Review: Sugar Republic

  On a pleasant and mild Winter afternoon, a gaggle of ladies and I assembled in Collingwood for our much anticipated visit to ‘desserts museum’ Sugar Republic. We were all dressed casually (especially important given our impending time in a ball pit!) however alongside my fluro pink sprinkles dress I also wore my fairy floss inspired pastel pink and blue fluffy jacket.

 Warmly welcomed by staff at the front door, we were given a sticker sheet, and the we travelled past the inflatable banana forest into a pastel coloured, sweet sugar wonderland. There were treats for all the senses around every corner, and to our delight each room of this desserts / candy paradise was highly instagrammable!

 Each ‘room’ or segment of this sugar wonderland was extremely well thought out and curated. From homages to gummy bears, rainbows and birthday cake, each area made me smile and my heart race with excitement (or a sugar rush!) Staff on hand were also extremely kind and helpful – from assistance with group photos, to ensure all us adults had our own time in the ball pit to a staff member helping half our group to get some fairy floss when there were long lines and we got split up. I had envisaged that we’d be overrun with kids and would have to fight to have some time with the installations, however I was wrong – the number of staff on hand to help was perfect and very appreciated.

 There were a nice mix of activities in the rooms too, so that it wasn’t all a ‘look but don’t touch’ experience – personal highlights for me were the spinning wheel, giant gumball machine, giant birthday cake and ball pit (of course!). I felt that we were given an appropriate amount of time in the ball pit and we were all feeling a bit tired when we left, which was a good sign.

 The ticket itself was reasonably priced: for $38 we had an hour and a half to explore all the sweet rooms – a perfect amount of time – and it included an assortment of sweets along the way (including, but not limited to ice cream, fairy floss and wizz fizz sherbet). I wish I could have stayed there forever (cue heart eyes emoji). The experience and laughs / smiles with my friends have left me with many great memories and moments.

  VERDICT: a sweet pastel paradise for those with a sweet tooth who also enjoy nostalgia. This is one pop up that will sweeten your day!

Information: This installation is in it’s final days and has sadly sold out! It may be touring so be sure to visit the website to find out where it will be next! For more info, visit:  http://www.sugarrepublic.com.au/

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My Magical Memories across 12 years and 500 magic shows (and counting!)

2018 is a special year in my timeline of being a magic fan – it marks my 12 years of being a fan of magic, but at the conclusion of the 2018 Melbourne Magic Festival it also marks my 500th magic show seen. Sounds crazy, but it turns out all those magic shows add up over the years! Yes, it’s a milestone that only I would keep a count of but it also has me thinking of some of the interesting and thoughtful questions people have asked me over the years in relation to magic, so I thought I’d share some of them here. I haven’t done personal writing like this before so I don’t know if this will end up being an interesting piece for you all to read, however if you’re curious please do read on!

Where did it all begin?
Quite some time ago (12 years in fact!) I was looking for new experiences and adventures in life, and a dear friend at the time regularly went to magic shows and invited me to one. It was called “Magic Mondays” held on the first Monday of the month at Dante’s restaurant in an inner city suburb. Run by a core team of four awesome magicians plus featuring a good rotation of guest magicians every month, I fondly remember my times in the audience there. Prior to attending the show, I did ask my friend “do you mean a kids’ magic show or?!” – at that time I had no idea that regular magic shows for adults existed. Believe it or not, during the first 6 months or so of show attendance I was terrified to help out on stage – a glaring difference to the way I am now! I was very lucky (and grateful) to have some super sweet stage experiences at this show. During its peak, “Magic Mondays” was well known for its theme nights for Halloween, Christmas and its annual Birthday show. I often organised a group of 10 friends to attend along with me – as my dear friend always said “magic is much better enjoyed with friends”. Along the way, other monthly magic nights appeared in other areas of town – like “Mitcham Magic” towards the Eastern suburbs and other small irregular shows in basement bars and other places across the city.

Many people assume I enjoyed magic as a child, however that’s not exactly true. I can recall watching / attending maybe 3 magic shows when I was a child. I was shy as a child and would have been terrified had a magician asked me to help out onstage so magic wasn’t memorable for me when I was younger….totally making up for that now, of course!

