MMF 2018 Review: “Schrodinger’s Wizard” performed by Mr Marmalade

On another cool night at the Melba Spiegeltent, my partner and I were both looking forward to the debut Melbourne Magic Festival performance by Mr Marmalade. The show with arguably the most intriguing and whimsical poster (and title!) had taken our attention and we settled into the theatre ready for an evening of mysteries and curiosities to unfold in front of our eyes.

Mr Marmalade appeared onstage in his dapper sepia coloured suit, with an extra twinkle in his eye and grand moustache twirled to perfection. Commencing the evening with a silent routine featuring rings, Mr Marmalade easily commanded the attention of everyone in the room. I was delighted that Mr Marmalade included some of my personal favourite pieces of magic- card magic with some added danger was a particular highlight as was an escape themed piece! Audience participation was also featured, with those chosen enhancing the magic that much more for the very full room of audience members.

One aspect I thoroughly enjoyed from Mr Marmalade’s show was the emphasis on storytelling. This was a magic show, but also much more as Mr Marmalade spun tales of his Grandpa and other quirky characters that he made reference to along the course of the evening. The storytelling and whimsical mood was enhanced by a musical duo who looped sounds and played musical instruments during the show – some may have found this a little distracting at times, but I felt it matched Mr Marmalade’s aesthetic.

Mr Marmalade’s show flowed so well that we could hardly believe it was his first festival run. You know you’re really enjoying a show when time seems to vanish on it’s own pace. We all hope that Mr Marmalade returns with more of his whimsical, charming magic that has echoes from a sepia coloured past but is just as fitting for modern audiences.

VERDICT: step into Mr Marmalade’s parlour of charm and indulge in an evening of delightful mysteries and magic. A stand out show by an accomplished performer that was thoroughly enjoyable.

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

MMF 2018 Review: “Gobsmacked” performed by Nick Nickolas

During another magical evening at the Melbourne Magic Festival, I was delighted to watch Nick Nickolas’ show “Gobsmacked”. Nick is a well known street performer and regularly appears as a performer on various cruise ships. I’ve never been on a cruise ship and never seen one of Nick’s ‘full length’ shows so I was excited and intrigued to see his show.

Sitting amongst groups of families in the audience, pre show we all listened to some classic upbeat ‘party’ type songs to get us in a lighthearted mood. All of a sudden, there was an announcement and Nick appeared onstage to a large round of applause. Clearly comfortable on stage, Nick wasted no time delighting the audience with his razor sharp humour, snappy one liners and brilliant smile. Of course, being a magic show there was plenty of magic (and surprising magic at that!) however this was a comedy show as much as it was a magic show. Nick is well versed in comedy – some of the jokes reminded me of vaudeville style comedy with a sprinkling of ‘dad’ type jokes – however Nick also respected his modern audiences so nothing was too raw or controversial (especially given his ‘family’ timelsot).

A highlight of the show for me was the audience participation section involving children. Nick is a natural at conjuring extra laughs out of his audience helpers, and at some points during the show the children in the audience definitely laughed the hardest! There was even a sweet message behind some of the magic and comedy, regarding the importance of kindness which I found really touching (as being kind is something that resonates with me and in my life). Nick also had a genuine quality about him (especially when he was talking to his audience helpers) which can sometimes be overlooked in a comedy based show. It was fascinating to learn snippets about Nick’s life and background and how he came to find magic (or how magic found him). The stories in the show built up to Nick’s finale, which was truly a piece of world class magic and made the audience roar with applause.

VERDICT: A comedy magic show with a lot of heart from a polished performer. Versatile enough to adapt and read his audiences well, this show is a ‘sure bet’ if you’re not sure which show to see. If you ever see Nick Nickolas out and about, be sure to stop and catch his show – be delighted, surprised and gobsmacked!

*Disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of the performer

MMF 2018 Review: “Spaghetti, Spaghetti” performed by Luigi Zucchini

On a brisk Sunday morning, I sat in the Melba Spiegeltent with a close friend, surrounded by excited families and children to watch Luigi Zucchini’s performance of “Spaghetti, Spaghetti”. An alias of well known Melbourne magician Anthony DeMasi, Luigi Zucchini hails from the wonderful country of Italy. Although the show was in English, Luigi delighted the audience with an opening speech in Italian which added a multicultural element to the show.

I felt lucky to be at this show as Luigi’s shows are predominantly during the week (while I’m at work). All the hallmarks of an Anthony DeMasi magic show appear within Luigi’s show, as well as an additional couple of surprises. The famed and well loved doves and rabbits of course make their appearances alongside plenty of pieces of classic magic and some awesome productions. If you’re a fan of Anthony DeMasi’s fantastic magic, then I’m sure you’ll be a fan of Luigi’s magic as well! I enjoyed that the magic words for this show matched the show title, and that there were plenty of chances for audience members to wiggle their fingers and chant the words to help make the magic happen.

