MMF 2023 Performer Spotlight: Baenedict Thiveanathan

Baenedict Thiveanathan

Baenedict Thiveanathan is no stranger to Melbourne, magic or festivals; having previously performed at Adelaide Fringe and been a regular visitor to Melbourne. A keen storyteller with a very magical flair, Baenedict hopes we can all join him in “Taming An Eclipse”. Read on to discover more.

  1. Tell us about your show title – it’s quite enigmatic! What can audiences expect?

I’ve always loved being absorbed by captivating tales and wish to give my audience that experience as well. This is a show filled with fascinating stories that will hopefully have people’s imaginations running wild. One day while discussing the show with my good friend Brandon (who co-wrote the show with me) he came up with the name “Taming An Eclipse”. The title points to the central story told in the show and I get goosebumps whenever I share that story on stage. We love the title because it very efficiently conveys the grand and folklore-esque theme of the show.

2. Tell us about yourself and your magical background.

I grew up in Singapore and moved to Adelaide in 2019. I still am based in Adelaide but often travel interstate (especially to Melbourne) for shows! I started out in magic, like most magicians, with cards and close-up magic and never really performed full shows. Over the years as I matured as a person and performer, I found myself having something to say and often have a feeling or experience to convey. I learned that the most efficient way to do so is by having my own show, and being able to control aspects like lighting, music, environment and a longer run time for the show. That way, I can develop and share something more in depth and build an impactful experience for my audience. I now specialise in both close-up and stage magic and have also written, consulted, and performed in various shows both in Australia and in Singapore, which has been a lot of fun!

One of my primary drivers is to portray magic in the best light possible. Magic is more than just colourful clothes, dancing girls, silly jokes, rabbits, and top hats. Magic is a powerful art form with a rich history and I wish to convey that through my performances. I want people to leave my show with a newfound appreciation and love for magic.

3. Why should audiences come and see your show at the Melbourne Magic Festival this year?

I think my show is truly unique! Magic shows often just hit you with a steady stream of tricks… I think that can be fun, but it can also limit the potential of magic. In these cases, even when performed well it is often limited to just the feelings of wonder and astonishment. I think magic has the potential to do more than just astonish. My show attempts to explore the unexplored. Wonder and astonishment is the heart of magic, but on top of that, I hope that my show allows for the experience of a wider range of emotions; maybe an opportunity for you to tilt your head in the appreciation of a moment of innocence or maybe feel discomfort and slight fear at the possibilities of using knowledge and powers for evil. In “Taming an Eclipse”, storytelling is a huge part of it. I hope to create something unique and special by combining both storytelling and magic. It’s hard to describe it but I hope people do come experience it for themselves.

4. Do you have a favourite magician / someone you look up to in magic (if so, who is it)?

Teller (from Penn and Teller) is one of my favourite magicians. I think his magic is just beautiful. Also, he manages to tell stories and perform beautiful magic without saying a single word! I’m not good enough to do that, so I’ll stick to speaking for now hahaha..

5. What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival?

It’s my fist Melbourne Magic Festival and I’m excited to be part of something that so wonderfully shares magic with the public. Apart from performing my show, I’m excited to meet friends, magicians, and just have a good time. I love watching magic too, so I’m definitely looking forward to catching as many shows as I can!

If you’re keen to attend one of the most curiously titled shows within the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival, check out “Taming An Eclipse” and get tickets here.

MMF 2023 Performer Spotlight: Patrick Spencer

Patrick Spencer (image supplied)

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing another new performer for the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival: Patrick Spencer. Originally from Indonesia but now based in Hobart, TAS, Patrick had much to share about his show “The Honest Liar”. Patrick’s show will only be on for one night only, so be sure to catch him before he disappears.

