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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.


















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