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

02 November 2019

A(nother) peek behind the curtain with Sam Strange

Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON      
  • 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        
Read more and buy tickets.


A peek behind the curtain with Sam Strange border= 

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 Sam Strange (the taller half of Young and Strange) as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.

Many of you know that Strange orchestrated a most wonderful surprise last June for Richard Young and The Magicians' Podcast.  






You've toured a number of countries.  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?
That run of shows we did in Toronto (in December 2018) is generally considered by the cast to be some of the best shows we have ever done, with some of the best audiences we have ever performed to. That maybe in part due to the perfect theatre for the show and at Christmas time when everyone is in a great mood anyway. Young and I did have to evolve the humour and delivery for our act for American audiences, but it does seem that the Canadian audiences sense of humour is a little more aligned with the British.


What interests do you have outside of magic?
 

The 2 interests I’m about to list don’t do my reputation any favours.

Manmade underground structures.
Included in that are tunnels, bunkers and mines. Specifically NOT caves. As we all know, caves are dull.

Prisons. Difficult to articulate why or how those interests have come about it. If I were a betting man (which Young will testify is the case) I would say it’s the human history and sinister nature of both. Prisons are renowned for the evil held within and most places built underground are not for the living.

I am mindful that this answer has given good ammunition in the next round of off stage ribbing from other cast members.

What are your thoughts on touring life?
If you ever get the chance to be a part of a touring show on the scale of Champions of Magic, take it.

It’s an insane experience when I reflect on it. There's a cast and crew of 14 people all travelling together, who are all passionate about magic, who are all decent people and who are all as invested in the show as anyone else  It’s constantly peppered with euphoric highs. As you can imagine, the show is the focus and pretty much all conversations outside of the theatre relate in someway back to the show. I think it’s important to have a bit of escapism from time to time and respect other peoples space when they need it.




Do you have any pre-show rituals?
 
As it’s a mixed bill of magicians, it’s always important to get the best response from the audience. I often perform a routine of sabotage on the other magicians props. It’s enormously helpful to making our act peacock ahead of the others and subsequently helps to prop up my misplaced ego.

What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?
As a double act we are fortunate because we can be a catalyst for each other during the performance. If I feel Young’s delivery or energy dip during the performance (or vice versa) we can pick each other up, feeding from each others enthusiasm. I also find that putting the ‘work’ into perspective really helps. [Last December's 17 day run of] 41 shows sounds impressive and tiring, but I’m not at a coalface and I am living my dream. The least I can do to sustain that is to look engaged and interested while on stage.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick?
My hands are tied. This is an interview for Canada's Magic and it’s important to do everything I can to win you round.
Therefore my answer can only be Doug Henning.

Fortunately not only is that a politically astute answer, but it’s also pretty true. The vibrancy, colour and pure joy of his act would be so much fun to do.
[Editor's note: Truly a terrific answer.  AND it shares internal consistency with last December's interview.  Well done!]



Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
On a personal level, I love being a part of the Champions of Magic show. In buying a ticket and coming to support the show you are allowing me, and many other people I tour with, to live their childhood dreams. Think of it as a charity and spread the word for the next run of Canadian shows.



 


Thank you Sam Strange 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      
  • 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         
Read more and buy tickets.

26 October 2019

A(nother) peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer

Upcoming Champions of Magic Canadian tour dates:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 12/12/19   Ottawa, ON      
  • 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        
Read more and buy tickets.


A peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer 

You may remember the wonderful interview, "A peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer," from December of last year.  I was delighted to receive an invitation to take a second pass at an email interview with McAleer as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.

If you haven't already, check out his YouTube channel where he hosts his series Mind Games in addition to his Champions of Magic tour vlog.






What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?

Although my act has a solid structure, each show is different as the audience play a big part in deciding what happens, whether they know it or not. So it becomes a bit like improv for me. That helps to keep it fresh, but I always try to keep my energy and enthusiasm up for each and every audience because it might be 1000th time I’ve done the show but for them it’s their first time seeing it.

