MMF 2019 Review: Polly Pop It

  Polly Pop It (performed by Imogen Brough) is a positively delightful children’s performer / clown. Dressed in a beautiful rainbow outfit with accents of yellow (hello!) and purple, Polly is an utter delight to behold and be entertained by. Polly spared no time engaging with the smallest audience members, entertaining with hoops and fun banter while the audience took their seats in the theatre. I’ve never seen Polly perform before so I must admit I didn’t know what to expect (aside from what I saw on her flyer). Polly combined circus skills (such as hooping, juggling and plate spinning) with some sweet pieces of magic and some seriously impressive pieces of balloon art. I must admit I was a little jealous of those receiving such epic and awesome balloon creations! In terms of the magic, I don’t want to spoil too much but I can tell you that it was very entertaining and performed well (with some moments that even surprised the adults in the room)!

  Polly did a great job of looking after all her young audience members, especially when she collectively took the group on a couple of exciting adventures (which also had the group up and moving which was clever). Yes, even the adults that were gathered to watch Polly were included in the adventures that she took her audience on (in a response rather than movement way) which was a nice touch! There were some sweet messages about friendship included in the show too, which I especially enjoyed as I sat next to some friends to watch the show and we all know magic is better when enjoyed with friends.

I think that some of the true markers of truly professional entertainers are patience and persistence under challenging conditions, and Polly exuded professionalism while addressing sound difficulties and a particular member of the audience who was keen to reveal how some magic was done (we’ve all seen that type before)! Dealing with all of that with a smile and patience in her stride is a piece of magic in itself.

VERDICT: Pop along to Polly Pop It’s wonderously delightful show for sweet adventures into the land of magic and circus with Polly as your very experienced and patient guide. Perfect show for younger children (less than 7 years old) or for perhaps shy children as some of the activities are done together as a group.


*Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the festival.

MMF 2019 Review: “La Magic Clown”

  This special performance featured a troupe of 13 clowns who took part in a magic and clowning 10 week intensive program conducted by clown Liz Skitch and master magician Anthony DeMasi. The objective of the program was that clowns could learn some magic skills and the magicians within the group could learn some clowning skills which would enhance future performances and skills for all of the participants of the program (all overseen by Skitch and DeMasi). The culmination of the participants’ efforts would be two special magical clowning performances at the Melbourne Magic Festival.

  Upon entering the theatre we were greeted by roving performers as we took our seats. Liz Skitch set the scene of the show and invited us all to unleash our inner child, idiot and cheeky monkey. From the very start I could feel the love, respect and positivity radiate from the theatre and its performers. This was a VERY interactive and action packed show with non stop magic and comedy in equal measures, and with so many performers it is a calvalcade of family entertainment. What I enjoyed most about the show was the reimagining of classic magic routines and pieces by the clowns. There were no standard or predictable routines here and each piece performed seemed to delight the audience more and more. Personal highlights were the very literal comedy magic chefs; and a comedic aerobics trio who set out to make a milkshake in a magical way. All of the clowning was simply wonderful  – I laughed the hardest I’d laughed in weeks!!! At the conclusion of the show, the clowns came into the audience and hosted a clown dance party for everyone which was very enjoyable and ensured that they adueince left the theatre with high spirits.

VERDICT: clowning and magic combine to create a wonder filled experience for everyone (whether performer or audience member). Suspend reality for a short while and reconnect with your inner child and clown. A great initiate that I hope returns to future festivals.

*Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the festival.

MMF 2019 Review: “Almost Unbelievable”

Chi Han Yeo is a smartly dressed unassuming looking man. If you saw him down the street you probably wouldn’t give him a second glance – however it happens that Chi Han is also an exceptional magician, with a particular penchant for card magic and storytelling. This is what his show “Almost Unbelievable” is all about….except the show should really have been called “Unbelievable” because many of Chi Han’s magical feats and miracles simply could not be believed by the crowd. There were moments during the show where I watched on in disbelief at what was unfurling before my very eyes!