Why magic? What’s the appeal?
It’s a little hard to explain, but basically – magic changes the way I think about things, about everything – about everyday objects, about psychology and people, about the universe. I take delight in being surprised, and magic is so different to everything else that goes on in my world. Magic is also an escape to my ‘usual’ life, because nothing ‘usual’ ever goes on during a magic show! I generally like art, but magic would be my favourite kind of art form by a mile.

Do you remember all the magic / every single show you’ve seen?
Well….to put it bluntly, No. Sorry to disappoint! I can’t remember every single magical effect or show I’ve seen however I do generally have a good memory for events so I basically have a ‘favourites showreel’ of my favourite times at magic shows / unforgettable magic effects that I can refer to. A good chunk of those memories are from stage shows, but there are some select pieces of close up and card magic included too. Over the years I have been gifted with some very beautiful, ‘limited edition’ souvenirs. As much as the souvenirs make me feel like the luckiest girl in the room, they also serve as a great memory aid / prompt.  There are some pieces of magic that have been so impactful that they’re unforgettable. Along with certain pieces of magic, it is the dialogue or the magician’s personality that often sticks in my mind. A friendly, engaging personality makes magic that much more enjoyable and distinct. If the magic performance I see has a defined storyline or strong storytelling elements then I’m also more likely to remember it.

Don’t you see a lot of the “same” sorts of magic tricks on repeat?
I do, but I also find that magicians work hard at making the magic they present to be distinctive, with their own stories and personalities added into the mix. So yes, much of the ‘core’ magic I see are effects I’ve seen time and time again but I don’t mind. Regularly, magicians come up with such different and fascinating portrayals and presentations that eventually it doesn’t matter if I see repeated content.

What’s your favourite magic trick / type of magic?
I don’t have a defined favourite, and it’s hard to choose just one effect or type of magic. I can tell you the kinds of magic that just transfix me or take me away to another place, though. I’ve always had a bizarre love for rope magic. Even if it seems confusing at times, I really enjoy rope magic routines and the stories that go with them. I enjoy prediction routines where audience members get to go on stage and draw pictures. There’s always one picture that is way funnier than the others! I enjoy magic with ‘cute’ aspects, like balloon animals or rabbits or cute characters. I like watching children’s / family magic shows as there’s always a lot of colour and movement on stage (as well as plenty of puns!) More recently, I’ve discovered character magic – where the magician transforms themselves into a completely different character who then presents the show and completes the magic. I find the storytelling component to be much richer in those kinds of shows, and I find them to be the most memorable shows. The audience generally remembers magicians, but they’ll remember an immersive magical character that much more.

Why don’t you do magic yourself? Have you ever tried?
At the risk of causing myself some issues later on, I’m going to be brave and admit that I have dabbled in magic. Many friends have been very generous to me over the years (which I am very grateful for), and as such I do have books on magic, magic sets, kits and small props etc. What I don’t have is the confidence and the time / drive to practice magic regularly. This may come as a shock to some people, but outside of my ‘9-5’ job I also have an assortment of other hobbies (like miscellaneous papercrafts and reviewing shows on this blog among other activities) that require my care and attention. Naturally, more of my time will be devoted to the hobbies that I have more confidence in.

Have you ever seen a “bad” show?
If any magicians are actually reading this I can feel their eyes burning into the page…..but no need to fear. I can’t say that I have technically seen a “bad” show (magicians, you can all breathe easy for now!) I’ve never walked out of a show, but I have sat through 2 shows over the past 6 years or so that had extensive technological difficulties (with powerpoint presentations / screens / sound desks and the like) which negatively impacted the shows. During one of those shows, the performer also called members of the audience ‘lazy’ – if we chose not to seek how the magic effects were done – which I take issue with. Magicians (and performers in general), trust me when I say that if it is the middle of Winter and your audience have parted ways with their time, money and heated blankets / pajamas / multiple heat sources to attend your show they are anything but lazy!!!

Fairly early on in the days of attending magic shows I also had some pressing personal issues that were at one point becoming difficult to manage. At one magic show I was called out during a time where I was very stressed. Was it a great experience, being called out in the middle of someone’s show? No – it was one of those moments where I wished the floor would open into a void and swallow me whole. Should I have been at that show at that time? Probably not if my stress wasn’t in check, but everything in hindsight. During other shows I (and the rest of the audience) have had to put up with extensive jokes and dialogue from the 1950’s – I’m sure you can tell where I’m going here. It gets tiring, and it’s unnecessary in the modern world. From this perspective I have seen magicians with ‘less than ideal’ personalities but I figure – that’s just life. Out in the rest of the world, there are some people out there with crap personalities too so it’s not something restricted to the industry. At the end of the day, I just try and pay more attention to the performers with personalities, qualities and shows that I enjoy.

