10 December 2018

A peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer

I was delighted to receive an invitation to interview Alex McAleer earlier this month, as part of a Champions of Magic promotional event.  You may have seen McAleer on international television shows such as ITV’s Good Morning Britain (UK), and NBC’s Access Hollywood (USA).

I was unable to attend, but lucky for me (and you) he kindly agreed to answer a few questions by email.

What is your first memory of magic?

I remember seeing a magician at a friend’s birthday party when I was maybe six years old. He wore a cape and a pointy hat with stars on and made a roast chicken appear in a child’s toy microwave. Describing it now, it could have all been a very odd dream but I’m pretty sure it happened.
and in his first show channeled his inner Derren Brown.  

What would have been in store for you had you not caught the mentalism bug?  
I think I would have developed a silent act very much in the style of Teller (from Penn & Teller). I like the challenge of communicating without words and letting the magic do the talking.

How do you create new effects?
When I’m thinking of new routines or material for a show, my first starting point is always what I want the audience to experience: what do I want them to see, think and feel. Sometimes it’s just a cool idea - a way to reveal something someone is thinking of in an unexpected or surprising way. Then I start to think about how it should look, and feel. Then I start to think about how I can achieve whatever it is I’ve dreamt up.

Who inspires you that is not a magician?
I’ve always been a fan of comedians such as Billy Connolly and Eddie Izzard; their ability to just stand on stage and entertain a thousand people with just their words. I’m also a fan of silent film stars, especially Buster Keaton (who is much funnier than Chaplin). I guess what inspires me about Keaton is that as a silent film star he had to rely on his physicality to tell the story.
Why do you think people are still fascinated by magic, especially live magic?
When you watch a magic trick, you are being shown something that shouldn’t be possible but somehow it’s still happening. Magic relies on taking something you know to be a fact, an object is solid, your thoughts are yours and yours alone, and breaks the rules. It’s fun for people to not understand the world for a few moments.
Magic is and always had been at its best when experienced live. Seeing someone vanish before your very eyes is always going to be enticing.

What surprised you most about performing in different countries?
This show started in the UK so when we first started touring North America we were initially shocked by the audiences’ enthusiasm this side of the pond. It’s a cliché, but in the UK we are more reserved and skeptical as a people, but across the Atlantic, people are eager to see a magic show and happy to just enjoy the experience. I’ve always found Canadians to have a pleasant mix between American optimism and European sensibilities so I’m looking forward to performing here and seeing the response we get.

McAleer’s connection to Canadian magic?
His fellow Champions of Magic performer, Kayla Drescher hosts the Shezam podcast with our very own Carisa Hendrix!
Life on the road isn’t all glory and glamour.  There are tight schedules, never-ending bus rides, questionable accommodations, missed connections, and broken or disappearing props.  Tell us about your most memorable touring misadventure.
All of the above is true! This show has been touring in the UK and US over the past 5 years so we’ve had all sorts happen. We have had the truck containing all the props, lights, and set turning up 2 hours before the show starts, and once not turning up at all! Thankfully we have an amazing cast and crew, especially the crew who can also pull-off miracles.

So as to not scare off any aspiring performers, please share with us your favourite thing about touring.
It’s always exciting to travel and meet new people, and we’ve visited places I might never have had the chance to if I wasn’t touring with this show. The best part is getting to do it with the cast and crew of Champions of Magic, the best tour family there is!

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

Catch the Champions of Magic at The Bluma Appel Theatre December 19 to January 6, 2019.  Tickets through Ticketmaster or enter our contest

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