MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘I Love Magic’

Given that I’m guilty of mentioning how much I love magic to pretty much anyone who will listen, I was compelled to attend magician Anthony De Masi’s magic show ‘I Love Magic’. Anthony is a well known magician in Melbourne and often has a show during the MMF, however I enjoy his magic so much that I always look forward to an opportunity to see more of it.

A magic show by Anthony De Masi is a madcap adventure of all kinds of magical effects – it’s like a magical smorgasboard that appeals to many different tastes and audiences all rolled into one show. There’s card magic, magic with fire, surprise productions, predictions and much more! No show by Anthony De Masi is complete without a visit from his sweet animal friends – many rabbits in hats were passed around the audience so everyone (big or small) had the chance to pat them. Anthony’s magical doves also paid a visit which was fantastic to see – the doves always prompt plenty of ‘oohs and aahs’ from the audience. Audience participation is always included in Anthony’s shows, with plenty of children having the chance to assist with the magic and the wider audience members asked to make magical gestures in order to make the magic happen.

Anthony regularly weaves a theme into his magic shows – last year the theme was about achieving your dreams, and this year the theme was about family and how much magic means to Anthony himself which was touching. It’s these themes that set his shows apart  and makes each show really stick around in your mind afterwards (well I know that is what it’s like for me anyway!) You’re guaranteed a fun show when it comes to Anthony and his marvellous magic – I’ve been watching his magic for years and have never seen a show from him that hasn’t been entertaining!

If you ever have the chance to see one of Anthony’s performances, don’t hesitate to go along! From those who’ve never seen a magic show to those (like me) who have seen hundreds over the years, Anthony strives to entertain all and does it so very well.

MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘Enigma’ performed by Josh Staley

Melbourne magician Josh Staley frequently has shows on during the MMF, however this year he was involved in three of his own shows and I was able to see all of them (which is a rare occurrence as often I can only make it to one or two). It’s an amazing feat in itself to have one show in the festival, let alone to have three! Josh introduced himself to the intimate audience and mentioned that this particular show was all about card magic (which seems to be his favourite kind of magic).

The audience was gathered around a close up table, and Josh prepared to entertain the crowd using his magical skills and various decks of cards. I enjoyed his opening set, in which he invited a couple of children to mix the cards up (like mixing a ‘card salad’) and to display signs to the audience to refer to what was happening during the routine.  I found this routine to be entertaining, with a few surprising twists thrown in. Plenty of miracles with cards were presented during this show, and the audience was transfixed watching all the magic happen right under their noses. Often the entire room was silent while Josh weaved his magic – aside from regular cries of “NO!” and “Get out!” when something unbelievable occurred. Card predictions found and displayed in creative ways was a strength of this show – my friends were shaking their heads and making frustrated sounding noises when their chosen cards were found. Overall it was an impressive show, and one to look out for ion future if you particularly enjoy card magic.

MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘Micky TrickSTAR Tricky Extravaganza’

Micky TrickSTAR’s family show was another daytime show at the MMF that I was keen to see. I had previously seen glimpses of Micky’s magic and he never fails to make me laugh so I had high expectations for his show – he did not disappoint!

Excitedly waiting for his audience (made up of an equal mix of children and adults) near the door of his show, he waved and smiled at the audience who were taking their seats. The room felt like such a friendly, happy space. Micky had a curious amount of items on stage: boxes, tubes, brightly coloured bags and his magical suitcase (of course!) Micky promptly started the show and called out to the audience to see how we were feeling and if we were ready for MAGIC – the audience reaction was a resounding YES! If you’ve never met Micky before, he has a loud personality (and many facial expressions) so there’s no missing him in a room or when he’s asking you a question.

This show included many magical effects, all served with loads of laughs. The appearance of Micky’s dove named “Bubbles” was very exciting, as was a game for a volunteer to choose a prize. The children laughed when things seemingly (deliberately) went awry for Micky, and that made me laugh along too. Micky regularly went into the audience, looking for young and older volunteers to help him. He never had a shortage of helpers from the audience – I frequently spied children attempting to stand on chairs and wave themselves about in order to get selected to assist.

Micky goes to great lengths to ensure his audience is entertained, via his comedy magic (especially his magic words!) and his facial expressions. He never fails to make me laugh – this was undoubtedly one of the most fun shows I saw all festival and it was definitely the family show that made me laugh the most out of all the family / children’s shows that I saw. It’s clear that Micky has many fans, and he appreciates them too – all children at his show received a free poster which I thought was a lovely memento. Go see Micky TrickSTAR if you ever get the chance!

MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘Alex the Magician in Jaw-Dropping 3D’

Well known Melbourne magician Alex de la Rambelje is known as one third of the magic trio ” Gentlemen of Deceit” (for those unaware of this trio, please reference ‘Australia’s Got Talent’), however he has also previously presented solo shows at the MMF. This year I was very excited to attend his children’s show. The show was sold out and the music playing while the audience took their seats made the atmosphere seem like a party. Everyone was very excited for the show to begin.