Do you have any pieces of advice or suggestions for magicians generally / from the audience / from your times as an audience member?
You’ll have to forgive me if these suggestions / pieces of information seem obvious to you – these are just items that I’ve collated after seeing many different magicians over 12 years. These points are just ‘food for thought’ however if you find any of them useful, then that is great!

I like to think most magicians treat their audiences with respect / the way they themselves would like to be treated and I generally find that this is the case. If anyone is unsure, I’ll repeat it here now – treat your audience members well! Be complimentary and make sure they know you appreciate them being at your show.  Most people subscribe to the culture of “busy” so there are many things audience members could be doing instead of watching your show. Ensure their time / monetary investment in you is worthwhile. Make sure that any helpers from the audience are treated extra well / treated with extra attention / thanks / souvenirs etc.  Helping on stage is still a legitimate barrier for people to attend magic shows, and many people I know still find it stressful or scary. Make sure everyone who helps you is treated extra well because little is more terrifying for an audience member than watching a magician not treat an audience helper well and then for that magician to search for their next victim helper. Which leads me to my next point – become a good ‘people reader’. This doesn’t necessarily mean increasing your mentalism skills / trying to read people’s minds but it does mean working on your skills to read others’ body language and small non verbal cues. Becoming better at reading people will mean that you’ll be better equipped to understand when helpers from the audience are nervous, or be able to ‘read’ when someone doesn’t want to help out or go on stage (so you can then select another helper). I find that the magicians who are good ‘people readers’ have a certain flow to their shows, and there’s less tension / uncomfortable moments. Audience members in general feel more at ease with performers who can ‘read’ them well because it makes a person seem more trustworthy if they understand how you’re feeling. Ultimately it increases empathy and that always feels nice if you’re the one feeling nervous or unsettled etc.

Personality is everything! Personality gives pizzazz to pieces of magic that can be dry or a little outdated. I’ve seen magicians with a ‘regular’ set routine, but due to their amazing personality I could watch that set routine a crazy amount of times and still be entertained. Personality sells too – it’s one of the reasons the audience comes to see your magic show as opposed to one from someone else (especially during a festival where there are many other shows on offer).

Be open to feedback. It literally took me years to pluck up the courage to actually feed back information and suggestions to magicians – obviously in the context of constructive feedback of course. Many times, magicians would know they could approach me after a show or on social media to ‘check’ on show aspects – like show flow, stage items and venue aspects etc. Egos aside, you’ll never know how much you can improve / tweak your show if you’re not open to feedback and suggestions (obviously from ‘trusted’ sources). From another perspective, being closed to wider feedback may mean that you’re missing aspects that should be addressed (like poor audience angles or items onstage that obstruct views etc). More recently, I’ve noticed that when I have provided valuable and appreciated feedback to magicians I’ve noticed that they’ve made prompt adjustments to their act / setup which I find impressive. Continuous improvement is a wonderful thing.

Commence your show with something strong or some engaging dialogue. This is less relevant for myself / regular consumers of magic, but more relevant for the audience members who are new to magic. I believe that you genuinely have 5-10 minutes to wow an audience at the start of a show to ‘win’ them over. In the best show I’ve seen, this is seamless – the magician begins with the element of surprise and then has some attention grabbing dialogue. In the less enjoyable shows, the magician spends time alienating people with a rambling dialogue / an unclear character or opens with some complicated magic which is mentally taxing for the audience.

There’s always going to be a small percentage of audience members who don’t really want to be at a show – they’ve been dragged along by a significant other or have been dragooned into supporting a ‘friend of a friend’. Or perhaps they’re just the doubters of magic – the ‘you can’t surprise me / I can explain everything’ types. It would be misguided to cater to these types for your entire show, however, there’s something to be gained if you can engage with them and surprise them early on.