  1. Describe your show in 3 words: Funny, Emotional, Simplistic
  2. Tell us about your show title – it is quite a contradiction in terms!
    This show title came from a question asked by a friend. He asked me to explain what a magician is to those who have never seen one and the first thing that came to my mind is Honest Liar. Because we magicians basically “lie” to our audience but we are honest about it, hence the show title “The Honest Liar”.
  3. Tell us about yourself and your magical background.
    I’m originally from Indonesia and have been staying in Australia for the last 10 years. As a kid, my father loved magic so much and loved performing party tricks to me and my friends every chance he got. He also took me to magic shows and taught me a trick or two, so I’ve been exposed to magic ever since I was a child. But I have never seriously pursued magic until 3 years ago when I finally realised that I actually love this art and I want to learn more about it. It was also the same time as the first wave of COVID and during those months of lockdown I decided to actually start learning magic properly. I started getting some books, watching some tutorial videos and long story short, I started performing to friends and family until I finally got hired to perform in various kinds of events.
  4. Why should audiences come and see your show?
    I love to tell a story and this show, “The Honest Liar” tells a journey of how this little awkward and nervous kid can be the performer that he is now. So for those who want to experience this journey, come with me and I’ll be your guide.
  5. What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival?
    This year’s Melbourne Magic Festival does have a lot of amazing events to look for, Mario Lopez’s lecture and show is definitely one of them since he is one of my idols as a magician. To be able to meet other magicians, learn from them and share experiences with them is the main thing that I most look forward to. I met a lot of amazing magicians in last year’s Melbourne Magic Festival and I just know that this year will not disappoint.

Patrick is performing “The Honest Liar” for one night only so see him before he disappears! Tickets available here.

MMF 2023 Performer Spotlight: The Quizzical Mr Jeff

image supplied

The Quizzical Mr Jeff is no stranger to the Melbourne Magic Festival, having performed at the festival a number of times. If you’ve never seen The Quizzical Mr Jeff perform then ‘expect the unexpected’! Specialising in visual shenanigans; circus, magic and variety entertainment are his main tools for opening the pathway into a world of whimsical wonders.

1.You’ve previously performed at the Melbourne Magic Festival a few times now…why should audiences come and see your show this year?
This year I have brought back more audience participation and an ending that the Melbourne Magic Festival hasn’t seen since the first year I performed there. It is a huge crowd favourite and people love the energy and feeling they get when they are leaving. People will see some of their favourite acts as well as performances that they may not have seen before. My show aims to give the audience an escape where they will see beautiful acts with choreography and music to bring them on a journey.

It has been said that when leaving the theatre people have experienced a lightness and sense of wonder, and a giddiness and happiness that comes from experiencing something novel and fantastically engaging.

2.You’re very skilled in multiple arts (circus and magic) – without giving too much away, what would you say is the most magical part of your show?
For me, magic is more than just a clever trick, it’s bringing people into the story and away from the outside world. Gravity defying acts are always my favourite so people should definitely arrive on time to see one of the most magical parts of the show.

3.If you could invite any magician or circus entertainer (dead or alive) for a guest spot in your show, who would it be and why?
Rewi and Tina from CirqueSanity. I would love to work with them again and bring our duo acts to my audiences.

4.What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival?
I always get a great sense of happiness when I meet the audience after the show and take photos with them. Bringing some magic and wonderment to people and transporting them into my whimsical world is a joy and pleasure.

The Quizzical Mr Jeff performs a charming and captivating show where every moment is filled with action and every movement is amplified by sound effects. If this sounds like your kind of show, then secure your tickets here.

MMF 2023 Performer Spotlight: Ryan Goh

Ryan Goh (image supplied)

I was excited to sit down and chat with a newcomer to the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival – Ryan Goh – and discover more about his show “Wonders”. I always try to make an effort to see magic shows from performers that are new to the magic festival, especially ones that don’t call Melbourne home / that are based abroad and hopefully you will too.

1. Describe your show in 3 words: Wonder, imagination, perspective.

2. Tell us about yourself and your magical background.
I’m currently an international student at the University of Melbourne and I started doing magic when I was 16. It was a stressful period for me due to the GCE ‘O’ Level examinations and I picked up magic as a form of escapism. I have since done shows in Singapore but this will be my first show here in Melbourne.

3. Why should audiences come and see your show at the Melbourne Magic Festival this year?
This show is catered to families and it’s about magic that we can all relate to, the magic of wonder. It is the reason I started magic and the reason I do magic: To inspire wonder. It’s a thought provoking show that inspires and changes your perspective to regain the childlike sense of wonder that we tend to lose after growing up. I’ve taken a more theatrical approach with this show to include a variety of magic, from objects coming to life and shadows dancing, to create a show filled with fun and mischief. It’s a guaranteed fun night for everyone! 

