Showing posts with label Alex McAleer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alex McAleer. Show all posts

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.


16 December 2018

Toronto: American Sign Language interpreted magic show

From the Champions of Magic Press release:
TORONTO, ON, DECEMBER 13, 2018: The holiday season just got a little more magical as ​Starvox Entertainment announces a very special performance of Champions Of Magic accompanied by American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. On December 29 at 5:00 p.m. at Toronto’s​ Bluma Appel Theatre ​ (​St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St E), the UK’s mind-bending magical troop, will deliver their jaw-dropping, mind-bending performance and mesmerising illusions with ASL interpretation to Toronto for the first time ever.

Fully immersing deaf audience members into a grand scale illusion show, such as Champions of Magic, is no easy task, and is rarely done,” stated Corey Ross President and Founder of Starvox Entertainment. “While magic is very visual, the sleight of hand often involves distracting the audience through audio cues and the traditional magician’s patter.  The Champions are preparing themselves for the challenge of performing for this new audience without giving away the secrets of the illusions. It will be incredibly suspenseful to see if this works.”   
It was really important to us that the show to be fully inclusive of the diverse Toronto audience,” says Kayla Drescher, the show’s close up Magician. “Having a performance with American Sign Language interpretation allows the entire audience to be totally immersed in the magic and enjoy the camaraderie that is an integral part of the performance.

Champions Of Magic’s five world-class illusionists deliver a mesmerizing experience that’s entertaining for the entire family. Featuring incredible illusions with sports cars, an impossible escape from Houdini’s water torture cell, mind-blowing predictions that must be witnessed to be believed, levitation from wonderous heights and a finale beyond explanation, Champions of Magic showcases original magic that can’t be seen anywhere else.
To reserve seats for the December 29th ASL performance, please use code “ASL” when purchasing tickets through ​www.ticketmaster.ca to ensure assigned seating. For assistance, contact the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts box office via tquinlan@stlc.com or call 416-366-7723.


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 ticketmaster.ca


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 https://canadasmagic.blogspot.com/2018/12/toronto-win-tickets-to-see-champions-of.html"

    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







23 November 2018

Toronto: Champions of Magic

Catch the UK's Champions of Magic at The Bluma Appel Theatre (December 19 to January 6, 2019).

Tickets through Ticketmaster.


From the press release:
The Champions Of Magic team present incredible illusions with supercars, an impossible escape from Houdini’s water torture cell, a mind-blowing prediction that has to be seen to be believed, levitation high above the stage and a finale beyond explanation. The show features original magic that can’t be seen anywhere else.

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.