Showing posts with label # CM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label # CM. Show all posts

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.

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.

You may 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.

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?

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.

16 April 2019

Browser's Magic Bash 2019 recap

Updated on April 19th to add: 
  •  An assortment of phone camera, at a distance, dark room, intended to be viewed on a small screen, photos can be viewed in this Facebook album.

Browser's Bash logo  
I'm delighted I was able to live-Tweet and live-blog the 2019 Browser's Magic Bash last Saturday!  

I enjoyed catching up with the friends I've made at previous Bashes (hi Cooper) and making new friends too (I'm looking at you Don and Wil).

Here's the traditional consolidation of the posts and Tweets. (For the complete list of Tweets and photos check out this Twitter link to Tweets tagged with #BrowsersBash2019 or #BrowsersBash.) 

It's a very long post.  Click "read more" below to view it.

I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

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!

12 December 2018

A peek behind the curtain with Young and Strange

I was delighted to receive an invitation to interview Richard Young and Sam Strange earlier this month, as part of a Champions of Magic promotional event.  You may have seen Young and Strange on The Next Great Magician, Penn & Teller: Fool Us (2014 and 2017), or “photobombing” the Live News Report.

Although I was unable to attend, they kindly agreed to answer a few questions by email.  Which of course meant that I wasn’t able to witness any of their magic up close and personal.  And so my first question …

What wondrous and extraordinary magical effect would you have shown me had I been there to interview you in person?
As I’m sure all your readers can empathise with, when asked about your profession/hobby, it’s quickly followed up with “show us a trick mate.” That can be repetitive at times and more often than not the environment in which you’re asked to perform isn’t favourable, meaning a cobbled together performance.
What is your first memory of magic?

My first experience of the magic we know and love was probably seeing Lance Burton performing his dove act on a TV special. What an incredible piece of magic that was/is.
The beauty of being stage illusionists is that it immediately takes you out of the “performing on demand” predicament and we often say “unfortunately, all of the magic we do is simply too big to do for you right now!” Having said all of that,
we would have definitely made the effort for you and would have probably set up our full illusion show complete with lighting, music and pyro.

Aww, shucks.  I am gutted that I wasn’t able to make the live interview!

Where do you find non-magical inspiration?

The reality is that we take inspiration from all sorts of things outside of magic. There has always been a comedic thread in our performances so we are interested in all forms of comedy. Young has had a lifelong passion for WWE wrestling which draws many parallels with stage magic (the production, characters, humour).
Who inspires you magically?

We have always absolutely loved David Copperfield and seeing his TV specials as children was probably the biggest inspiration to our act today.  We have a passion for stage illusions and no-one does it better than him. We recently saw his show in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand and he’s still at the very top of his game. Lance Burton, along with Siegfried and Roy were also hugely inspirational. We have always loved the magic of 1980’s and 90’s.

Why do you think people are still fascinated by magic, especially live magic? 
Despite having all of this magic at our fingertips in the age of smartphones, we think that people are still looking for that momentary escapism where they can feel like a kid again, even if only for a few seconds. Magic and certainly stage illusion can absolutely do that.

What’s is it about Champions of Magic that has allowed you to draw large audiences on 6 UK tours and 2 North American tours over the past five years?
I think there are a number of reasons why it’s been successful. There’s no doubt about it, live magic is popular at the moment.. Talking specifically about the show, we think the name is brilliant. Champions of Magic; it’s about as clear a show title as it can be. It feels like a safe, solid bet for an evening’s entertainment. 
It has a multi-magician line-up with different styles of magic-- if you don’t like one performer or style, you’ll like one of the others. 
The varied line up also allows for much more flexibility within the show, therefore broadening its appeal. The show is constantly evolving both on and off stage. The branding and marketing changes as the producer (an incredibly hardworking, dynamic man called Alex Jarrett) learns from each run of the shows we do.  

What surprised you most about performing in different countries?  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?
I think if you chat to most magicians who have developed their acts for British audiences and then transitioned to North America, they will say the same thing: audiences over your side of the Atlantic are SO much better. They are less cynical and more vocal in their praise. Why that is we're not sure, it could be because magic has a great reputation or they are more conditioned to ‘join in’ with sports games being such a huge feature of the culture. We’ve only done a handful of shows in Canada probably not enough to distinguish between American and Canadian audiences. Maybe you can give us some pointers?! The shows we are doing in Toronto are over the holiday season so it should be a fantastic run of shows with everyone in good spirits.

