05 November 2022

A peek behind the curtain with Sam Strange [2022]

A peek behind the curtain with Sam Strange border= 

This is the last of a series of interviews leading up to the Champions of Magic Worldwide Wonder Tour shows in Markham [Nov 30 - Dec 1], Kitchener [Dec 2 - 3], and Peterborough [Dec 9].     

Canadian tour to start April 2023!

Read our 2019 interview where Sam shares:
- his interests outside of magic
- about pre-show rituals
- keeping performances fresh
- and his Broadway role of choice
What is your favourite thing about going on tour with Champions of Magic?

Champions of Magic is now a bigger show in scale, production and crew numbers than ever before.  Because of that, it is such a vibrant circus to be a part of. Even on the days off, or travel days between shows, there is always a good-spirited atmosphere with lots happening. Travelling in a large group with a shared passion for the show unifies everyone too. Needless to say that performing the actual show is an amazing buzz in itself, so that is a tempting first answer to give.



What is your most important self-care practice while on tour?
The most important thing for my own mental health and self care is to ensure Young and I get the biggest cheer and reaction during the final curtain call. As we are unlikely to receive that through our own ability as performers, we have to lower the standard of the other acts. Sabotaging props and playing complex mind games backstage often lowers their personal contribution to the show, therefore peacocking Young and I into a stronger position. Failing that we just pay off the sound technician to pipe in extra applause through the speakers.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about performing in Canada?
We once did a show in Saskatoon in January and by the time the trucks had made it over to the venue, everything inside was frozen. The extreme temperature over a prolonged trucking time had caused mayhem with so many of the illusions! Bolts wouldn’t move, batteries had failed and the technical crew setting up the lights, pyro etc were encountering countless problems. It really was a period of extreme whether and something I had never experienced before.

[Editor's note:  They say you haven't truly toured Canada unless you've had your equipment wheels freeze making load in, urm, challenging.]

In 2018 we managed to get a spot performing our illusions at the Toronto New Year's Eve celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square. We had been booked to perform at 11.40pm on the main stage. It was windy, raining and the DJ had to stop his set for us to do our introduction. Almost everything went wrong in that performance and it really wasn’t what 10s of thousands of people in the square wanted to see! We did our time but were rightly heckled throughout for killing the vibe in the lead up to midnight. We have never spoken of that night again...

I do genuinely love Canada and the Canadian people so I’m really sorry that both things that spring to mind were performances with a lot of stress and uncertainty.

[Editor's note:  Oh my!  Those are definitely memorable experiences, and not the good kind.  You need to tour here in the warmer weather.  You'll like your visits better, we're sure of it!]
What is your favourite part of the 2022 Champions of Magic show to perform?
I find this a tough question to answer. The reason for that is that we are continuing to work in new material and when that succeeds that feeling is difficult to compete with. It’s such a buzz. However, if pushed I’d have to say the finale which is a collaborative effort from the cast and crew; it has the vibrancy, energy, humour and production level to match my childhood dreams of becoming a stage illusionist. 

What is your favourite part of the 2022 Champions of Magic show to watch?  
Without doubt one of the best moments of the show to watch is when a new routine goes into the show. We always refer to it as a ‘sell out in the wings’. A new routine inevitably evolves quickly but that first night when scripted jokes are untested, magic techniques are a little shaky and you can see the subtle fear in the performers eyes, really make you appreciate live theatre. If it happens to be your own new routine or material in the show that night then it’s terrifying!  

What about the 2022 show would "2012 you" find unbelievable to imagine as your current reality?
That gratitude for the show we are in and those moments of reflection really are important.  In 2012 we had performed very little onstage and I think the biggest theatre we had played at that time was the Chipping Norton Theatre in Oxford, England, with a capacity of about 200. To think of the ground we have covered and rooms we are now playing with the show, it’s beyond what we imagined would have been possible. That relentless stage time also means the show (and hopefully our act within it) is only going in one direction.

There really is no secret to making a show good -- just perform it loads and try to proactively make improvements. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I think all magicians fall into that trap of seeing a show once, making a judgment on it and then dismissing it having ‘seen it already.’ We have so many new elements to the Champions show now that even if you have the show before it will have evolved quickly and improved massively. So do come and see it if you can!


Thank you Sam, for making the time to answer our questions!

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