Each piece of magic was preceded with a story, and Chi Han was a very engaging storyteller, using lots of emotive words, gestures and fun characters as he weaved his magic and stories for the pleasure of his audience. The magic itself was all done so well and with such emotion. There was a truly baffling poker game and an exploration of Alchemy using card magic (among other routines) which were particular highlights. The Alchemy piece featured some lightening fast card transformations, which made me think that blinking during the show would risk missing out on some of the action. Naturally, with such impressive and lightening fast skills, throughout the show amongst audience members there were gasps, looks of surprise and mutterings of “NO WAY!” and “WHAT?!” as the audience collectively seemed to have their minds blown.

The most special and whimsical storytime was saved for the story of how Chi Han got into magic in the first place and it was a charming performance and story with a sweet message. I understand card magic isn’t for everyone but this show is much more than the sum of its parts and you don’t see it then you are missing out on a special adventure.

VERDICT: “Almost Unbelievable” is just unbelievable in every way. I just can’t recommend this show enough- don’t miss it!

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


MMF 2019 Review: “What The F*CK…and other things you’ll say tomorrow”

Each year I attend the Melbourne Magic Festival, there’s a show that astounds everyone so much that I repeatedly have people recommending the show to me / urging me to attend. In 2019 “What The F*CK…and other things you’ll say tomorrow” performed by Vyom Sharma was that show – and the show title wasn’t wrong!

With a strong use of technology and multimedia (and a rocking drum n base soundtrack), “What The F*CK…and other things you’ll say tomorrow” is compilation of sheer and utter magical miracles presented by Vyom Sharma. I hesitate to overuse the term ‘magical miracles’ but to be honest, there’s little other way I can describe the contents of this show. The audience were continually blown away by each piece of magic that was offered. Lucky audience members that were selected to help out onstage became especially close to the magic (and especially envied, even moreso during particular routines – if you ever get to see the show, you’ll know the ones I’m referring to)! Minds were regularly blown all across the audience during the entire fast paced show. I heard scoffing noises, mutters of “no way!” “it can’t be!” and “GET OUT!!”….the audience simply could not believe what was happening at times. Even the more skeptical audience members were becoming affected by Vyom’s brand of impactful magic. Words even fail me here- a tough outcome for a reviewer! Guess you’ll just have to see the show (and I recommend that you do if it ever returns or is showing near you). I guess if I had to pick moments that were the most exciting / impactful, they’d be the word selection game, a segment when the audience could have a choice in an outcome (as one entity) and the lottery game. The entire show was a highlight for me and I was reveling in each piece of astounding magic – I wished the show did not end. I’ve previously seen pieces of magic from Vyom plenty of times, but never in a show of this caliber that sets the benchmark so high.

VERDICT: “What The F*CK…and other things you’ll say tomorrow” will leave your mind shaken and stirred. Vyom is masterful at magic and making the audience question everything from small talk, beliefs and influence through to their own decision making. Prepare to be impressed, challenged and amazed (and perhaps to lose some sleep overnight too)!

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

MMF 2019 Review: “Emoji_Conj”

  Back again for a third magic show in the same evening (conveniently housed within The MC Showroom), “Emoji_Conj” is performed by conjurer (and self titled ‘Emoji Boffin’) Ben Hutton. Billed as Emoji / Magic Experiment and performed as such, the cheery flyer we’d seen was quite coy as to exactly what we’d see within the show (good to keep an open mind and be open to some mystery with this one)!

Opening with a great sequence, this is a very visual show and will have a strong appeal for those with a liking of / those who regularly use emojis for communication. A deck of large cards with different emojis on them was shuffled by audience members and then stacked by Ben, with each card representing the theme of magic to follow. Over the course of the show, many different story themes were portrayed via the emojis (and corresponding magical acts) – spooky stories, love stories etc. Some of the emojis and acts elicited laughs and giggles from the audience, and Ben often asked the audience members if they regularly used each emoji that appeared during the show.

