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Showing posts with label Kayla Drescher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kayla Drescher. Show all posts

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.


















02 November 2019

A(nother) peek behind the curtain with Sam Strange

Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON      
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON        
Read more and buy tickets.


A peek behind the curtain with Sam Strange border= 

You may remember the fabulous interview, "A peek behind the curtain with Young and Strange," from December of last year.  I was delighted to receive an invitation to take a second pass at an email interview with Sam Strange (the taller half of Young and Strange) as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.

Many of you know that Strange orchestrated a most wonderful surprise last June for Richard Young and The Magicians' Podcast.  






You've toured a number of countries.  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?
That run of shows we did in Toronto (in December 2018) is generally considered by the cast to be some of the best shows we have ever done, with some of the best audiences we have ever performed to. That maybe in part due to the perfect theatre for the show and at Christmas time when everyone is in a great mood anyway. Young and I did have to evolve the humour and delivery for our act for American audiences, but it does seem that the Canadian audiences sense of humour is a little more aligned with the British.


What interests do you have outside of magic?
 

The 2 interests I’m about to list don’t do my reputation any favours.

Manmade underground structures.
Included in that are tunnels, bunkers and mines. Specifically NOT caves. As we all know, caves are dull.

Prisons. Difficult to articulate why or how those interests have come about it. If I were a betting man (which Young will testify is the case) I would say it’s the human history and sinister nature of both. Prisons are renowned for the evil held within and most places built underground are not for the living.

I am mindful that this answer has given good ammunition in the next round of off stage ribbing from other cast members.

What are your thoughts on touring life?
If you ever get the chance to be a part of a touring show on the scale of Champions of Magic, take it.

It’s an insane experience when I reflect on it. There's a cast and crew of 14 people all travelling together, who are all passionate about magic, who are all decent people and who are all as invested in the show as anyone else  It’s constantly peppered with euphoric highs. As you can imagine, the show is the focus and pretty much all conversations outside of the theatre relate in someway back to the show. I think it’s important to have a bit of escapism from time to time and respect other peoples space when they need it.




Do you have any pre-show rituals?
 
As it’s a mixed bill of magicians, it’s always important to get the best response from the audience. I often perform a routine of sabotage on the other magicians props. It’s enormously helpful to making our act peacock ahead of the others and subsequently helps to prop up my misplaced ego.

What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?
As a double act we are fortunate because we can be a catalyst for each other during the performance. If I feel Young’s delivery or energy dip during the performance (or vice versa) we can pick each other up, feeding from each others enthusiasm. I also find that putting the ‘work’ into perspective really helps. [Last December's 17 day run of] 41 shows sounds impressive and tiring, but I’m not at a coalface and I am living my dream. The least I can do to sustain that is to look engaged and interested while on stage.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick?
My hands are tied. This is an interview for Canada's Magic and it’s important to do everything I can to win you round.
Therefore my answer can only be Doug Henning.

Fortunately not only is that a politically astute answer, but it’s also pretty true. The vibrancy, colour and pure joy of his act would be so much fun to do.
[Editor's note: Truly a terrific answer.  AND it shares internal consistency with last December's interview.  Well done!]



Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
On a personal level, I love being a part of the Champions of Magic show. In buying a ticket and coming to support the show you are allowing me, and many other people I tour with, to live their childhood dreams. Think of it as a charity and spread the word for the next run of Canadian shows.



 


Thank you Sam Strange of Young and Strange for making the time to answer more of our questions!

Catch the Champions of Magic on tour in Canada!


Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON      
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON         
Read more and buy tickets.

26 October 2019

A(nother) peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer

Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON      
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON        
Read more and buy tickets.


A peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer 

You may remember the wonderful interview, "A peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer," from December of last year.  I was delighted to receive an invitation to take a second pass at an email interview with McAleer as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.

If you haven't already, check out his YouTube channel where he hosts his series Mind Games in addition to his Champions of Magic tour vlog.






What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?

Although my act has a solid structure, each show is different as the audience play a big part in deciding what happens, whether they know it or not. So it becomes a bit like improv for me. That helps to keep it fresh, but I always try to keep my energy and enthusiasm up for each and every audience because it might be 1000th time I’ve done the show but for them it’s their first time seeing it.

You've toured a number of countries.  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?  
Canadian audience have the North American enthusiasm like crowds in the U.S. but feel a bit more like the audiences back home in the UK in terms of their sense of humour.

