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.


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