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.
I’m glad you recognise that. It’s all too easy to look at the touring life (especially through the lens of magician’s social media) and think “that looks like the absolute dream lifestyle.”  It is amazing but does have a equal amounts of highs and lows.

Tell us about your most memorable touring misadventure.
One of the biggest benefits of being in a large scale touring show is that you end up with a lot of interesting stories, so to pin it on a single anecdote is difficult. However we did a show recently at a casino near Seattle and flew out the night before. When we landed, we had a message from the trucking company saying the truck had been caught in heavy weather and simply wouldn’t make it to the event. I should say that if you have seen any of the advertisements for Champions of Magic or seen the show itself you’ll understand that it is a large scale show. In our set alone there are nine illusions framed with top level production. So to have no truck is an absolute disaster.

No truck?  No props?  Oh no!
Fortunately, the event we had been booked for was a little unusual with a theatre at one end of the room and dining tables tightly packed into the floor space. It allowed for the guests to enjoy a three course meal followed by the evening show. We took a taxi to the local magic shop in Seattle, while the rest of the cast and crew brainstormed what they could do in order to make the show happen. It’s amazing how resourceful five magicians can be when the chips are down. We also gave extra value by performing close up magic around the tables prior to the show, which kicked the whole thing off on the right foot.
One of the things we did was have a crew member dress and [Editor's note: The content that followed contained super secret secrets and has been redacted.  Hey.  I said it was super secret.  Did you think I was just going to leave it here for you in plain text?] Of course a little rehearsal before, the use of a devil’s handkerchief (courtesy of the Seattle Magic Shop) and an audio track that is as well known to the magic community as David Copperfield himself, created one of the best reactions of the night.
Alex McAleer the Mind Reader did an extended performance, along with Kayla Drescher (the specialist close up magician in the show). Young and I were forced to resurrect a card production/manipulation act we used to do, along with a comedy routine we had for silk in Egg. Fernando Velasco (the escapologist in the show) did a variation on Smash and Stab and by the time the show had finished the audience went crazy.
It seems no level of production can compete with confusing a bandana for a banana.

So as to not scare off any aspiring performers, please share with us your favourite touring experience and / or strategies you use to maintain your sanity on tour.
Without sounding like PR spin, we are like a big family off stage. We all get on well and look after each other. We go to the gym together, share apartments together and spend most of our time hanging out. We are fortunate to have an excellent producer, Alex Jarrett, who is laid back, very funny and incredibly hard working. He strikes the perfect balance as a boss and allowing us to have fun. He’s been incredibly selective in which magicians are in the show, not only for their acts but also for their attitudes off stage. Magicians are well known for their ballooned ego’s and ensuring everyone gets on with each other is just as important as the show itself. We joke around all the time and every show has something that makes us laugh.

Had your families not been friends (meaning that you wouldn’t have met each other in childhood and become friends), what kind of magic do you think each of you would be doing today?  (Or would you be back to filling jam donuts?)
We often talk about what we would all be doing if we hadn’t have discovered our early passion for magic. There is no doubt about it that Young and I have always loved large scale stage illusions. Although we have been close up magicians for many years, our passion has always been rooted in stage magic. I suspect that passion would have come through regardless of whether we knew each other. Whether that would have translated into us both being stage performers is another matter and probably unlikely. The beauty of a double act is that you both bring different things to the table, pooling the little talents we did have together. Obviously learning magic together was a great catalyst and our friendship is what makes performing our act so much fun. Some double acts are known for not getting along well, but we are very fortunate that’s not the case for us, and our deep rooted friendship is the biggest asset to our act.

What's your connection to Canadian magic?

How can you not be absolutely in love with Doug Henning's vibrancy and positivity? His shows were incredible. We also love Darcy Oake, a great performer and an incredible stage magician. He is one of the very few magicians who is genuinely cool, rather than most illusionists who try, but can’t quite pull it off.

How have your numerous television appearances, including Penn & Teller: Fool Us, The Next Great Magician, and NBC’s Access Hollywood (USA) impacted your career?
Penn and Teller: Fool Us has always been a fantastic show with nothing but good intentions to showcase magic at it’s best. That’s been really helpful in getting our name out there, along with a viral video we created of us photobombing a Live News Report.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
We’ve been in the show Champions of Magic for a number of years and the show is the best it’s ever been. By the time it reaches the St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto we will have been out in North America for nearly eight weeks performing in venues all over the US. The theatre in Toronto has a capacity of about 900 so it’ll feel like an intimate venue for such a large scale show. With all this in mind it’s worth making the effort to come and see the show and the four acts in it, as everything is pointed to it being the best run of shows we have ever done.