If you think kids or family shows can be a bit dry or boring, then you haven’t been to a Luigi Zucchini show! Many puns and jokes are included for adults in the audience, and the show kept pace well. A hot tip would be to remember some comfy shoes for the fun dance that happens at the end of the show.

VERDICT: If you’re after a fun, vibrant magic show with that special Italian flair, then Luigi Zucchini is the guy to see. Bravo Luigi! Luigi è fantastico!

MMF 2018 Review: “Personal” performed by Vincent Kuo

I was extremely excited to see Vincent Kuo’s debut show at the 2018 Melbourne Magic Festival, titled “Personal”. I didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect from this magic show – all I knew was that every single friend who had seen it over the course of the week were all imploring me to go see it. Slipping in to see it on the closing evening of the show run, I was not prepared for the evening of magic that was to unfold.

Vincent himself is a 19 year old magician and Rubik’s cube prodigy. Appearing meekly on stage, Vincent’s show was as much about personal stories from his own family life as much as it was about magic. The stories evoked stronger emotions from the audience as the show progressed. The magic itself was phenomenal and extremely sleek at times, and in other moments it was designed to shock and surprise. At various points during his show, Vincent invited members of the audience up to assist him on stage – whether it be mixing up a Rubik’s cube or shuffling and inspecting cards. Vincent was always happy to have people close on stage to watch the magic unfold as they could verify to the rest of the audience what was happening with total objective certainty. Often, the magic occurred with such speed that the audience gasped with delight and surprise. There were times that the magic was so swift (like the changing of a card) that I almost missed the magical moment!

My favourite moment of the show (aside from the finale) was a sideshow marvel (rather than a piece of magic). I won’t give away exactly what that marvel was but it had me leaning forwards, practically balancing on the edge of my seat in order to get a better view – I was transfixed at this point and loved every minute! Vincent was also kind enough at this point to allow audience members enough time to reach the front the stage for a much closer look, which was appreciated as it also served as a mental ‘pause’ during the show.

As for the finale (which was Rubik’s cube based) it was moving, stirring, and quite phenomenal. Coupled with beautiful music, the audience was thrilled to be treated to a transformative routine featuring Rubik’s cubes. The ‘end scene’ as I shall call it was so unexpected and mind blowing that I’m pretty sure I should get my eyes checked in the near future! This show has a lot of latent emotions behind it, however, and I mentioned to my friend after the show that I didn’t know what I needed after the show – a good cry or some ice cream (or both). The emotions sneak up on you in this show, just like the magic does.

VERDICT: The hype surrounding this show was well justified. I cannot recommend this show highly enough (Rubik’s cube fans or not). Poetic, incredible and mystifying. This is an unforgettable magic show that will move you.

*Disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of the performer.

MMF 2018 Review: “That Tingling Sensation” performed by Lucy Darling

In 2017, the Melbourne Magic Festival was visited by a wonderfully enchanting, magical character called Lucy Darling (a creation of Canadian magician Carisa Hendrix). Lucy Darling’s show became a runaway hit of the festival (even winning an award at the festival for best comedy magic). In 2018, the festival was blessed to have Lucy Darling return for another magical performance called “That Tingling Sensation”.

Upon reading the title of the show (which is rather mysterious – the way I like it!) I realised that the title could mean different things to different people, thus I had little idea what to expect when a close friend and I attended the show. The fact that I’d seen a Lucy Darling show previously didn’t serve as much of an indicator of the magic and delightful surprises to come.

One aspect of this show that I particularly enjoyed is that Lucy has really enhanced her magic and storytelling. During her performance, Lucy showcased some truly amazing and mystifying magic. Amongst the laughter by audience members, there were gasps and sounds of surprise and shock. Some of her magic I had never seen before, and other effects that I had seen previously had been tweaked to make them more surprising and impactful. I especially enjoyed Lucy visiting the front row of her audience prior to the show in order to get to know her new “friends”. I think that was a sweet touch – after all, who doesn’t want to meet Lucy Darling, socialite and magician extraordinaire?!! As with all of Lucy’s shows, audience participation is a must. My close friend was chosen for some ongoing witty banter and for a dance routine that had me crying tears of laughter into the sleeve of my blouse a mere five minutes into Lucy’s show. I’ve never seen a magic show that can have me crying (with tears of joy) that early into a performance! I should also mention that Lucy treats all her audience helpers very well. Many helpers return to the audience delighted, wearing a smile. Lucy’s storytelling moments were also well chosen. I came away from her show feeling as though I had learned something. Overall, there were many aspects of this show that I loved – and let me tell you, it is so easy to love Lucy! She melts hearts everywhere she goes.