Where do you think magic is headed in the future (ie from a trends perspective)?
Watching so much magic affords me the luxury of watching trends happen. Often I’ll see a particular type of magic or sort of effect done repeatedly by many magicians for about 6 months and then all of a sudden by the end of a year it will be gone / switched out for the next trend or I’ll see it less regularly. I’m unaware of what forces are at work here – whether the trend originates from trade shows / overseas recommendations / the internet or something else entirely. From one perspective it is good, because it shows that magicians are generally evolving their own shows and ‘keeping things fresh’ however on the other hand it can be frustrating too – if it’s a trend you don’t like, mentally you know you’ll be stuck watching it for at least another 6 months and that becomes tiring.

I think technology has a welcome place in magic shows. Magic with phones and iPads is seen as cool by younger audience members and technology keeps things ‘relevant’ (in a way!) With phones holding so much personal information, any magic done with a person’s mobile / cell phone becomes that much more impactful. To an extent, I think that audiences have limited capacities during a show to process and absorb all magical stimuli. Everyone is bombarded with an overload of information everyday in modern life, so sometimes I think that doing more with less during a show is beneficial. Or perhaps being mindful to provide the audience with some mental ‘breathing time’ so they can properly ‘switch’ into “magic watching mode”?

Where / what direction would you like to see magic headed?
I already LOVE magic, that much is clear. What I’d like to see is more people / potential audience members in the wider community giving magic a chance (or even ‘another chance’). I think of the stigmas that magic still (unfortunately) holds in the minds of the greater public: that all magic shows are for children / that magicians are ”creepy” / the fear of public humiliation (via audience participation). Despite not practicing magic myself, these are stigmas I want the industry to be rid of! I don’t exactly know how to ‘turn the tide’ on these aspects. All I can do is support the magicians who are displaying the optimal attributes, qualities and skills and encourage my friends to attend a show with me. Whilst I always hope to support magicians / magic in general (in one way or another!) I’m enjoying watching the continued rise of female magicians. It’s fantastic to see female members joining magic clubs, and to hear about the amazing achievements of female magicians on an international level. I hope to always be able to see and support women in magic and hope women continue to rise in magic too.

I’d like to see an expansion of magic presented differently – less of the dry, stuffy classics and more of the modern interpretations. More magic with rich storylines, enchanting characters and curious themes / aesthetics. The more the public are exposed to different kinds of magic shows (ie storytelling magic with characters, magic with certain themes or aesthetics) the better as magic won’t be seen as a ‘static’ / stuffy art form of a bygone era, and will hopefully be seen as a modern art form that is continually evolving.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this piece of personal writing. If you have any comments or questions to ask (which may be included in a future piece if I receive enough submissions) please feel free to email me: tayaroundtown@gmail.com

MMF 2018: Tay’s Top 8 Shows

The 2018 Melbourne Magic Festival has now vanished for another year – the wands have been packed away, along with the magic suitcases and top hats. I’m always sad to see the festival go because for me, each Melbourne Magic Festival is like an ‘all you can eat” buffet of magic for two solid weeks. Each festival brings the chance to see magic I’ve never seen before, to make new friends and to share magical moments with my friends (that we often reference / reminisce about long after the shows have run).

One of my own ‘post festival’ traditions is that after all the reviews have been written, I compile a ‘top list of shows’. These are the shows that have presented (in my opinion) the most amazing, unforgettable or incredible pieces of magic. The shows that have impressed me and that have really gone that ‘extra mile’ – either in presentation or magical effects or by blowing away my expectations. Each year I’ve compiled this list, the amount of shows on the list have changed- sometimes it’s 5 shows, sometimes it’s 10. This year it is 8 shows! Please enjoy this year’s list below, and congratulations to all those who made the list.

“That Tingling Sensation” performed by Lucy Darling (Carisa Hendrix): By far the most enchanting magical character I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. She sets the bar so high in her magical abilities but I also love her dialogue and how sweetly she treats her fans. There are many reasons why I specifically go and see her show twice each year, but one of the reasons is the semi improvised nature of her shows. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing a Lucy Darling show then you simply must.

“Personal” performed by Vincent Kuo: Rarely has a magic show had such an effect on me that this one has. Moving stories and beautiful, sublime magic. The only magic show that has made me have a good cry afterwards. Amazing how magic can generate such raw emotions.