Thank you Sam Strange of Young and Strange 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!

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

06 December 2018

Toronto: Win tickets to see "Champions of Magic"

Great news folks! I have been offered a family prize pack of four (4) tickets to give away to my readers, to attend the Champions of Magic at The Bluma Appel Theatre December 23, 2018 at 5:00 pm, Toronto, Canada. 
Champions Of Magic’s five world-class illusionists deliver an action-packed show to entertain the entire family featuring; incredible illusions with sports cars, an impossible escape from Houdini’s water torture cell, mind-blowing predictions that have to be seen to be believed, levitation from wonderous heights and a finale beyond explanation. The tour features original magic that can’t be seen anywhere else, in an explosive show that will delight audiences of all ages.

Five magicians make up this mind-bending magical troop, including:
  • Kayla Drescher, named the Next Great Magician by David Copperfield.
  • Alex McAleer has the ability to tap into his audience's’ minds and read their thoughts.
  • Fernando Velasco who has triumphed over it all, from straitjackets to water tanks and handcuffs to giant steel traps, he has faced some of the deadliest escape stunts ever performed.
  • Young and Strange have been featured on television shows around the globe thanks to their spectacular illusions and viral videos.

The cast will be in the lobby after the performance for photos at no cost.

If you don't want to leave tickets to chance, you can purchase them at

I will be holding a random draw for the family pack of tickets (minimum retail value $516 CAD).  (There will be one winner.)  The draw results will be posted by Sunday December the 16th.

To enter:
  1. Log into the RaffleCopter widget below, using Facebook or a valid e-mail address.
  2. Mandatory: Leave a comment in the widget, telling me what you think is the most difficult magical effect to take on tour and perform in front of a large audience night after night (from a personal experience, stories from peers, personal opinion etc).  (You do not need to be a magician to enter the contest.  You could simply say “All of them, I’m not a magician!”)
  3. Optional: For an additional entry
    a) Sign in to your Twitter account
    b) Use the RaffleCopter widget to send this message to your Twitter followers:
    "Enter by Dec 13 to win a family pack of tickets to see Champions of Magic at the Bluma Appel Theatre via @canadasmagic"

    c) Enter the URL of your Tweet into the RaffleCopter widget to validate your entry.
    (The optional entry is only valid if the Tweet URL is included.)
  4. If you win, you must be willing to provide your full name and contact information so that a representative from Champions of Magic can coordinate with the Bluma Appel Theatre box office.

The fine print:
  • To participate in the contest, you must be 18 years of age or older.
  • One entry (and one optional entry) per person.
  • This giveaway is open to Canadian residents, excluding residents of Quebec. (Je m'excuse!)
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you experience difficulties leaving a comment, you may e-mail it to me for posting.  (I am not responsible if your e-mail is misdirected or gets stuck in my Spam folder.)
  • This giveaway may be terminated or withdrawn at any time.
  • Entries my be disqualified at any time (reasons for disqualification include but are not limited to the provision of information that is untruthful, inaccurate, incomplete, or suspected fraudulent behavour).
  • You must be able to use the tickets as offered.  (No cash value will be offered if you cannot use the tickets.)
  • Transportation to/from Toronto and accommodations will not be provided.
  • Photo ID will be required to claim the tickets at the the Bluma Appel Theatre box office prior to the show on your way into the theatre.
  • The odds of winning depend on how many people enter the contest.
  • Contest closes on Thursday December the 13th, 2018 at 11:59pm ET.

With thanks to Starvox Entertainment for generously making these tickets available to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

03 May 2018

Wild about "Wild Magic"

Through a long and convoluted series of events, I found myself (along with Kidlet, Kidlet's Other Parent (KOP), and Kidlet's Friend (KF)) at Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight stay on Good Friday.  It should come as no surprise that I viewed this as an opportunity to utilize some tickets that were gifted to me to see "Wild Magic" at the Greg Frewin Theatre. (Which reminds me, I owe a now very belated thank you note to the generous ticket gifter.)