4. Do you have a favourite magician / someone you look up to in magic (if so, who is it)?
David Blaine has been my favourite magician for a long time because watching his TV specials made me question reality.

5. What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival?
I’m looking forward to performing and meeting everyone the most!

If you’re seeking a simply WONDERful evening, then check out Ryan’s show! Tickets and more information available here.

MMF 2023 Performer Spotlight: Liam Jumpertz (LJ)

LJ (image supplied)

Liam Jumpertz (LJ) is no stranger to performing on the streets / in fun venues around Melbourne or in the Melbourne Magic Festival for that matter! He’s a self confessed close up magic tragic, so let’s learn more about him.

  1. Tell us more about your show title…what makes you a close up tragic?
    There are two possible answers for the meaning behind the title for you new show. I’ve faced a lot of adversity to get to my new show this year, and I thought it was a lovely little play on the phrase ‘close up magic’.
  2. You’ve previously performed at many past Melbourne Magic Festivals. Why should audiences come and see your show this year?
    This show is filled with brand new magic that I haven’t performed in previous shows, plus all of the wit and charm I can muster! This is the perfect show to enjoy with friends or family.
  3. What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival?
    As you may remember I caught Covid last year the day of my first show. So this year I’m most looking forward to actually being able to participate in the festival and be around the performers and audiences alike.
  4. Do you have a favourite card? If so, what is it?
    Probably the joker. Mostly due to the unpredictability factor of the card.
  5. Who is your favourite close up magician (and why)?
    Hard choice but probably I’d go more local than worldwide famous, Nick Kay is one of the absolute best close up magicians I’ve ever seen live and the amount of time and effort he puts in to the craft is astounding.

If you haven’t had the chance to see LJ perform, don’t miss out on his show this year. It’ll be a tragedy if you miss out! Tickets to Close Up Magic Tragic are available here

MMF 2023 Performer Spotlight: Jo Clyne

Jo Clyne (image supplied)

Jo Clyne is a woman of many talents, among them: a teacher, holder of a doctorate and is ALSO a magician! In fact, Jo is performing in three different shows at the Melbourne Magic Festival this year (yes, you read that right – THREE SHOWS!) I sat down with this intriguing and multi faceted performer to learn more about her approach to magic and the three shows she’s involved in.

  1. Describe your show/s in three words

As I have three shows playing at the festival this year, it is only fair that I allocate one word to each. The trick is to work out which show each applies to…
Pirate-Fairy (hyphenated words count as one). I haven’t met a kid year who doesn’t like either pirates or fairies.
Whimsical with a splattering of comedy (Sorry, I’m finding this one-word thing REALLY hard)
Chocolate laxative (I know that it is two words, but so much intrigue…)

2. You’ve previously had a show within the Melbourne Magic Festival aimed at adults / families, Unusual Objects, which you’re also performing at this festival for two shows only. Why should audiences / families and young people come and see your shows this year?
This year I am doing three shows with very different audiences in mind.

The Pirate-Fairy-Dinosaur-Rainbow Magic Show has been designed specifically for young audiences aged between 3 and 7 years. It is playing at the MC Showroom in Prahran right near a car parking station (for ease of transporting small people) and is 40 minutes in length, which I think is the optimal attention span for children in that age bracket. It’s also VERY interactive.

Unusual Objects is for fans of close-up magic, which is my absolute favourite type of illusion. It’s playing at the Laneway Theatre in Northcote, which is like stumbling into a Victorian era parlour. It’s not a kids show, but could be enjoyed by audiences aged 12+.

The Quack and the Charlatan is for history buffs, people who like weird facts and stories about the history of medicine. Think ‘Horrible Histories’, but with magic, and no singing…or dancing. It’s pitched at upper teens to adult audiences. Previous audiences have included a lot of retired pharmacists…

3. Do you have a favourite card? If so, what is it?
Every magician has a favourite card. But we generally don’t tell anybody what it is because it’s the one that appears most often in our effects. However, I can reveal that I am the Queen of Diamonds in the VERY special, VERY exclusive 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival deck of cards. There may be a few decks left if you still want to get one. Diamonds is my favourite suit, mostly because the red coordinates with my magic jacket.