“Woody Aragon is a Bald Faced Liar” performed by Woody Aragon: World class card magic presented in a fun, engaging way. I know a show is great if I’m leaning in and am on the edge of my seat to watch the miracles unfold in front of my eyes. A show that engaged all my senses and I loved it.

“DeeDee Darling’s Bubble Magic Show” performed by DeeDee Darling (Carisa Hendrix): The sweetest children’s performer with a thoroughly delightful and surprising show. She’s impressive and  irresistible. This show was loads of fun and featured plenty of bubbles, magic, dancing and laughs. DeeDee is THE BEST!

“The Art of Magic & Illusion” performed by The Showmen  (Justin Williams and Sam Hume): The show that blew away all my expectations! The Showmen took classics of magic and reimagined them in the most amazing, dangerous and thrilling ways. They certainly know how to harness adrenaline and get their audience’s pulse racing. This show made me excited for magic and reminded me how excited magic shows made me when I first saw magic. The Showmen are definitely ones to watch / keep your eyes on!

“Schrodinger’s Wizard” performed by Mr Marmalade: undoubtedly the most whimsical magic show in this year’s festival but also a show that held many surprises. It was well thought out and put together from a debut festival performer. I have no doubt that Mr Marmalade left everyone feeling enchanted and wanting to see more.

“Ghetto Shaman” performed by Adam Axford: I have to admit that I have a ‘soft spot’ for the brave performers who present a magic show that’s a little different and a little offbeat. I often find that if you take a chance on these sorts of shows, you’ll be grandly rewarded with a truly fantastic adventure. Ghetto Shaman is one of those shows. The magic was great but this show is so much greater than the sum of the magic and therein lies the beauty of the show. Definitely one of the most memorable shows for me (for all the right reasons!)

“The Magic, Comedy and Something Ellis Hour” performed by Tim Ellis (+ special guests): I feel this show deserves a place in my top shows list because I received a lot of enjoyment from the shows I saw. I loved the concept of this show, how easy it was to enjoy with my friends and the lighthearted nature of the show. It was the perfect mix of magic I’d seen before as well as guests’ special magic that I’d never seen. I enjoyed that the show matched the audience of the evening – some nights the show had a more careful progression, and at other times it felt like a crazy game show with bizarre contestants. It was often the perfect show to see at the end of a night out.

MMF 2018 Review: Best of the Magic Fest

Having been to 10 Melbourne Magic Festivals so far, one of my long standing traditions is to always attend the very last show of the festival – the ‘Best of the Fest’. A great credit to show host Nicholas J Johnson is that for the final show of the festival he pull out all the stops to provide a smorgasbord of magicians to entertain the audience in the tight one hour show time. Some magicians end up with literally only a minute with which to entertain the audience, which is quite a feat in itself!

Obviously, listing out all the magicians here would be quite a task (and make for a dry review) so I’ll just mention a few highlights, but let me mention up front that there is a reason this show sometimes sells out a week before it runs – it really is that awesome. If you like to see lots of different magic – this show is for you, if you want to see short and sharp magic – this show is for you, if you’re the kind of person who’d like to see a good chunk of the festival performers all in the one show….I could go on!

Personal highlights for me during the show were David Chandler’s whimsical children’s magic (also clearly delighting adults too); mentalist Caleb Street involving the entire front row for a mind blowing prediction – which was also impressive from a logistics point of view; and Carisa Hendrix (performer of many, many talents) showing the audience her ‘sideshow’ side by ramming a massive (needle shaped) lobotomy tool up a nostril. I was so thrilled to have that unfold before my eyes, it was AH-MAZING! The wonderful Ghetto Shaman (Adam Axford) returned with some amazing word magic, and we were all treated to a visit by the Dandyman (Daniel Oldaker) with some offbeat comedy (which is what he does best).

 The best highlight for me, however, was the return of the ‘Best of the Magic Fest’ cult favourite Gary the Magician. Gary’s a natural performer, with a wide smile, enthusiastic arms and a perhaps ‘inflated’ personality. Gary is pictured within this review in all his green splendour. In previous years there were sad rumours of Gary’s retirement / untimely demise which made me very sad. When Nicholas J Johnson announced that Gary the Magician would be taking to the stage, I’m pretty sure I cheered the loudest…before crying with laughter so much during Gary’s magic routine that I was practically crying into my partner’s hoodie mid way through the routine. Gary the Magician is so special and iconic that I urge anyone who has the chance to attend a show by him to do so. He is literally ‘limited edition’ and his retirement / demise rumours resurface each year so who knows which year will mark his last visit.