Tip: Arrive to the theatre as early as you can to ensure good seating (the box office will let you know what time is best).   There's also a photo opportunity next the to lion statues by the front doors.
Note to parents: Bring along some distractions for little ones (such as crayons with paper, playing cards, books, quiet hand-held video games etc.) to help pass the time between arriving for the best seating and show time. 
If you think your child would be scared sitting right up close to the tigers at level one, level two offers an equally good view of the stage along with the sense of a physical barrier between you and the big cats.

Inside the theatre there's some entertainment while you wait.  We watched footage of Greg's tigers when they were adorable cubs.  People had their special occasions celebrated (happy belated birthday Donna, Jason, and Nicholas).  There were also short clips of some of the TV appearances Greg's made.  He's done a tonne of interviews!

My favourite part of the show, three viewings later, is still the illusion involving fire and water.
Here are some random thoughts that came to mind while watching "Wild Magic":
  • The show starts strong and keeps getting bigger and better.
  • There's a smattering of mentalism and close-up magic to keep things varied, but make no mistake, Greg's large illusions dominate the show!
  • KF's favourite part of the show: all of the tiger productions.
  • There are three large video screens making it easy to see the close-up parts from any seat in the house.
  • The show is different enough from the last time we were there, that it felt new to us.
  • It made me happy that some of my favourites (for example, the illusion with water and fire) are still in the show. 
  • It looked like the show was sold out.  (The house is deep and narrow and particularly good for viewing magic.  I don't think there's a bad seat.)
  • KOP's favourite illusion: when Greg makes one of his assistants 'dissolve' into a metal plate.
  • A good pair of theatre binoculars give you a seat upgrade!
  • The show involved newspapers, a parakeet (or was it a macaw?), an invisible deck, artwork, handcuffs, tigers, talented ladies, candles, fire, doves, a dog, tigers, kids, a little bit of Sting, and a little bit of Shania Twain.  And a whistle. (One of Kidlet's favourite parts.)
  • Greg even teaches a trick!
  • Kidlet's favourite illusion, three viewings later:  the one I referred to in 2012 as the "Assistants' Revenge."
  • As I've previously noted, how magicians treat audience members is something to which I pay close attention.  For me, one of the things that brought me great joy, was when Greg asked a young boy to come up on stage to help.  They boy said, "no."  Greg didn't miss a beat and went on to find someone else.  I think more kids were interested in helping out after that.  They got the sense that they weren't going to be pressured into doing something they didn't want to do.
  • Greg had an eye-popping and ambitious take on sawing a person into halves.  It was hard for me to count 'cause they kept moving things around, but I think that his poor assistant was broken up into 9 segments!
  • It is a really physically demanding show.
  • Greg and his crew deliver the same level of energy and passion for performing as I first witnessed six years ago!
  • The evening was fantastically entertaining! 

All the excitement and entertainment of a Las Vegas show, for a fraction of the cost!
(A deal made even better with the current exchange rate.)

During the intermission I was delighted to spot Sorcerers Safari alumnus Christian Mascia demonstrating magic.  He was doing an excellent job of it too.  He had a crowd gathered that was at least 8 people deep and practically engulfed him.  I'm sure he sold a lot of magic kits for Greg that night!

I should also note that I think I saw Ben up on stage doing what looked like a fabulous job assisting.

After the show we queued up for the photo illusion with tiger Cashmere.  Kidlet and KF had their photo taken.  The adults watched on, secure in the knowledge that the tiger trainer is right there keeping a careful watch at all times.  (And because we were getting two copies of the same photo, one each for Kidlet and KF, the second copy was half price!)

Note: The profits from the photos go to a tiger sanctuary, and to feed hungry tigers. 

After the show (photo or not) you can queue up for an autograph from, a bring-your-own-camera photo with, and have a quick chat with Greg!

If you get the chance, I highly recommend the "VIP backstage tour package add-on."  We experienced the backstage tour in 2016 and it was fabulous

Thank you to John, Alex, Erika, and everyone else involved in making it such a magical evening for my family.  A special thank you to Greg, for his hospitality and for sharing his magical talent!

26 April 2018

Browser's Magic Bash 2018 recap

I'm delighted I was asked to live-Tweet and live-blog the 2018 Browser's Magic Bash last Saturday!  

I enjoyed catching up with the friends I've made at previous Bashes (hi Adam, Sonny, Noah, and Nicole) and making new friends too (I'm looking at you Maria, Tara, Mark, Carter, and Carter's brother).