I enjoyed the structure of this show: once Alex had made his comedic entrance, he quickly explained his quest to the audience and then we all joined him on this collective quest. Alex pointed out a map which had various magical activities on it (such as ‘apple game’) so the audience had some expected reference points on the way to his magical goal. Whenever Alex requested assistance from the audience, a sea of little hands shot into the air. Clearly this show had grasped a lot of attention spans and minds, which is unsurprising as Alex knows his audience well. Magic was promptly presented with clear references to things that kids like (ie Harry Potter, games and snacks). I was impressed that Alex had gone so far to include some educational and health elements to his show – making reference to ‘sometimes foods’ and healthy foods too (apples!) as well as pointing out dimensional differences (ie 1D, 2D, 3D etc) which had a nice link to the show’s title. Towards the end of the show, children had the chance to shout out elements of a prediction which led to some hilarious choices.

This was a show that was equally enjoyed among children and adults alike – highly recommended.

Note: I attended this show as a Alex’s guest.

MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘White Lies’

Having seen and enjoyed Pierre Ulric’s performance of ‘White Lies’ at the 2016 MMF, I was keen to return for another serving of his mysterious and clever magic. Pierre warmly welcomed the audience into the theatre and ensured we were all settled into our seats. Many of us found a post it note and pencil on ours seats – which was to be used for an activity later in the show.

Many of the pieces of magic that Pierre excels at where showcased in this show (some gentle mind reading, spoon bending and his impressive predictions) as well as some surprising effects that I had not seen before. Pierre has a talent for unifying his audience, so we all feel like we’re being taken on the same journey together. Audience helpers are always made to feel welcome and safe, with Pierre gently guiding them. There are many impressive elements to this show, that are not lost on the audience. I heard many gasps and looks of disbelief on faces one moment, with people nodding in agreement the next (when referencing collective experiences during the show). A piece of card magic featuring a couple from the audience was a particularly sweet moment in the show.

Whilst being similar to his show in the previous year, Pierre added some staging and narrative points to this show which enhanced the ‘flow’ of the effects and encouraged the audience to follow him along to the finale. It was hard not to pick up on the instances of ‘deja-vu’ and I was very curious as to where the storyline of the show was leading the audience. If you’re seeking a show with mystery and magic that will leave you wondering how he did it all, then keep a look out for Pierre’s show ‘White Lies’.

MMF 2017 Mini Review: E. G. Lee (International Guest)

Each year during the MMF, I ensure that I attend a performance from each of the International headliners. I regularly watch magic, however I find that each International performer will have a style or effects that I’ve never seen before. I resist the temptation to ‘research’ each performer prior to the show, instead I just attend the shows without any expectations or ideas of what I may experience.

E.G. Lee opened the show with a thrilling and spectacular set of magic set to music. There were many noises of delight from the audience as fire danced from his fingertips and he seemed to command sparks into the air. E.G Lee’s card manipulation was fluid, and he moved with such speed that my eyes often lost track of what I was supposed to be looking at. Lee’s outfit made him seem like a magical rockstar and the audience was lapping up his magic, roaring with cheers and applause at the conclusion of the very exciting opening act.

E.G. Lee explored other facets of magic during his show – it wasn’t all cards and ‘typical’ magic effects. There was a piece of magic involving simply Lee’s hands that was mesmerising and astonishing. Other pieces were poetic, weaving a path between magic and life which I enjoyed. It was a nice pace to slow down to, with Lee mixing up tempo effects to music with slower more poetic pieces. The finale was just as special, with many a happy sigh heard amongst audience members with glistening eyes. It was a show that truly took the audience to another place for a short period of time.

MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘Have you ever, ever heard?’

One of the magic shows for children that I was most keen to attend during the MMF was “Have you ever, ever heard?” performed by The Storyteller (David Chandler). The Storyteller welcomed the audience into his house (presumably in a storybook village) with a song and many smiles. Everyone felt so welcomed and happy to be there. The scenario of this show was that The Storyteller was waiting for a package to arrive via his enchanted mailbox.

This show was everything I expected and more! Songs were sung by The Storyteller, and he encouraged everyone in the audience (especially the adults) to learn the words and sing along too. The audience became the “Pandemonium choral society” for this show and that made me giggle. Throughout the show, The Storyteller would receive items of mail from his storybook relatives, which would prompt another song or magic routine with a storybook twist. Keep an eye out for his imaginary menagerie, and his (often adorable) helpers from the audience.

I was most impressed with the way David handled some insistent audience members who were so enthralled with his character that they frequently tried to get David’s attention to tell him random things. David was quick with a witty one liner or friendly reply in order to address the audience member and to ensure that his show continued on the correct path. A thoroughly pleasant and enjoyable show!

MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘ The Amazing Littlest Greatest Show on Earth’

Spending a week off work watching magic shows allowed me to attend some magic shows for children, that I’d otherwise miss out on while I was at work. One such show was “The Amazing Littlest, Greatest Show on Earth” performed and presented by Ringmaster Rob. I found the concept of this show  – a flea circus – whimsical and harking back to classic forms of entertainment and magic so I was curious to see what this show had in store for the audience.