 

The final “Best of the Magic Fest” is the perfect show to ‘bookend’ any trip to the Melbourne Magic Festival. It is such a delightful, energetic celebration of magic that I’m distracted enough to forget that it’s the last show of the festival (and that the festival ends after the show is done).

VERDICT: unmissable, and a runaway hit of the festival. No one forgets their experience at the last ‘Best of the Magic Fest’ so I can’t recommend this show enough. Make sure you book it in your calendar next year!

 

MMF 2018 Review: “Favole” performed by Davide Kaufmann

Continuing the magical adventures on the last evening of the Melbourne Magic Festival my partner, some close friends and I we were all keen to discover what well travelled magician Davide Kaufmann (originally hailing from Italy) had in store for us in his show ‘Favole’. Davide explained that his show title means ‘fable’ with aspects of fairytales included. Davide has a very engaging nature on stage – lots of wide arm movements and big facial expressions – which were well utilised during a storytelling based show.

Fables and stories were regularly referenced during this show, and Davide used a screen to display pictures to explain the fables he was referring to. This helped give the audience context to the stories that were being explored via magic on stage. Each piece of magic performed by Davide was well matched to a fable or story. I especially enjoyed a piece of magic involving tarot cards (which can be used in of themselves to tell stories).

Sitting in the front row, there were many moments during this show where we were all transfixed. One of these points was during a ‘Russian Roulette’ routine. Davide used various props during the routine to decrease tension and include comedy, which transformed what can be a tense routine to watch into a fun moment. Another moment where I was transfixed was during one of Davide’s personal stories of how he came to be in Australia and came to love this country.

At the end of the show, Davide included links / his contact details in case anyone wanted to know more about the fables explored during the magic show – which was a nice touch. Overall, a very enjoyable show where the storytelling points were as strong as the magic.

VERDICT: A charming story based magic show with whimsical elements alongside some great magic. Very enjoyable – easy to watch and share with friends.

*Disclaimer: we attended this show as guests of the performer

MMF 2018 Review: “Where are you Tony?” performed by Felix The Magician

On the final day of the Melbourne Magic Festival, I sat in a theatre bustling with a crowd of families and children to watch Felix The Magician’s debut show at the festival. Titled “Where are you Tony?”, the storyline was that Tony (Felix’ magical rabbit) was running late to the show and it was up to Felix to find him. The wildly colourful assortment of props on stage hinted at the comedy and magical delights that were about to unfold.

Felix himself is an affable magician. He engaged his audience well, welcoming everyone to the show and waving at the large crowd of children sitting closest to the stage. During the show itself, I particularly enjoyed the looks of surprise on Felix’ face when things comically went wrong or when he couldn’t find Tony. I very much enjoyed all the physical comedy / slapstick aspects of the show. Felix’ show also included plenty of magic – some classic magic, for sure, but also some clever pieces of magic that I’d never seen before. Some of Felix’ magic even included household / everyday objects which I found impressive.There were gasps of surprise and delight from audience members when objects disappeared or when Tony the rabbit wasn’t in the place we thought he’d be. There were also loads of laughs (as expected) during this show, especially in relation to a particular scene towards the end of the show. Felix’ show included lots of fun audience participation, which was especially enjoyed by the children in the audience.

Over the course of the show, Felix did a great job of progressing the story via magical effects until the goal was reached. Felix did well to keep his young audience members ‘on track’ with the story too, as well as addressing / acknowledging their concerns – like when children insisted that Tony the rabbit was “over there!!” (while feverishly pointing to a specific box). Those moments were very entertaining for the adults in the audience, but it also brought joy to many to see children get so involved with the storyline.

Overall I was impressed by this show – it certainly didn’t ‘feel’ like a debut festival show for Felix, he was so natural with all the magic and the show flowed well. It was a delight to see a ‘fresh’ family magic show with a fun storyline.

VERDICT: A delightful family magic show, suited to young children and families. Many laughs and magic moments were shared by all. Felix is a friendly host and talented magician, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Felix’ show should he reappear at the festival in future.