4. What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival?
The Melbourne Magic Festival is like the comedy festival for magicians. It’s a crazy two weeks with no sleep, featuring exciting magic-related emergencies such as what DO you do if your extremely secret magic prop accidentally corrodes your microphone receiver? (True story). It’s a way to show everyone what we do and why we love it.

5. Without giving too much away, are there any special guests we should keep an eye out for at your show?
My close-up show Unusual Objects features a weird purple creature that belonged to my friend’s child. She gave it me on the proviso that she never had to see it again.

In The Pirate-Fairy-Dinosaur-Rainbow Magic Show I am encouraging everybody to come dressed as something that features in the title (not limited to younger audience members). Bonus points if your costume includes EVERYTHING in the title.  I will be getting quite a few smaller audience members up on stage to help me out with the magic.

In The Quack and the Charlatan, I am collaborating again with Dr David Waldron, historian extraordinaire, as we concoct a history/magic show where truth is stranger than fiction.

Sounds like Jo has something for everyone to enjoy spread across her three shows – surely there will be a show to take your interest! See below for ticketing details:

For more information / tickets for Unusual Objects, click here
If The Pirate-Fairy-Dinosaur-Rainbow Magic Show is more your style, click here
For a magical delve into history with The Quack and the Charlatan, click here

MMF 2023 Character Spotlight: The Mad Hatter

Image supplied

This year, I’m very privileged to sit down and chat with a character that is well known all across the world! As we all know, the mad hatter is very, mad BUT he is also very magical too. This year, the mad hatter (performed by none other than well known Melbourne magician and magic festival creator Tim Ellis) will be paying a very special visit to the Melbourne Magic Festival to show off all his magical madness during “The Mad Hatter’s Magical Tea Party”! Let’s learn more about this magical mad hatter.

  1. What can you tell us about your show / what can audiences expect?
    I am planning a WONDERFUL Tea Party and I expect EVERYONE from Wonderland to attend! So I hope everyone who buys a ticket will dress as The Cheshire Cat, The White Rabbit, Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee… maybe even Alice herself! Then you might even be invited to join me ON STAGE at the Tea Party or maybe even get to FLOAT IN MID AIR!!!
  1. You’ve previously visited the Melbourne Magic Festival with one of your exciting magic shows. Why should audiences / young people come and see your show this year?
    Because The Mad Hatter is THE BEST at doing magic! I have been practising for over 35 years since the Magic Festival last year and I’ve invented some crazy new tricks that will drive you MAD! I’ve even got better at MATH too! They call me THE MATH HATTER! Oh it’s going to be SO MUCH FUN!!!
  1. Do you have a favourite card? If so, what is it? Well it’s certainly NOT the Queen of Hearts!!!!
  1. What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Melbourne Magic Festival?
    I am looking forward to EVERYTHING! I never look back. If you look back when time is marching forward you’ll inevitably trip over any obstacles in your way.
  1. Are there any special guests we should keep an eye out for at your show?
    If you see anyone don’t be afraid to call out and let me know as I want to meet them too!

Sounds like The Mad Hatter’s Magical Tea Party will be a fun even for the whole family – you’ll be mad to miss it! Tickets are available here

Melbourne’s most magical time of the year is approaching fast!

Those who know me well (or who have been reading along on this blog) will know that my favourite art form to watch / be entertained by is MAGIC and Melbourne is lucky enough to have its own Melbourne Magic Festival! This annual festival runs during the Winter school holidays (running from June 26th until July 8th this year) and once again I’ll be hopping along to review a few shows where I can.

I’m also very excited to announce that I’ll be posting a series of performer interviews on this blog very soon! If you’re thinking of attending the festival, but you’re not sure which show suits you / your family, then these performer interviews will help you get to know the magical performers a little more (and will hopefully make a show decision that bit easier for you!)

If this introduction already has you wanting to know more, then the full festival schedule (plus the ability to buy tickets) is available now at the Melbourne Magic Festival website so be sure to check it out! We are so lucky to have this one of a kind festival happening every year in Melbourne, so be sure to check it out, support the local arts and even perhaps discover some performers you haven’t seen before.