You've toured a number of countries.  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?  
Canadian audience have the North American enthusiasm like crowds in the U.S. but feel a bit more like the audiences back home in the UK in terms of their sense of humour.

Do you have any advice for touring magicians?
Advice for touring magicians...
  • Travel light.
     
  • Don’t use a roller bag. They can never fit them all in the overhead bins on a flight. 
     
  • Save locations like coffee shops, stores, restaurants, whatever, on Google maps so when you go back again for more shows or whatever, you’ve got a list of your favourite locations.
     
  • Take time to see things the town or city is known for. Ask a local, especially Uber drivers.
     
  • If you find good WiFi somewhere, use it wisely - download films, books, podcasts, whatever you need. You’ll regret it later if you don’t.
     
  • Steal all the free toiletries from hotels. They might come in handy on the road, or make disappointing gifts for people you don’t like very much.
     
  • Have something to do in the downtime. Usually I’m editing a tour vlog, or writing up some new ideas. Kayla and Young both have podcasts.  [Editor's note:  podcasts are Shezam Pod and The Magicians' Podcast respectively.]


What interests do you have outside of magic?
Film. Art. Cooking. Gym. Laughing. Anthropomorphising inanimate objects. Not always in that order.
Do you have any tour or pre-show rituals?

Not really as I’m not at all superstitious. However, I always brush my teeth before a show but that’s more of a courtesy to participants that join me on stage and makes me smile more on stage.

If you were to ask the others what McAleer likes to do pre-show they’d say get ready ridiculously early; costume and mic on, ready to go, long before I need to.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick?
Something from ‘Into The Woods’ ... maybe doubling up as the Wolf and one of the Princes as they get the songs that would be most fun to perform.

Those are fun parts! You can't go wrong with Sondheim.






Thank you Alex McAleer 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      
  • 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        
Read more and buy tickets.




19 October 2019

A peek behind the curtain with Kayla Drescher

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.


A peek behind the curtain with Kayla Drescher 

I was delighted to receive an invitation to email interview Kayla Drescher, as part of a Champions of Magic promotion.  You may know already know Drescher as the winner of the Today Show's “The Next Great Magician” (judged by David Copperfield), from appearing on season four of Penn and Teller Fool Us, or from lecturing in Toronto last January

(Read on to learn more about Drescher's connection to the Canadian magician known as "The Beauty of Magic.")






Who inspires you magically?

My mentors are a couple from Indianapolis - Christian and Katalina.  They are my biggest inspiration magically.  I enjoy watching magicians that are grounded and “real”, like you want to buy them a beer after the show.  That’s what I aim for as a performer and am inspired by those that do the same.




What is your first memory of magic?
 

My first memories were from seeing magic at a magic shop at 7 years old.  That’s where I caught the “bug.”
Why do you think people are still fascinated by magic, especially live magic? 
Because it’s happening directly in front of you.  When magic is happening with no screen or special CGI, it adds to the impossibility.  Add in magic happening in your hands… well there’s nothing better.


Where do you find non-magical inspiration?
 

I love watching dance and choreographers tell a story through movement, listening to music that motivates something magically, or watching a movie suspend the audience’s disbelief and transport you to another world.  Comedy is also a huge influence, especially improv and character-based sketch comedy.  I’m also super inspired by Celine Dion and basically everything she does, especially her fashion.  My choice for clothing on stage is highly motivated by hers. 
What’s is it about Champions of Magic that has allowed you to draw large audiences on 6 UK tours and 3 North American tours over the past six years?
Champions of Magic features every type of magic you could possibly imagine while keeping it fun for the whole family.  But really what we feature over any other show, TV program, movie, etc, is us.  The 5 performers have strong, enjoyable, and engaging personalities.  You get to know us individually and as a performing “family.”  We truly enjoy touring together and you can see that on stage.  We probably feature more high-fives than any other show has.  Audience members come back show after show because they enjoy “hanging out” with us.  And because the audiences are different, the show is just a little different each time, making each show super memorable.    We work hard to make the show not just magically impressive, but an absolutely fun time.