 

MMF 2018 Review: “The Magic, Comedy and Something Ellis Hour” performed by Tim Ellis (plus special guests)

The premise of this show was simple: host and very well know Melbourne magic identity / icon Tim Ellis would perform magic (which was often lighthearted), and each night the show would feature a different special guest magician. The shows were executed well and I enjoyed the format of this show so much, that I ended up seeing two evenings of the show – each time with a different assortment of friends attending with me.

In terms of the magic, Tim Ellis did a fantastic job of mixing up some of his classic magic routines (like a rope routine, his ‘6 card rap’ routine and his famed linking rings routine) with some great pieces of comedy. Often, segments of the show would play out like a game show (with various hilarious themes). Needless to say, members of the audience were regularly called upon to help out on stage (with very comical results!)

In terms of the ‘special guests’, Tim pulled out all the stops to feature magicians with varied strengths / special routines. During one evening, superstar Dom Chambers performed the ‘appearing beers’ routine that he’d previously performed for Penn & Teller on their “Fool Us” tv show. It was truly a fantastic routine, and I was so pleased to see it in real life before my very eyes! During another evening (that took a very ‘adults only’ turn) the audience was thrilled by some comedy magic by none other than the enchanting Lucy Darling. I won’t spoil exactly what happened here, however at one point Lucy instigated a sword duel between two audience members which literally had members of the audience cackling with laughter. After this year’s shows I honestly don’t think there is anything that the enchanting Lucy Darling can’t do.  She’s just incredible.

This is one show I especially enjoyed sharing with my friends, and we all animatedly referenced / recounted our favourite parts of the show to each other long after the shows had passed. It’s a great show to watch to introduce someone to magic, or if you’re keen on comedy as much as you are magic as I felt there was an equal mix of both in each show that I saw. I enjoyed the format of this show, so I hope it returns for another season in the future.

VERDICT: A fun, entertaining and surprising show each time. Great for people newer to magic shows right through to the diehard fans. Definitely worth including in your future show schedule. The show is best suited to adults.

MMF 2018 Review: “The Best One” performed by Nick Kay

Nick Kay is a well known magician in the Melbourne magic scene, however some time has passed between his performances in the Melbourne Magic Festival so I was keen to attend and bring my partner along to see Nick’s show. The show with undoubtedly the easiest title to market, “The Best One” was a compilation of some of the magic that Nick is best at.

Upon entering the theatre, Nick had a loop of amusing memes and internet clips / gifs playing which created a lighthearted mood. It was a nice distraction, and I enjoyed hearing everyone laugh and point out their favourite memes and jokes to each other. In no time, Nick burst onstage in a snappy suit and was already making the audience cheer.

Nick has been performing magic for many years, and it made me so happy to see him perform some magical ‘greatest hits’ – all with that special Nick Kay flair (which is hard to put into words!) Predictions were made, many laughs were had and Nick even performed some cool iPad magic too. A very lighthearted “Russian Roulette” routine brought extra laughs to much of the audience as the dialogue and witty remarks between Nick and his helper from the audience made the routine shine.

Whilst I’m accustomed to Nick performing for adults, there were a number of children and families in the audience, so it was great to see Nick adapt his show for a family audience (as well as watching the enjoyment of the younger audience members and their reactions to some of my favourite magical effects performed by Nick). The younger members of the audience certainly brought some extra laughs with them.

For his finale, Nick performed his amazing cups and balls routine which was flawless. Jaws were dropping by the end of the routine, and cries of “No Way!” and the traditional “Come ON!” were heard before thunderous applause and cheers at the conclusion of the routine. My partner doesn’t see a lot of magic, but I could tell he was impressed by the sheer magic and trickery going on in that particular finale.

VERDICT: “The Best One” is your best bet for an amazing night of entertainment. Nick Kay will blow your mind and will have you talking about his magic long after the show has passed. If you want to see one of magic’s best entertainers, ensure you don’t miss “The Best One”.

*disclaimer: we attended the show as guests of the performer.

MMF 2018 Review: “DeeDee Darling’s Bubble Magic Show” performed by DeeDee Darling

One aspect I enjoy about the Melbourne Magic Festival is the chance to see some kid’s shows / shows for families that I would otherwise miss during my ‘9 to 5 life’. On the final Friday of the festival, I took a whole day off to watch magic but it is no secret that I actually booked a day off work to watch DeeDee Darling’s Bubble Magic Show. DeeDee Darling is another magical character performed by the incredibly talented Carisa Hendrix (of Lucy Darling fame) so I knew this show was going to be loads of fun. Who could resist a show about bubbles?!