Do you have any advice for touring magicians?
Advice for touring magicians...
  • Travel light.
     
  • Don’t use a roller bag. They can never fit them all in the overhead bins on a flight. 
     
  • Save locations like coffee shops, stores, restaurants, whatever, on Google maps so when you go back again for more shows or whatever, you’ve got a list of your favourite locations.
     
  • Take time to see things the town or city is known for. Ask a local, especially Uber drivers.
     
  • If you find good WiFi somewhere, use it wisely - download films, books, podcasts, whatever you need. You’ll regret it later if you don’t.
     
  • Steal all the free toiletries from hotels. They might come in handy on the road, or make disappointing gifts for people you don’t like very much.
     
  • Have something to do in the downtime. Usually I’m editing a tour vlog, or writing up some new ideas. Kayla and Young both have podcasts.  [Editor's note:  podcasts are Shezam Pod and The Magicians' Podcast respectively.]


What interests do you have outside of magic?
Film. Art. Cooking. Gym. Laughing. Anthropomorphising inanimate objects. Not always in that order.
Do you have any tour or pre-show rituals?

Not really as I’m not at all superstitious. However, I always brush my teeth before a show but that’s more of a courtesy to participants that join me on stage and makes me smile more on stage.

If you were to ask the others what McAleer likes to do pre-show they’d say get ready ridiculously early; costume and mic on, ready to go, long before I need to.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick?
Something from ‘Into The Woods’ ... maybe doubling up as the Wolf and one of the Princes as they get the songs that would be most fun to perform.

Those are fun parts! You can't go wrong with Sondheim.






Thank you Alex McAleer for making the time to answer our questions.


Catch the Champions of Magic on tour in Canada!



Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON      
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON        
Read more and buy tickets.




19 October 2019

A peek behind the curtain with Kayla Drescher

Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON       <<<  ** recent addition **
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON         <<<  ** recent addition **
Read more and buy tickets.


A peek behind the curtain with Kayla Drescher 

I was delighted to receive an invitation to email interview Kayla Drescher, as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.  You may know already know Drescher as the winner of the Today Show's “The Next Great Magician” (judged by David Copperfield), from appearing on season four of Penn and Teller Fool Us, or from lecturing in Toronto last January

(Read on to learn more about Drescher's connection to the Canadian magician known as "The Beauty of Magic.")






Who inspires you magically?

My mentors are a couple from Indianapolis - Christian and Katalina.  They are my biggest inspiration magically.  I enjoy watching magicians that are grounded and “real”, like you want to buy them a beer after the show.  That’s what I aim for as a performer and am inspired by those that do the same.




What is your first memory of magic?
 

My first memories were from seeing magic at a magic shop at 7 years old.  That’s where I caught the “bug.”
Why do you think people are still fascinated by magic, especially live magic? 
Because it’s happening directly in front of you.  When magic is happening with no screen or special CGI, it adds to the impossibility.  Add in magic happening in your hands… well there’s nothing better.


Where do you find non-magical inspiration?
 

I love watching dance and choreographers tell a story through movement, listening to music that motivates something magically, or watching a movie suspend the audience’s disbelief and transport you to another world.  Comedy is also a huge influence, especially improv and character-based sketch comedy.  I’m also super inspired by Celine Dion and basically everything she does, especially her fashion.  My choice for clothing on stage is highly motivated by hers. 
What’s is it about Champions of Magic that has allowed you to draw large audiences on 6 UK tours and 3 North American tours over the past six years?
Champions of Magic features every type of magic you could possibly imagine while keeping it fun for the whole family.  But really what we feature over any other show, TV program, movie, etc, is us.  The 5 performers have strong, enjoyable, and engaging personalities.  You get to know us individually and as a performing “family.”  We truly enjoy touring together and you can see that on stage.  We probably feature more high-fives than any other show has.  Audience members come back show after show because they enjoy “hanging out” with us.  And because the audiences are different, the show is just a little different each time, making each show super memorable.    We work hard to make the show not just magically impressive, but an absolutely fun time.



What surprised you most about performing in different countries?  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?
The biggest difference is the style of humor.  Because I’m primarily comedy/improv based, I have to study what each audience would find funny.  What I love most about Canadian audiences is the immediate excitement when the show starts.  The roar of the audience when the lights go down is everything a performer wants to hear.  We LOVE LOVE LOVE performing for Canadian audiences and cannot wait to do it again!

