Sadly, the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival has vanished for another year – the magicians have packed their suitcases, waved their wands and are probably appearing elsewhere by now. I always feel sad to see the festival go, because for two weeks I feel like it’s a wonderful magical adventure each and every day with special moment around every corner. Beyond the magic, the Melbourne Magic Festival always presents an opportunity to laugh and enjoy magic with my friends, and to meet new friends. Additionally, 2019 was the first year I was able to take the full two weeks off from my ‘day job’ to fully immerse myself in the festival (which made me immensely happy), and to write about each of the 38 shows that I saw. This also means that I hold a new PERSONAL BEST of 38 SHOWS SEEN during the magic festival’s two weeks!!
For those of you new to this blog, 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 excelled either in presentation, magical effects or by blowing away my expectations. Often these are the sorts of shows I talk about long after the festival has ended (sometimes even years afterwards!) Each year I’ve compiled this list, the amount of shows on the list has changed- this year there are 10 shows on the list (plus a couple of bonus ‘special mentions’!). There are also more mentions of family shows on the list – due to number of shows seen and vastly higher numbers of family shows on the festival program this year. Another change this year (probably partly due to the fallout of watching 38 shows!) is that I have a NEW listing which will be in a separate blog post….of the 3 shows that made me cry with laughter!
Please enjoy Tay’s Top Ten shows for the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival, and congratulations to those who made the list!
“What The F*** And Other Things You’ll Say Tomorrow” performed by Vyom Sharma
During the first week of the festival, this show was the talk of the festival itself – and for good reason! Totally impressive show that blew away all my expectations. It was well put together and weeks later I’m still thinking about this show. I loved the modern references and nature of much of the content and the surprises that just kept coming.
“Indulgence with Lucy Darling” performed by Carisa Hendrix
What more can I say about the incredible magician and character that is Lucy Darling?!! She has this amazing (and quite frankly unparalleled) habit of just blowing me away with her beautiful magic each time she appears in Melbourne. A lot of people have had to listen to me ‘rabbit on’ about Lucy (especially my partner) but it’s all for good reason. She’s often the talk of the festival, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets her own fan club here soon. If you haven’t seen a Lucy Darling show yet, you’re missing out – treat yourself to her amazing magic next time she’s in town!
“The Handsome Jack Experience” performed by John Lovick
We are so lucky in Melbourne to have Handsome Jack come and visit us! He has an awesome reputation and show to match. Handsome Jack is the complete package: suave (think of a secret agent / James Bond type who also does magic!) incredibly talented, mystifying and with a delightful show. Bonus – dreamy narration voice! He wowed many audience members and ensure we all had a great time – what more could you want?!
“Lu Chen: Live in Melbourne” performed by Lu Chen
One of the international superstars of the festival, and (judging by the fact his entire show run was sold out pre festival) one of the hotly anticipated stars that everyone was keen to watch. Lu Chen’s show was highly enjoyable and had some exquisite moments. Top class mentalism with strong storytelling and surprising moments right up to the show’s end. Simply fascinating
“The Great Kaplan” performed by David Kaplan
Another international superstar of the festival, The Great Kaplan’s show was an entertaining, highly surprising and often hilarious adventure. It was so exciting as I literally had no idea what to expect! I laughed way more than I ever expected to laugh during this show. There were some scenes that may have caused my brain to break just a little (those that saw the show will know what I’m referring to). What’s better is that this was a perfect show for families too – The Great Kaplan’s show really has it all.
“The Quizzical Mr Jeff” performed by Mr Jeff
This was an unusual show in that it was very circus based (however still very magical, with magic features included) AND it was predominantly performed in silence. Mr Jeff’s show is one of the shows that I’ve been thinking about a lot, and it has already been over 2 weeks since I saw his show! All of Mr Jeff’s variety of skills are amazing, his show is hilarious and I immensely enjoyed the audience interaction elements. His contact juggling took me to another dimension. I can’t say enough good things about him and his show!
“Boondoggle” performed by Nick Nickolas and Ruby T
I had reports all week of people enjoying this show, and I was not disappointed! Nick Nickolas and Ruby T performed a highly entertaining show that combined each of their talents with some great storylines. Nick himself is multi talented but for his show his forte seemed to be card magic and quick one liners with the audience; Ruby T charmed the audience with her fantastic mind reading and sweet comedy / facial experessions / interpretive dance. This show was a true delight and still makes me smile thinking about it a week later.
“Flower Press Parts 1 and 2” performed by Dane Certificate
Dane’s shows are a consistent personal highlight for me, as his shows are non linear and very surreal- which basically enhances the unexpected nature of his shows. To write too much about what goes on would be to give far too much away. Dane Certificate’s shows are for those who seek to look beyond the traditional concepts of magic shows. Often his shows combine many art forms in one (magic; theatre; origami etc). ALWAYS a personal highlight.
“Vincent” performed by Vincent Kuo
Vincent approaches magic in a different way to others and I vastly appreciate that. An extremely humble magician who often doesn’t provide any blurb for his show, you simply need to attend the show and just sit back in wonder. Impressive and exquisite magic that will have you thinking long after the show has passed await you at Vincent’s show. His show was a celebration of many things, and I felt so uplifted afterwards.
“MAYHEM!” performed by Brendan Dooley
This family magic show was WAY too enjoyable to not include! Some children’s / family magic shows can be a bit dry or disengaging for adults, but Brendan made sure his show was enjoyable for everyone. There were hilarious moments, fantastic interactions with audience volunteers and some surprising magic (that even surprised me!) MAYHEM! blew away all my expectations away and Brendan Dooley himself is a natural on stage – talented and a joy to watch. Thinking about this show still makes me smile.
Given the number of shows I saw this year, the top ten list was a challenge to compile so I also wanted to give a quick ‘shout out’ for some shows that have earned special mentions:
“Almost Unbelievable” performed by Chi Han Yeo: in fact was an unbelievable show of card magic and storytelling. I feel sad for those who missed out on this show.
“The World Awaits You” performed by Lachlan Wilde: firstly, I take my hat off to Lachlan for an awesome show title. Secondly, the show was pure enjoyment to watch. I’ve seen Lachlan’s magic for a while now but I loved how everything came together in this show.
“Up Close and Personal” performed by Carisa Hendrix: we are lucky to have Carisa Hendrix bring her cast of wonderful characters to the magic festival, but this show makes us even luckier. I’m sure it’s easier to hide behind characters however each year Carisa goes a step beyond, sheds her characters and shows audiences some truly amazing close up magic. A recurring festival highlight for me.
“Now You See Us” performed by Lee Cohen, Nicola Gidley and Prue Spencer: a fantastic show by some incredibly talented women. Such an enjoyable show with some important messages.