as we had heard about him of course but never had seen him.

Read more.

10 August 2014

Random thoughts about "An honest liar"

From special correspondent Derek, who was at the screening of "An honest liar" on Friday night:
  • The film sketched Randi's early career and then moved on to detail his high-profile debunking of Uri Gellar, faith healers, the channeling movement and paranormal research. It concluded with the deception is his own life: the identity fraud committed by his partner.
  • It shone a light on the ethics of disproof by deception.
  • It contrasted his public face proclaiming honesty, and his private face where he kept a couple of big secrets.
  • It's interesting, go see it!

In addition:
  • Randi performed a quick rope tie routine.
  • There was a meet and greet as well as photo ops.
  • Birthday cake was involved.

06 July 2014

Linking Ring (v94, 6) June 2014

There's a nice write-up of Murray Hatfield's lecture for Ring 352 in State College, Pennsylvania on page 54.

20 June 2014

Random thoughts on The Uncertainty Project

Last night I had the pleasure of attending The Uncertainty Project by James Alan.  I had spent the day volunteering my time for the benefit of school age children and had already experienced more than my share of excitement and uncertainty.  (All's well that ends well, thankfully.)  I was a little apprehensive about filling my evening with more uncertainty.  I'm glad I did.

  • There will never, ever be a show exactly like the show I saw.  (At least, it's highly improbable.)
  • The audience is a wild card for which it is nearly impossible to be completely prepared.
  • I find it hard to live tweet and watch a show at the same time.  (I really do know how to spell your name Mahdi.)
  • As near as I can tell, no rabbits were harmed in the creation of the show.
  • Any show with links to Heisenberg, Einstein, Fermat, Schrödinger, and Douglas Adams, is cool in my books.
  • I'm not ashamed to admit that I was "one of the two people" who was bothered by claims made on the third piece of glass. I checked.  I'm not going to tell you what I discovered.
  • Sometimes it's a good thing that magicians are tall.
  • Arithmetic is important.
  • Crowdsourcing seems to be a surprisingly effective way to get out of a jam.
  • There were some very powerful moments.
  • I was absolutely entertained.

The Uncertainty Project continues for two more nights.