Review: Paint and Sip by Curious Events Co at Moonlight Manor

Paint and sip setup at Moonlight Manor

As the evenings become colder and darker, a dreary week calls for a bright spot of creativity and entertainment – this is where paint and sip comes in! Housed within the beautiful Moonlight Manor in Croydon (part of the Wyreena Community Arts Centre) by Curious Events Co. The regular paint and sip evenings happen in a well lit and nicely decorated room and come with their own super creative painting host / instructor. The evening I attended with a good friend had us painting sunflowers and our host / instructor Tania was witty and clever, always armed with a fun comment, joke or helpful hint.

What I loved most about the whole experience is that there was no pressure – I felt that with Tania’s guidance we could do no wrong, that we were all going to turn out some wonderful sunflower paintings (and we did!) It was nice to have that confidence for an evening, as my creative background is more papercraft based. I often thinking of painting as super messy (so I don’t tend to do that art style so much at home). To have everything provided and not have to wear a smock over my regular clothing was a total win! It’s also an evening of treats, as, even though you BYO drinks they are served to you by staff members and little plates of cheeses and other treats are also provided. It was also to be a night featuring a couple of other surprises, so you’ll just have to come and see (and paint and sip!)

All of the participants were seated together around one long table which was nice as it meant we had the chance to meet some other people. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with someone new by commenting on their paintings / techniques and sharing some jokes. I also enjoyed how individual each person’s paintings were. Sure, we all painted sunflowers but some people’s sunflowers had a different angle or shape, the leaves and the collars of the sunflowers were different, as was the blending techniques used in the background of each person’s work of art. Paint and sip is a welcome break for the monotony of a working / parenting week, and we all had our paintings to take home at the end of the night (and proudly show to our loved ones which I sure did!). With the weather making indoor events all the more welcoming, be sure to give Paint and Sip by Curious Events Co. at Moonlight Manor a try! They have a series of paint and sip events lined up, so if sunflowers aren’t your thing check out the website for all kinds of curious painting subjects coming up in future.

Hayley and I with our lovely sunflower paintings!

VERDICT: suitable for adults of any / all crafting and painting skills, paint and sip is sure to bring some colour and creativity to your week. No need to worry about messy, costly supplies or no guidance – let Curious Events Co take care of all of that for you. Just BYO drinks and plenty of creative cheer. Highly enjoyable and recommended

Tickets and more information:

*Disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of Curious Events Co.

MICF 2023 review: “Cult Classic” performed by Courtney Crisfield

Courtney Crisfield – image supplied

Courtney Crisfield is passionate about cult classic films…so passionate that her MICF show “Cult Classic” presents like a very entertaining TedTalk on cult classic cinema. Get settled in a comfy seat and (metaphorically) grab a popcorn as Courtney introduces you to her favourite cult classic films (many of which hail from the glorious time known as the 90’s), some well known cult classic films from history and a deep dive into what exactly makes a film a cult classic. Courtney herself is your super friendly, fashionable and very knowledgeable host for this fun foray into cavalcade of cinema cult classics.

Sharing tine between hosting her short films / film trailers on a screen and performing comedy in front of the crowd with various props and quite frankly awesome dance moves, Courtney Crisfield is simply a delight to watch. “Cult Classic” pays homage to not only cult cinema classics but also the nature of the film industry and also some popular cinematic themes (like suspense). “Cult Classic” did progress along at a cracking pace, with Courtney striving to include fun content right up to the last second of show time. My only wish is that this show was feature length as I thoroughly enjoyed every moment – I suspect Courtney would have plenty of material to make a feature length show, for it is clear that her cinematic passion runs deep.

Honestly there is so much to love about this show. Courtney knows how to entertain an audience, win them over / keep them engaged and leave them impressed with a little extra (popcorn) kernel of knowledge too. What more could an audience member want?

VERDICT: Come for the comedy and sprinkling of surprises and stay for the bespoke short films that Courtney has produced for you – “Cult Classic” by Courtney Crisfield won’t be appearing on DVD ** so don’t miss it. Who knows, Courtney Crisfield and her show may become an MICF cult classic of their very own. Five stars *****

“Cult Classic” has one more showing on April 18th at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre. Don’t miss it! Get your tickets here

* Disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of the producer
**probably not but who knows in this crazy world?!

***** Those who know me well are aware I do not use star ratings on this review blog HOWEVER this being a show about cinema cult classics I feel the need to put on my ‘cinema reviewer hat’ and award a five star rating for this show.