 You may think that having a super successful run and being the darling of the festival the previous year may mean extra pressure on the show this year, but if there was any of that I didn’t sense it-  Lucy was ever her charming self. Aware that I did see the previous show (twice!) I was hesitant to make any comparisons between shows. You see, each “installment” of Lucy Darling almost plays out like chapters in a novel. Leaving your ‘day to day’ self at the door and immersing yourself in Lucy’s world is such a worthwhile way to spend an evening.

 Another aspect I enjoy about Lucy’s show is that after her performance is over and the audience is heading out, she always lingers at the back of the room to meet her fans which is nice and kind. It makes her shows extra memorable and contributes to special moments for her fans. What more could a fan ask for?!

 VERDICT: A show so nice you’ll want to see it twice! Delightfully magical and enchanting from start to finish, be prepared for Lucy to cast her spell over you (and your heart). A continuing festival favourite of mine and a show I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

*Extra note: in keeping with tradition, I did see this show twice during Lucy’s 2018 festival run. I intend to do so each time she visits our shores.

MMF 2018 Review: “Weirdo” performed by Robbie T

During a fun outing with a friend to the Melbourne Magic Festival, we were lucky enough to catch Perth magician Robbie T perform his show “Weirdo”. Let me confess right here that I count myself among the weirdos – the dreamers, the strange thinkers. It comes with the territory having some geeky pursuits and loving magic.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this show! Alongside showcasing some amazing magic with cards (that I was lucky to be chosen to assist in), numbers and other items, the storytelling in this show is sweet and well selected. At regular intervals during the show, the audience gets to learn about Robbie and take a trip back in time with him back to his school days. During his stories he is lighthearted and isn’t afraid to laugh at his previous childhood self. Robbie also introduces the audience to a friend from his childhood which was adorable, and melted a few hearts in the room. I should also mention that at the end of the storytelling journey, Robbie’s finale had me on the edge of my seat – it was an incredible piece of magic!

Robbie T himself is an amiable and endearing magician. If he detects tension in the room, he knows exactly what to do to dispel that and delight his audiences in the process. Robbie does get help from the audience regularly during the show, always making sure people are comfortable helping out and that his helpers are treated well.

This show is called “Weirdo” but I could call it so many other things – “sweet, delightful and entertaining” being some of the adjectives I’d use. “Weirdo” is still showing at the Melbourne Magic Festival, with the last show on Sat July 14th – don’t miss it!

Tickets: https://magicfestival-premier.eventfinda.com.au/2018/weirdo/melbourne/collingwood

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

MMF 2018 Review: “The Art of Magic and Illusion” performed by The Showmen

I’ve never previously had the chance to see a magic show by The Showmen (comprised of magicians / multi skilled entertainers Justin Williams and Same Hume) so I was VERY excited to catch their show “The Art of Magic and Illusion” at the Melbourne Magic Festival.

The theatre was heaving with an eclectic array of people-  mostly families but people from all walks of life had gathered to watch the magic show. It seems as though The Showmen have some sort of cult following. Commencing the show with an introductory video (backed with a cranking soundtrack) to give everyone a bit of backstory, The Showmen burst onto stage to raptuous applause.

Once on stage, Justin and Sam (The Showmen) wasted little time getting into the magic, which is just what the audience wanted. Each piece of magic shown seemed to be more exciting and surprising than the last. Justin and Sam (The Showmen) are good to their audience, testament to the sheer amount of children and adults wanting to help them out onstage. There were many chances for the audience to help out during this show, often with hilarious results.

What I loved most about this show was the excitement it generated among the audience and within myself. This is much more than a magic show – there were daring escapes (kudos to Justin), performances with fire and even fireworks (literally)! All this excitement built into an incredible finale, which took my breath away. I left the show with adrenaline in my veins, wanting more!

Needless to say, if you get the chance to see The Showmen, then please see them! Support local performers who are super talented and who clearly love their craft so much. I hear The Showmen may be touring soon so keep a lookout for them.

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

MMF 2018 Review: Woody Aragon is a Bald Faced Liar

During each Melbourne Magic Festival I aim to see the International headliners as they bring some special magic that I’ve often not seen, and Woody Aragon was no exception. Woody hails from Spain (a country which seems to consistently produce world class card magicians) and all I knew about him prior to the show was that he specialises in card magic.

The theatre set up was intimately set up for Woody’s close up magic with cards. Woody himself was really friendly, going around and shaking the hands of audience members before his show started. This was a nice touch as it instantly made everyone feel relaxed and almost made it seem like we were seeing a friend perform (rather than a distant magical figure). Some lucky audience members even had the chance to sit next to Woody at his card table. Now, I know what you’re thinking – not everyone is a fan of card magic and one hour of only card magic may seem too much (or too boring!) for some – but let me tell you, Woody produced so many miracles and impossible feats with cards that night! There were times where myself and other audience members were literally perched on the edge of their seats, leaning in to watch the magic unfold under their eyes! Such was the concentration from the audience that you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre during the show. People could not take their eyes off Woody’s cards. Rarely have I seen card magic to be this impactful, baffling and astonishing at the same time.