Here's the traditional consolidation of the posts and Tweets. (For the complete list of Tweets and photos check out this Twitter link to Tweets tagged with #BrowsersBash2018 or #BrowsersBash.) 
It's a very long post.  Click "read more" below to view it.

I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

15 March 2018

Random thoughts about "The Science of Magic" on CBC's "The Nature of Things"

Updated at 9:30am to add links to: 

"The Science of Magic" boasts an extraordinary list of participants, which include: Julie Eng, Ronald Rensink, Jay Olson, Gustav Kuhn, Anthony Barnhart, Amory Danek, Matthew Tompkins, Thomas Strandberg, Billy Kidd, Tom Stone, Thomas Fraps, Pit Hartling, and Juan Tamariz.
Had I known it was possible to do university level research involving the magician's force, mind-reading MRIs, or magic beans*, I may have reconsidered the focus of my post-secondary education.

I am, however, on the ball enough to jump at a chance to take an advance peek at (and ask questions about) "The Science of Magic," a documentary that examines these subjects and more!

Tune in to "The Science of Magic" on CBC’s "The Nature of Things" on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 8PM (8:30 NT). The documentary will also be available to watch online at on Friday, March 16 from 5:00 pm EST.
When Donna and Daniel Zuckerbrot from Reel Time Images (who brought us  "Dai Vernon – The Spirit of Magic," "Max Maven: a fabulous monster," "The Houdini Code,"' and "Jeff McBride: a magickal life" among other titles) realized how much research was going on in the field of science and magic, they knew they had to investigate it further.
"You can see that the real question about our film 'The Science of Magic' isn’t why we wanted to make it, but rather, how could we not have?"
-- Donna Zuckerbrot

Julie Eng's reaction to being brought on board the project?
"I was thrilled. I have known the Zuckerbrots for many years and I am a big fan of their work."

  "The idea of using magic as a mechanism for study into how we think, and how we perceive the world is fascinating for me.  It was a huge honour to be asked to be the 'magical guide' for this film."

"Magicians don't have supernatural powers. Instead what they do is exploit very powerful and often very surprising limitations in human cognition."
In "The Science of Magic," the Zuckerbrots along with magical host Julie Eng, take us across Canada, the US, and Europe to visit with scientists using magic as an investigative tool in their exploration of cognition and behaviour.  (Pay close attention to catch cameos by Daniel Zuckerbrot, David Ben, and magic enthusiast Ari.)

The show is full of fascinating insights sure to capture the attention of those who like to be entertained by magic, those who perform magic, as well as those who are interested in psychology and behaviour.  There are even opportunities to participate in on air magic tricks!  From the press release:
"... viewers are able to feel the power of magic from the comfort of their homes and experience some of the psychological principles these tricks reveal (including ‘magicians choice,’ and choice blindness,' ‘failure to see,’ ‘change blindness,’ inattentional blindness, as well as the ‘aha’ moment)."

I'm not too proud to admit that on more than one occasion Julie had me right where she wanted.  I was also properly schooled by Anthony Barnhart.

On the other hand, I did well with Ronald Rensink's challenge and some of the other ones too!

Julie also teaches a coin trick that even I could master, with a little practice.

"We take these principles that magicians know, we bring them into the lab and we try and figure out how they work."
It is humbling (and a bit disconcerting) to discover, as the press release describes, that "we sometimes don't see what's right under our noses," "we see tricks that fool us despite nothing actually happening," and that "we can be blind even to our own choices."

"We were all surprised at how magical the science was. It was astonishing to realize that we don’t see what we think we are seeing, that our memories are as slippery as our perceptions, that who we are — even our deeply held beliefs can change without us knowing. Like good magic the science left us with a feeling of wonder."  
-- the Zuckerbrots

For some behind the scenes photos have a look at the Reel Time Images Facebook page, Instagram account, or Twitter feed.  I look forward to hearing Daniel's thoughts at his Browser's Bash mini-talk.
During the making of the documentary, Julie said she was pleased to learn that "old magic tricks that I have known and have performed since I was a child can still have a deep and profound affect on people, particularly with the right presentation."