Do you have a favourite touring anecdote and / or any advice for touring magicians?
There are so many stories from tour and we certainly don’t have time for them all.  My favorites come from pranking Sam Strange, like when he leaves his belongings on stage during rehearsals and I hide them in one of the cup holders in a 4,000 seat theater.  That’s always fun.

My biggest advice is to just be open to any adventure the tour can bring.  I’ve tried different foods, seen amazing parts of various countries, and rode my first Bird scooter (which I fell off) with the tour.  It’s like an adventure of no other so make the most of it!


 

With respect to your connection to Canadian magic, most of our readers will be familiar with the podcast you do with Carisa Hendrix (Shezam! the podcast hopes to make itself obsolete), and many will know about your connection with the Toronto magic crew.  Do you have any other connections to Canadian magic?
I was influenced by Greg Frewin at a young age.  And there's also Celeste Evans.
I first met Celeste Evans and her daughter Evanna at a magic convention when I was roughly 15/16 years old.  Celeste was a hero of mine, being such a trailblazer in the community and having created a full stage act in a tight dress and no suit jacket (which I was wearing at the time).  Celeste often offered unprompted advice to young magicians, especially women in the community.  She was an amazing human being and a fantastic magicians.

When she passed away, Evanna kindly sent me some of her magic-themed jewelry. After I finished crying of pure joy and honor, the jewelry quickly made its way into my usual performance attire.  Her necklace charm, in the shape of a hand with 4 multiplying balls, is what I mainly wear every show, although the ring in the same shape is often on my hand.  I’m honored to carry on a piece of Celeste through everything I do.  


Do you have any tour or pre-show rituals?

I lay on the floor a lot. It’s very comfortable.  Then I do a ton of dancing to loosen up and get happy, give Fernando a high-five, and get on with the show!
You sometimes perform extremely dense runs.  What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?
I try to change little things about my show each time I start to feel myself get complacent.  It could be adding in a new joke, doing a different dance, wearing a new jacket or shoes, just anything to change things up a bit.  We also all try to keep things fresh, from playing tag on stage to making each other laugh in the wings.  I’m thankful to be with a group of people that all know how to have fun and keep things fresh.

What interests do you have outside of magic?
I’m a big basketball fan and keep up with the WNBA and women’s college basketball regularly.  I try to read a lot but always just end up watching Harry Potter.  And I have a really great dog that I enjoy snuggling with.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick?
Elphaba from Wicked.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
California weather. I’d share California weather with all of Canada.

Ohhh... best gift ever! Don't forget to bottle some for yourself though.  You'll need it when you hit SK in January!


Thank you Kayla Drescher for making the time to answer our questions!



Catch the Champions of Magic on tour in Canada!


Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON       <<<  ** recent addition **
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON         <<<  ** recent addition **
Read more and buy tickets.

12 October 2019

A(nother) peek behind the curtain with Richard Young

Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON       <<<  ** recent addition **
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON         <<<  ** recent addition **
Read more and buy tickets.


A peek behind the curtain with Richard Young border= 

You may remember the fabulous interview, "A peek behind the curtain with Young and Strange,"  from December of last year.  I was delighted to receive an invitation to take a second pass at an email interview with Richard Young (one half of Young and Strange) as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.

Many of you already know Young through his podcast, "The Magician's Podcast."  He's interviewed a handful of Canadians including Darcy Oake, Billy Kidd, and Greg Frewin.   Last June, Young aired an epic 100th (and final) episode, where he interviewed his magic idol David Copperfield.  The Magic Circle recently recognized the outstanding contribution to magic made by Young through his podcast.


From the Magicians' Podcast Twitter feed:






You've toured a number of countries.  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?
I think the shows we did in Toronto last Christmas were some of the best shows we have ever done in our six year history. We did so many shows back to back and it was really hard work however the enthusiastic audiences kept us going and our spirits high. I think enthusiasm and energy is what I notice specifically about the Canadian audiences.


Do you have any advice for touring magicians?
 
My top tip for other touring magicians is to buy more underwear, washing machines are hard to find on tour sometimes.
Do you have a favourite touring anecdote?
Touring with Champions of Magic has been the greatest adventure of my life. I remember arriving in North America with the show for the first time in September 2017 about to embark on our first US Tour, it was one of the most thrilling times of my life. I couldn’t believe we had finally made it to America, it had been secretly talked about for a couple of years and I was worried it might never happen. Two days after we arrived we threw out the first pitch at a Cleveland Indians game in front of 30000 people to help promote the show. It really felt like we had ‘arrived in that second.’