The pertinent emotion of the evening was disbelief. Woody conjured miracle after miracle and all kinds of seemingly impossible scenarios with different cards. Some card effects were light hearted (like one resembling a flip book of pictures) and many presentations told a story which was fun to watch. Other effects built up over the course of the hour, with the final piece being set to classical music. I’m hesitant to elaborate here as I do not want to give too much away or be too descriptive. Across the evening, the audience greeted the seemingly impossible magic with shakes of the head, with others holding their head (as if the magic would cause their head / mind to roll away). In terms of audience reactions, I heard people muttering “Jesus!” , “No way!” and “Get out!” under their breath with alarming regularity.

I will say that the finale was incredible – Woody briefly revisited a lot of what he had already shown us and then produced a final card reveal which did not disappoint. I left the theatre honestly thinking I should get my eyes checked soon, as so many seemingly impossible feats of magic went down that night. Needless to say, if you ever get the chance to see the magic of Woody Aragon, then rush to get tickets. You won’t regret it.

MMF 2018 review: “Cheeky, Quirky & Classy” performed by Brendan Dooley

One of the aspects I enjoy the most about the Melbourne Magic Festival is to watch performances from people abroad who I’ve never heard of. It’s often a chance to see some magical effects I’ve never seen before, and a chance to support someone who isn’t local to the area. Ticking both of those boxes is magician Brendan Dooley who has ‘hopped across the ditch’ to visit us from New Zealand.

This was billed as an adult’s / mature show (as Brendan also has a children’s  / family show happening during the daytime) however on this evening the intimate crowd was largely made up of families / groups with children. As such, I’m sure Brendan had to ‘edit’ or restructure some of his performance ‘on the fly’ which I found impressive. “Cheeky, Quirky & Classy” is an entertaining show which is easy to watch and share with family and friends. Some surprising card magic and predictions shine in the show, alongside some hilarious pieces of audience participation. Yes- this is one of those shows where the audience is regularly called upon to help make the magic happen- however Brendan is always grateful to his audience volunteers and gives out some seriously awesome ‘souvenirs’ to his helpers too!

I feel that the title “Cheeky, Quirky & Classy” is fitting as Brendan is the personification of these – at various points during the show he displayed his cheeky and quirky nature to the audience, all the while remaining classy in his snappy suit. “Cheeky, Quirky & Classy” delivered in spades on all show aspects, with Brendan’s fantastic humour and witty rapport with the audience alongside his magic delivering many surprises being my favourite aspects of the show.

VERDICT: An entertaining and surprising magic show. If you’re looking to see a magician you’ve never seen before and are looking for a bit of a ‘safe bet’ then Brendan’s show is the one to watch! I hope he returns to visit the festival again soon. Billed as an adult’s show, however feel free to bring the family along as Brendan has magic for everyone!

Tickets: https://magicfestival-premier.eventfinda.com.au/2018/cheeky-quirky-and-classy/melbourne/collingwood

MMF 2018 review: “Kentucky Fried Magic” performed by LJ the magician

This magic festival season, I was extremely excited to watch LJ the magician perform his debut magic festival show called “Kentucky Fried Magic”. LJ is well known on the magic scene (more for his street magic performances) however no one had seen a ‘full length’ solo magic show from him…until now!

Going into the show, I must admit I was curious / dubious as to how the show title would connect or relate to the magic. I needn’t have worried as LJ went about showing us his favourite “12 secret herbs and spices of magic”. There were fun moments and surprises around each corner of this show – none of us knew what to expect at any moment, which made the show exciting. There were some amusing pieces of audience participation, along with LJ’s infamous wit and a steady stream of one liners. I also enjoyed the contemporary aspects of the show, with LJ mentioning popular movies and card games during his show.

 LJ himself is endearing and affable, so much so that the room hardly felt like a room of strangers – by the end of the night it was like we were all friends by the end of the show, having collectively enjoyed LJ’s wonderful magic (and learned some fun facts about him along the way). Despite it being his inaugural performance, LJ appeared to be largely unflappable and the show (and magic) flowed well. The years of performing to street audiences have clearly served him well.

VERDICT: Like its namesake, Kentucky Fried Magic is delicious bite size portions of magic – cooked fresh for each audience! A show that is a joy to watch and easy to enjoy. A magical treat to be enjoyed and shared with friends. This show is best enjoyed by teens and up.

More info / tickets: https://magicfestival-premier.eventfinda.com.au/2018/kentucky-fried-magic/melbourne/collingwood

*Disclaimer: my friend and I attended as guests of the performer