There are a variety of real world applications to the knowledge gained:
  • Work on "how small distractions can blind drivers" can help improve driver safety.  ("Driver looked but failed to see" is an actual category of accident!)
Anthony Barnhart's studies showing how "off beats" work across sensory systems, help me better understand my habit of turning off my radio when I'm in a situation that requires my full attention.
  • Suggestion-based treatments have promising uses in the medical field.
  • The Zuckerbrots noted that Rensink's findings with respect to 'change blindness' "seems to underlie film editing.  It is apparently the reason why you don’t notice the change of pictures, from wide shot to close up for example, while you are watching a film."  
  • In addition to psychology benefiting from the insights discovered using magic as an investigative tool, the Zuckerbrots observed that "some magicians believe they have already gained from what they’ve learned from psychologists.  Tom Stone is a great example, he certainly credits work he did with experimental psychologists as having changed his own performance in fundamental ways."
  • Julie posits that "... from learning how intention and actions (movement) can help create smoother technical manipulation, to how it can mask the most technical sleight… is useful."  After all, she continues,
"If we can use science and technology to work out the perfect angle for speed skaters to maximize physics to their advantage, why can we not benefit from learning more about human behaviour and cognition to advance our field?"

"Each of these areas can bring a lot of insights to magicians to heighten the “magic" experience for audiences."

Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about the show? 

"We hope they find watching it as interesting and as much fun as we did making it." 
-- the Zuckerbrots

"Bring their eyes and ears (and to be prepared to have fun!)"    -- Julie Eng
I certainly had fun learning and I'm sure you will too!  (As the scientific field evolves, I hope they'll film a second part.)

Tune in to "The Science of Magic" on CBC’s "The Nature of Things" on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 8PM (8:30 NT). The documentary will also be available to watch online at on Friday, March 16 from 5:00 pm EST.

* Maybe they're really magic. Who knows? **
** With apologies to Stephen Sondheim.

28 November 2017

Look Ma! We're in GeniiOnline!

Welcome GeniiOnline readers!  Have a look around and we hope you enjoy your stay. 

Thank you Anna for the birthday wishes!  We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

From the Genii Online Twitter feed:

04 April 2017

Winners of Browser's Bash Bingo 2017

You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about Magic Convention Bingo in the Browser's Bash recap.  That's because this year, Browser's Bash Bingo was not officially part of The Bash.  It was just a little side entertainment provided by Canada's Magic.

Thank you all for your kind words about the idea.  And for playing along!  And especially for not being rude and shouting "bingo" during a speech, presentation, lecture, or performance!  (I twitched a little when Dick Joiner shouted "bingo" on stage at one point, but it turned out he wasn't playing our little game!)

The eagle-eyed of you may have noticed that I published the winning cards on the evening of The Bash.

Without further ado, the winners of the tickets to the Toronto Magic Company's yet to be announced show are:
  • Jeff Kosciejew,
  • Lee Elliott, and
  • Randy Govang!

I'll be in touch with details about your prize!  Congratulations!

Thanks again to Ben Train for making these prizes possible.   (If you haven't already, go to Toronto Magic Company's website now and sign up for their newsletter!)

If you couldn't find me to drop off your completed card (with a bingo), or you were playing along at home and got a bingo  (5 across, 5 down, 5 diagonally through the centre, or all 4 corners), take a picture of your card and email it to me (canadasmagic at gmail dot com) by Sunday April 9th 2017 for a shout out.  Maybe Ben will have some extra "buy one get one free" coupon codes to share.  You never know!

Did you see the clues I left to help you out?

(Which must have meant he said, "Would you like to change your mind?" just before that.)

(Mother and daughter, anyone?)

Female and male volunteers.

Here are some of the other items the winners have marked off on their cards:
  • False cut
  • Appearing cane
  • Someone mentions "CAM"
  • Someone said "Ordinary deck of playing cards"
  • Used the tag #BrowsersBash2017 on social media (verified to be true!)
  • Jumbo cards
  • Father and daughter
  • Charlier cut
  • Handkerchief
  • False shuffle
  • Visited the USPCC booth
  • Someone said "ordinary piece of rope"
  • Forcing pad
  • Cads from mouth
  • Ambitious card
  • Purchased something
  • Invisible deck
  • Someone wearhing white socks and black pants
  • Said hello to someone from Montreal
  • Top hat
  • Cardistry
  • Visited the Browser's booth
  • Said hello to the Cooper family

Browser's Magic Bash 2017 recap

In case you missed it, I live-Tweeted and live-blogged this year's Browser's Magic Bash last Saturday.  In this post I've consolidated (and edited) the blog posts and Tweets. (For the complete list of Tweets and photos check out this Twitter link to #BrowsersBash2017.)  It's a very long post.  Click "read more" below to view it.  Thanks for joining in.

