On a hot summer’s night, I travelled to eclectic Smith Street in Fitzroy to a bar called The 86 to watch a magic called “Top Hat Tuesday”. Occurring on the first Tuesday of every month, this show has been running for a few years. It is one of the last remaining monthly magic shows in Melbourne, so I was excited to discover what the night’s magical adventures would hold.
After a warm welcome into the theatre, the host of the evening appeared – magician Bayden Hammond. Bayden engaged the audience’s attention and shared some jokes to set the mood. Bayden is friendly and clearly at ease with his audience, as his lively comedy and ‘social experiment’ with chosen audience members and numerals was well received.
A magician by the name of Josh Staley then took to the stage. Josh is a young magician, but has plenty of confidence and rapport with the audience. Starting his set with a humorous account of his day, Josh then presented a comedic ‘ psychic experiment’ involving lots of audience participation. This made the performance more fun and engaging as the number of helpers grew. It’s not really a magic show without a card trick, and we were in luck as Josh presented a card trick that incorporated some modern CSI references! I was fascinated and enthralled as cards appeared from unlikely places. Josh’s set ended with a large round of applause, the audience clearly enjoying his magic.
The card theme continued with Bayden, who reappeared with a very interactive segment of ‘mind reading’. Bayden even descended into the depths of the audience for his effect, which added to the excitement in the audience as anyone could be chosen to help out.
Magician Ben Sheldon appeared next on stage with a bag of candy! You could feel all the eyes of the audience members focused on that bag of candy. Ben certainly understands how to grab the attention of the audience! Personal candy flavour choices aside, I encourage you to experience how Ben can make a bag of candy very magical indeed! Along with some witty comments and interactions with (some reluctant) audience members, Ben also demonstrated his prowess with cards. All of a sudden it was interval time – a chance to grab a drink, socialise and watch some close up magic. The evening’s close up magic was performed by the very clever Nicholas J Johnson.
The second half of the show featured pop culture and TV personality Lawrence Leung. It was a treat to watch Lawrence on stage as I’ve rarely had the chance to see him perform. Despite some minor technical issues, Lawrence challenged the audience to use their imagination during his performance- which I relished , however reactions seemed to be mixed. Lawrence pressed on with his volunteer being a good helper, and a surprising card prediction and reveal was achieved. Lawrence then incorporated some technology into a beautiful and mystifying routine with the assistance of a couple from the audience. It was truly a wonderful demonstration of the connection between the couple and I was filled with a sense of sweet joy at the end of the performance.
Melbourne magic icon Tim Ellis was the headliner of the show. I have seen Tim perform before, and he is so skilled in magic that I never know what he’s going to do next! Tim’s performance included ‘classic magic’ – surprise predictions, multiplying balls and magic with money – all involving plenty of audience participation. Magic takes on an extra dimension and element when members of the audience are able to assist in and share the magic with the rest of the audience. There was a chance for an audience member to become a magician for a portion of Tim’s act, which resulted in unexpected hilarity!
Time is an illusion at Top Hat Tuesday as the night seemed to pass by so quickly. They say ‘leave the audience wanting more” and this show certainly did. The night also held some special highlights for me: Ben Sheldon kindly shared some lollies with me after the show, and I was given the job of ‘guardian of the predictions’ for some portions of the evening.
Verdict: With the line up of magicians changing each month, Top Hat Tuesdays is an exciting and entertaining night out. Do come along and experience it for yourself – this show is reasonably priced ($15 per ticket) and not too far from the city.
*Disclaimer: I do voluntarily help out the Top Hat Tuesday team with marketing and audience management activities, however I still pay for my ticket so I feel a review of this show is warranted.