What interests do you have outside of magic?
 

I am a huge Musical Theatre fan, I saw both Come From Away and Hamilton last week here in the U.K, I can’t get enough of Come From Away it was the 4th time I have seen it, the London cast are extraordinary.

I also have a weird life long obsession with the Titanic Disaster and know an awful lot about it, from design and conception through to the inquiries that followed the sinking and also how the wreck was found in 1985. If you’re ever struggling to sleep, give me a call and I’ll talk you through Lord Mersey’s inquiry, it was an absolute cluster f**k.
What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?
The fact we are facing forward and talking to the audience as opposed to being in scene or play where we pretend the audience isn’t there means the interaction with the audience will help to keep it fresh night after night. There are a few exercises taught to us by our director which we do during long runs to make sure we are still ‘in the room’ while the show is going on. The same sort of techniques they teach to actors and musical theatre performers on Broadway who do the same role every night in the same theatres for sometimes a couple of years in a row.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick?
I fantasise about being Javert from Les Miserable quite a bit, however I think if I’m being honest with myself I probably suit Thernadier more. I think I would also be a good Monsier Firmin in Phantom too. 
Could Young play Javert?

Listen to Richard Young interview Andy Nyman in episode 85 and you be the judge.  (The whole interview is fabulous, but the Javert part in particular comes shortly after the 1:14 mark.)

Listen to what Irish tenor Killian Donnelly thinks. Donnelly recently appeared in a West End production of Les Mis as Jean Valjean. 
I know all the words to both parts already so if anyone is reading this looking to fill those parts let me know. I would drop Champions of Magic like a sack of s**t to be in either of those two shows,

this may seem in written published form as a kinda bizarre form of career suicide from Champions however I know Alex the producer of our show wouldn’t take offense to my remarks and if anything would encourage me too do it, he loves both shows as much as I do and would completely understand.
[Editor's note: We certainly hope Alex is as understanding as you say he is!]


Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
If you haven’t seen Champions of Magic before, I do really think you’d enjoy spending an evening with us.

If you’re a magician, you won’t like everything you see, however I promise you will love some stuff and have a great time slagging off the stuff you didn’t, so you have nothing to lose, I hope to see you at one of the shows.



 


Thank you Richard Young of Young and Strange for making the time to answer more of our questions!

Catch the Champions of Magic on tour in Canada!


Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON       <<<  ** recent addition **
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
  • 2/29/20    Rama, ON         <<<  ** recent addition **
Read more and buy tickets.

05 October 2019

A peek behind the curtain with Fernando Velasco

Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON    TD Place    <<<  ** recent addition **
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
Read more and buy tickets.


A peek behind the curtain with Fernando Velasco 

I was delighted to receive an invitation to email interview Fernando Velasco, as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.  You may already know that Velasco was presented with the 2018 Junior Achievement Award at the Magic Castle earlier this year.







What is your first memory of magic?

I must have been around 7, and my dad (who lived in the US while i still lived in Mexico) took me a DVD from the US with a number of magicians on it. there i started to fall in love with magic.

I used to think "THAT is real magic" and would invite all my neighborhood friends to come over and watch this DVD with "REAL magic."

Who inspires you magically?
Mexican magician Joaquin Ayala, along with Copperfield, and naturally HOUDINI.


What would have been in store for you had you not caught the magic bug?  
Maybe if I could sing, a singer



Why do you think audiences are still drawn to escapes, sleight of hand, and illusion?
Magic still gives people a feeling of "wonder."


Who inspires you that is not a magician?
 

Mexican singer Alejandro Fernandez as it feels like he gives it all on stage every time.
What's special about Champions of Magic draws large audiences on 6 UK tours and 3 North American tours over the past 6 years?
There is nothing like a good magic show LIVE. Not on TV or online, BUT LIVE.



You've performed in many different countries. Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?
They are up for the fun.


Do you have any pre-show rituals?
 
I sing, terribly but I try to sing.  As well as sometimes I watch live performances of my favorite singers/bands. I feel like I take on their energy for the show.
Do you have a favourite touring anecdote and / or advice for touring magicians?
Too many to tell!
 
(Sam) Strange and I often go urban exploring and that's fun.