Upon entering the theatre, audience members were given a colouring page / program which included information about the performers and flea facts. I thought this was a nice touch and memento of the show. After much confusion and discussions from audience members and Ringmaster Rob regarding seating arrangements, everyone was happy with their seating and the show could commence. This show was exactly what I’d expect from a flea circus, and Ringmaster Rob even had a few magical effects to show the audience. A special appearance by Mr Fluffy the dog (puppet) delighted everyone. Multiple technical difficulties experienced during the show meant that the flow of the show narrative was interrupted which was a shame. It was hard to follow which part of the fleas’ circus act we were up to each time Ringmaster Rob had to visit the tech desk for assistance and to sort out issues. Ironic, given portions of such an ‘old world’ flea circus show relied so much on modern technology (for intros and musical cues).

Many children seemed to be enjoying themselves and getting into the spirit of the different personalities of each flea, which was encouraging. Overall, the amount of technical difficulties resulted in a disjointed show. I left the show eager to return to my modern world.

MMF 2017 Mini Review: The Close Up Magic Gala

Each year during the MMF, two special gala shows are presented: The Stage Magic Gala and The Close Up Magic Gala. A lovely friend and I dressed in our Hogwarts colours (myself in my Slytherin robes and my sweet friend in her Gryffindor outfit) and we shuffled into Studio 2 for the show. The Close Up Magic Gala is split between Studios 1 and 2, whereby the performers switch theatres during interval – quite a clever arrangement I think!

Whilst there are too many performers to mention here (many with shows that have just run or about to run during the festival) I can assure you that most of the magic happened on a table, with an overhead screen positioned for those sitting up the back of the theatre. Various assistants were chosen from the audience (many of them children) which added to the communal atmosphere and excitement levels of the crowd. If you were thinking that a close up magic show would be all about cards / card magic, you’d be wrong – this show featured magic fleas, puppets, shell games, martini shakers (Lucy!!), predictions and even some mentalism. With time running out towards the end of the show, performers were running at a feverish pace to entertain the audience and have their sets finish on time.

Personal highlights for me were a special guest appearance from Lucy Darling and her wonderfully alluring martini shaker routine, made even more challenging / entertaining by having a child from the audience insist on being her volunteer. Given that children are generally unaware of the existence / purpose of martini shakers, bursts of hilarity ensued however Lucy remained patient and graceful throughout. Another highlight was a mentalism game with the audience which featured an inflatable object being batted around the audience. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be noteworthy, however the nature of the object itself coupled with the instance of all the children in the audience to grab the object when it neared them rendered me crying with laughter into the sleeve of my robes. Oh the hilarity indeed! By the end of that routine, the entire audience was laughing and everyone was caught up in a frenzy of magic proportions.

I have it on good authority that the gala shows are memorable each year, so given the events of this evening I’m keen to attend this gala again next year and would not hesitate to recommend attendance to others.

Note: I attended this event as a guest of the MMF.

MMF 2017 Mini Review: ‘The Best of the Fest’ July 9th edition

Most evenings at the MMF, one of the last shows to run is “The Best of the Fest” featuring a lineup of 3 magicians which changes each show. The show is hosted by ‘Australia’s Honest Con Man’ and talented magician Nicholas J Johnson. I love attending this show each festival (usually more than once per season) as Nicholas is so welcoming and excited to present the guests for the evening and some of the most surprising pieces of close up magic are witnessed during this show. The theatre is altered to be fairly intimate so each time I attend I feel as if the audience are unified in each piece of wonder.

I was super excited to discover the lineup on this evening was: David Chandler (otherwise known as ‘The Storyteller’), Lucy Darling (my new favourite!) and all round audience favourite Nick Kesidis (Nick Kay). David Chandler usually performs magic for children during the festival, however I was not surprised that his routine with an adult assistant from the audience drew plenty of “oohs and ahhs” as well. His magic is so charming and whimsical. David proceeded to play a guessing game with the audience (with his assistant often getting the incorrect answer) which added to the hilarity.

On this evening, I was delighted that I had just left “The Ladies’ Guide to Deceit and Debauchery” featuring Lucy Darling, when she reappeared during the Best of the Fest. I could not contain my glee and joy as she is a constant delight to watch. Lucy both teased and enchanted the audience with her clever martini shaker routine, followed by some card magic. I sure hope she doesn’t think I’m following her every move – I had booked out most of my schedule of shows a month out from the festival so experiencing 2 shows in a row featuring Lucy was serendipitous indeed.

Rounding out the evening was crowd favourite Nick Kay, adept at miracles with cards and borrowed objects. Ever the cheeky performer, Nick knows how to ‘work the crowd’ to ramp up applause and to ensure everyone has a great time.

Each festival, I often recommend to friends that they attend the ‘Best of the Fest’ at least once – it’s true that each show is never the same, and it always ends up being one of the consistently fun shows each year.