I must say that this show was full of surprises from start to finish! DeeDee herself is unmissable, with her big eyes, sweet smile and blue hair. Dressed in a fun outfit with a cool mix of complementing colours, I expected to see DeeDee bound onto the stage with loads of energy – however instead she sat on the steps of the stage, waving and making faces at the children in the audience until everyone had realised she was there.  She knew what the audience was there to see – bubbles and loads of them. Many different varieties of bubbles and bubble formations were shown, along with a couple of cool science props. Throughout the show, DeeDee displayed her mastery of bubbles and we even learned some of the science of bubbles along the way. Some clever pieces of magic carried along the bubble theme was included, which were well received by the crowd.

 Another surprising aspect of this show was the level of audience interaction and participation. Sure being a kid’s show, many children had the chance to go up on stage and assist DeeDee with her wonderful bubble magic however DeeDee also has a (very catchy) theme song that everyone was encouraged to learn the words of and dance along to. I had expected this to be a sedate bubble show that I could quietly watch from my seat at the back of the theatre, but no – all of a sudden I was learning the words to DeeDee’s theme song and freestyle dancing like the rest of the crowd! DeeDee Darling’s catchy theme tune will have you humming long after the show ends.

 The excitement for bubbles and DeeDee herself continued long after the finale of the show. In a world where people (and children) are often hurried out of shows and from one activity to the next, it was nice to see DeeDee’s show take a different pace as she hung around after the show to greet her new fans and the audience could take their time to enjoy a few more moments of bubble magic before they left the theatre.

 VERDICT:  DeeDee is the instigator of the ‘victory lap’ and a sparkling character that you’ll quickly warm to. If DeeDee Darling visits your town, don’t delay to catch your tickets – you won’t want to miss out on all the fun!

MMF 2018 Review: “Up Close & Personal” performed by Carisa Hendrix

This special performance as part of the 2018 Melbourne Magic Festival was hosted at The Laneway Theatre – a hidden magic theatre, away from the main magic hub. I escorted a close friend to the theatre as we had both seen Carisa Hendrix’ character performance as Lucy Darling the week prior, but we were both thoroughly curious and intrigued. We wanted to see more and were willing to keep travelling down that proverbial ‘rabbit hole’! Away from her many characters (Lucy Darling and DeeDee Darling to name a couple) Carisa Hendrix is a fascinating person and performer in her own right – while retaining a refreshing ‘down to earth’ demeanour. Given this was a ‘one night only’ magic show in  an intimate theatre with 32 seats I knew we were all in for a special night of magic and stories.

Opening the magic show with a vocal ’round up’ of all her characters thrilled me, and captured the attention of everyone in the audience. Pleasingly, everyone in the audience had seen at least one of Carisa’s characters, with a good portion of the audience having seen more than one character (Lucy and DeeDee). It was a delight to watch Carisa perform her own style of magic along with some ‘sideshow’ elements, away from the trappings of different voices, elaborate costumes and extensive sets. The stories that Carisa chose alongside her pieces of magic were well selected to evoke strong emotions along with a sprinkling of mischievousness. Some of the stories were tied to Carisa’s many (again, fascinating!) disciplines – like art / design, working as a magician’s assistant, her varied skills and awards / achievements – and her life adventures.

Some people believe that with strong characters, come people who prefer to hide behind those characters. I don’t personally believe this is true in Carisa’s case, however I do think this performance showed a lot of bravery. With many magicians putting on a ‘different face’ to their audience vs their ‘off stage’ face and persona, I felt that with this show we saw the genuine, true Carisa. The show that was delivered to the audience was an exact match to the name of the show, and the audience enjoyed the show so much.

As the show progressed, Carisa’s stories evoked stronger emotions. With a stirring finale, I felt that Carisa had the audience in the palm of her hand – as she usually does – but not by any character other than herself. Concluding with a massive round of applause for a performer who consistently gives each show her all, Carisa stayed back to personally thank each audience member for attending which was a sweet touch. Demonstrating so much with a show like this, I think Carisa will have many fans for life.