I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

22 July 2016

Random thoughts on "Chris Westfall Magic & the Porcelain Princess"

Last night I had the pleasure of catching "Chris Westfall Magic & the Porcelain Princess" at the Papermill Theatre (part of Todmorden Mills on Pottery Road, tucked in next to the DVP).  It's a cozy theatre that seats approximately 150.  I'm guessing there's not a bad seat in the house.

Kidlet had this to say about the show:
  • If you ask me what my favourite part is, my answer would be "the beginning to the end."

Kidlet's friend added:
  • If I were half as good a magician as Chris Westfall, I'd call myself incredible!

Here are some random thoughts that came to mind about Thursday night's show:
  • Ben Train kept the kids captivated in the lobby while we waited for things to get started.
  • Chris made the kids laugh as he gave the audience a pre-show sneak peak at Bella
  • From the beginning, Chris and Bella, deliver a very visual and high-energy show!
  • Bella elegantly defied the laws of physics with, among other things, a crystal ball, rings, and a hula hoop.
  • (Was I the only one tickled by the visual pun of the dolly being taken off stage on a dolly?)
  • Chris masterfully executed illusions large and small.
  • Mouth shuffling was unexpectedly entertaining! 
  • A Pokéman Go player made a timely and unexpected cameo.
  • This is a volunteer intensive show.  By my count there were eight delightful children and one good-natured adult brought up on stage.
  • The volunteers were fabulous, and made the evening so much fun for everyone!
  • Chris expertly engaged the children, and had them eating out of the palm of his hand (figuratively). 
  • Hang out after the show for post-show photos, autographs, and a meet & greet!
  • "Is it magic, or is it illusion?"

To learn more about this family friendly show, visit Chris Westfall Magic.  You can purchase tickets for tonight's show (Friday July 22) at Eventbrite.

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.

12 July 2016

Diary of a Sorcerers Safari newbie - part 12

|< page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 >|  

A camper's notebook. Photo by Rosemary Reid
A camper's notebook.

Day 6: Wednesday August 19th*
So sad.  This is the last time we’re going to be in the Mess Hall.  One last round of table banging and cheering.  I hate today.  I wish camp could go on forever.

I better finish packing.

We got our stuff out of the cabins and sorted our bags on the same field where we arrived.  Everybody was a happy kind of sad.  People were signing name tags and arms and books and stuff.  I overheard Daryl say that he was amazed that he learned stuff starting at the very first day of camp.  He said he “came here expecting to teach, but (he) didn’t expect to learn.”  That’s cool!

I wish camp were longer. Photo by James Carey Lauder.
I wish camp were longer.

Everyone was saying that this was the “Best Year Ever.”  Even though it was my first year, I’d have to agree.  There’s no way they could make camp any better than this! 

Loading the bus. Photo by James Carey Lauder.
Loading the bus.
Dad came and got me just as the bus was leaving.  I kind of wish I’d taken the bus, just to be together with my new friends for a a little bit longer.  But I can sleep in the car when Dad drives.  He doesn’t ask me nearly as many questions as Mom.  And I was so tired. 
It’s good to be home, but In the words of one of my new BFFs,
"I wish I could sleep for 360 days. So I could miss the school year and when I wake up it would be time for camp again."

A question to the reader:  Was Alex a girl or a boy?  What lead you to that conclusion?

A special thank you to the campers who let me interview them for this article (in no particular order):

  • Ryan from Mississauga, ON
  • Astrid from Grimsby, ON
  • Landon from Toronto, ON
  • Thomas from Montreal, QC
  • Serena from Toronto, ON
  • Angelique from Grimsby, ON
  • Stephanie from Bermuda
  • Peter from Toronto, ON
  • Cathy from Toronto, ON
  • Paolo from Toronto, ON
  • Brad from Orillia, ON

and to all the other campers (and staff) that let me ask them questions throughout their stay!

The 2016 season of Sorcerers Safari will run from Sunday August 7th through Friday August 12th, 2016. For more information, or to register, please visit

|< page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 >|

* The “Diary of a Sorcerers Safari Newbie” is primarily based on the 2015 camp season.  It is an aggregate of many perspectives, and at times includes events from previous years.