Advice: Have fun on and off stage!




What interests do you have outside of magic?
 

Sports.
What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?
Doing little things to have fun with the other performers and crew on stage.  Like playing tag on stage (without the audience noticing anything) among other small things.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick and why? 
Aladdin.  Because I had a dream I played him!






What's your Canadian connection to magic?
I saw Greg Frewin's show last year.

Velasco also experienced, for his very first time, the magic of real snow in Toronto last December!


Thank you Fernando Velasco for making the time to answer our questions!



Catch the Champions of Magic on tour in Canada!




Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON    TD Place    <<<  ** recent addition **
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
Read more and buy tickets.









18 September 2019

Champions of Magic are coming back!

I was also lucky to score interviews in 2018 with two of the four acts in the show.  Have a read:
I had the privilege of seeing Champions of Magic with Kidlet last December. So. Much. Fun! You can read my random thoughts about their show here.


From the Champions of Magic:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/14/19   Oshawa, ON
  • 12/15/19   Laval, QC
  • 1/16/20     Saskatoon, SK    SaskTel Centre
  • 1/17/20     Regina, SK    Conexus Arts Centre
  • 1/26/20     Prince George, BC
Read more and buy tickets.


From the Champions of Magic Facebook page:


28 August 2019

Drescher and Hendrix at the Magic Castle

From Shezam's Facebook page:
As far as anyone can tell, this is the first time two solo women have performed in the Peller Theater at the Magic Castle outside of an all-women-themed week. Naturally, we’ve created a pretty epic show. It begins tomorrow.
A note to subscribers: the content of this post is embedded from another website and is not available to preview. To view the content of the post, please visit http://CanadasMagic.blogspot.com. Some of the embedded code may be visible in this notification.

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!







06 January 2019

Rounding the Central rings in January 2019



Confirm details about dates and locations by visiting each club's website.

Montreal, QCRing 62 (20th Century Ring)- TBA.
Hamilton, ONRing 49 (The Doug Henning Magic Wand Club)- Java night.
London, ONRing 265 (London Magician's Guild)- Round robin.
Kitchener, ONRing 235 (The Caesar Hat & Wand Magic Circle)- Teach-a-trick Night.
Ottawa, ONRing 151 (Ottawa Society of Magicians)- Perform something new to you or something you haven’t performed at the club before.
Ottawa, ONOttawa / Gatineau magicians- N/A
Toronto, ONRing 17 (Sid Lorraine Hat and Rabbit Club)- Kayla Drescher lecture


Please leave a comment or email me about corrections or omissions.

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.


16 December 2018

Toronto: American Sign Language interpreted magic show

From the Champions of Magic Press release:
TORONTO, ON, DECEMBER 13, 2018: The holiday season just got a little more magical as ​Starvox Entertainment announces a very special performance of Champions Of Magic accompanied by American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. On December 29 at 5:00 p.m. at Toronto’s​ Bluma Appel Theatre ​ (​St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St E), the UK’s mind-bending magical troop, will deliver their jaw-dropping, mind-bending performance and mesmerising illusions with ASL interpretation to Toronto for the first time ever.

Fully immersing deaf audience members into a grand scale illusion show, such as Champions of Magic, is no easy task, and is rarely done,” stated Corey Ross President and Founder of Starvox Entertainment. “While magic is very visual, the sleight of hand often involves distracting the audience through audio cues and the traditional magician’s patter.  The Champions are preparing themselves for the challenge of performing for this new audience without giving away the secrets of the illusions. It will be incredibly suspenseful to see if this works.”   
It was really important to us that the show to be fully inclusive of the diverse Toronto audience,” says Kayla Drescher, the show’s close up Magician. “Having a performance with American Sign Language interpretation allows the entire audience to be totally immersed in the magic and enjoy the camaraderie that is an integral part of the performance.

Champions Of Magic’s five world-class illusionists deliver a mesmerizing experience that’s entertaining for the entire family. Featuring incredible illusions with sports cars, an impossible escape from Houdini’s water torture cell, mind-blowing predictions that must be witnessed to be believed, levitation from wonderous heights and a finale beyond explanation, Champions of Magic showcases original magic that can’t be seen anywhere else.
To reserve seats for the December 29th ASL performance, please use code “ASL” when purchasing tickets through ​www.ticketmaster.ca to ensure assigned seating. For assistance, contact the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts box office via tquinlan@stlc.com or call 416-366-7723.