What surprised you most about performing in different countries?  Have you experienced anything specific about Canadian audiences in particular?
The biggest difference is the style of humor.  Because I’m primarily comedy/improv based, I have to study what each audience would find funny.  What I love most about Canadian audiences is the immediate excitement when the show starts.  The roar of the audience when the lights go down is everything a performer wants to hear.  We LOVE LOVE LOVE performing for Canadian audiences and cannot wait to do it again!

Do you have a favourite touring anecdote and / or any advice for touring magicians?
There are so many stories from tour and we certainly don’t have time for them all.  My favorites come from pranking Sam Strange, like when he leaves his belongings on stage during rehearsals and I hide them in one of the cup holders in a 4,000 seat theater.  That’s always fun.

My biggest advice is to just be open to any adventure the tour can bring.  I’ve tried different foods, seen amazing parts of various countries, and rode my first Bird scooter (which I fell off) with the tour.  It’s like an adventure of no other so make the most of it!


 

With respect to your connection to Canadian magic, most of our readers will be familiar with the podcast you do with Carisa Hendrix (Shezam! the podcast hopes to make itself obsolete), and many will know about your connection with the Toronto magic crew.  Do you have any other connections to Canadian magic?
I was influenced by Greg Frewin at a young age.  And there's also Celeste Evans.
I first met Celeste Evans and her daughter Evanna at a magic convention when I was roughly 15/16 years old.  Celeste was a hero of mine, being such a trailblazer in the community and having created a full stage act in a tight dress and no suit jacket (which I was wearing at the time).  Celeste often offered unprompted advice to young magicians, especially women in the community.  She was an amazing human being and a fantastic magicians.

When she passed away, Evanna kindly sent me some of her magic-themed jewelry. After I finished crying of pure joy and honor, the jewelry quickly made its way into my usual performance attire.  Her necklace charm, in the shape of a hand with 4 multiplying balls, is what I mainly wear every show, although the ring in the same shape is often on my hand.  I’m honored to carry on a piece of Celeste through everything I do.  


Do you have any tour or pre-show rituals?

I lay on the floor a lot. It’s very comfortable.  Then I do a ton of dancing to loosen up and get happy, give Fernando a high-five, and get on with the show!
You sometimes perform extremely dense runs.  What do you do to keep your performance fresh for both your audience and you?
I try to change little things about my show each time I start to feel myself get complacent.  It could be adding in a new joke, doing a different dance, wearing a new jacket or shoes, just anything to change things up a bit.  We also all try to keep things fresh, from playing tag on stage to making each other laugh in the wings.  I’m thankful to be with a group of people that all know how to have fun and keep things fresh.

What interests do you have outside of magic?
I’m a big basketball fan and keep up with the WNBA and women’s college basketball regularly.  I try to read a lot but always just end up watching Harry Potter.  And I have a really great dog that I enjoy snuggling with.


If you could be endowed with the talent to take on any Broadway role past or present, who would you pick?
Elphaba from Wicked.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
California weather. I’d share California weather with all of Canada.

Ohhh... best gift ever! Don't forget to bottle some for yourself though.  You'll need it when you hit SK in January!


Thank you Kayla Drescher 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       <<<  ** 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.

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.


A peek behind the curtain with Richard Young border= 

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.

Many of you 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.


A peek behind the curtain with Fernando Velasco 

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?
 

Sports.
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.









18 September 2019

Champions of Magic are coming back!

I was also lucky to score interviews in 2018 with two of the four acts in the show.  Have a read:
I had the privilege of seeing Champions of Magic with Kidlet last December. So. Much. Fun! You can read my random thoughts about their show here.


From the Champions of Magic:
  • 12/8/19     Brandon, MB
  • 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.


From the Champions of Magic Facebook page:


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.