Those who’ve seen the magic of Ben Hutton before will know his style and potentially seen some of the pieces of magic before, but whether familiar with his work or not this show will leave you transfixed and mystified. There seemed to be some ‘gaps’ and some scenes during the show which were a little confusing, and at times the emojis used were predictable but this largely didn’t impact the audience’s overall enjoyment of the show. For many, it was an amusing and entertaining look at the parallels of magic and emoji, and when they combine they become “Emoji_Conj”.

VERDICT: “Emoji_Conj” is a very visual show that is easy to watch and enjoy, with a modern twist. The ideal magic show for curious people looking for a different interpretation of magic.

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

MMF 2019 Review: “It’s Who You Know” with Michael Pope

  Returning to The MC Showroom in bustling Prahran, a friend and I were excited to see “It’s Who You Know” hosted and performed by Michael Pope. Billed as a mentalism based show with a difference, our curiosity led us to this show and the adventures to be had within.

Upon entering the theatre, we noticed a wide assortment of curious items on stage. Some of these items were on tables, others on stands and there were all manners of different items that weren’t the typical items you’d find at a magic show. Michael’s show was highly engaging right from the start and he used a multimedia slideshow in a clever way to enhance his show. Michael himself mentioned he’d been in showbiz for 32 years and it showed via his energy, enthusiasm and razor sharp wit / comments which appeared regularly during his show. He’s a natural entertainer and comfortable with his audience.

I enjoyed the question of how we get to meet the people in our lives (ie through school? through work? through chance itself?) and this broad theme was explored well. As the show progressed, I felt like I had learned a little about some of the audience members at the show and I enjoyed that. It felt like we were on a fun journey together. The way Michael signified his connection with particular audience members was clever and lighthearted too. This show is one that involves a fairly high level of audience participation – at one point it seemed like a third of the audience had helped out in one way or another! Audience reactions were largely of amazement. There was quite a bit of disbelief at exactly how Michael knew as much as he did! Other reactions involved people muttering “No way!” and others slowly shaked their head at times – seemingly unable to process the ‘all knowing’ power of Michael Pope.  Show highlights for me were a fun effect with cards / predictions and a lottery prediction. The course of the evening reached a crescendo with the final sequence which was highly entertaining and well put together.

VERDICT: With “It’s Who You Know” with Michael Pope – you know you’re in capable hands for a highly enjoyable and action packed show that will leave you bemused and entertained!

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

MMF 2019 Review: “No Smoke, No Mirrors”

  For the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival, a second hub debuted across town in the trendy suburb of Prahran. This hub was housed at The MC Showroom – an intimate and charming inner city theatre just behind bustling Chapel Street. Upon arrival at the venue, I received a warm welcome and was led into the bar / lounge area prior to taking a seat for the show. With a mix of cabaret tables and tiered seating, The MC Showroom has seating styles to suit many shows.

With refined music upon entry and a silent piece to open the evening, Richard Vegas was dressed in a dapper manner and charmed his audience from the moment he stepped on stage. “No Smoke, No Mirrors” may sound like a plain / direct name for a show – there were indeed no smoke or mirrors involved- however the show itself was not plain or unassuming. In fact during most of the show, Richard Vegas shared various stories with the audience matched with pieces of magic. Richard’s an engaging storyteller – during some stories I could feel chills; during other stories the room was so focused on Richard that you could have heard a pin drop. Much of this show could be deemed ‘mentalism’ (which I personally enjoy) but the storytelling really made each piece of magic come alive. My highlights were a cool number prediction using members of the audience, and a piece of magic involving razor blades which was very dramatic (and heart stopping)!

The message that we make our own future through our choices was mentioned throughout the show and that message resonated with me. Additionally there were other connections to be made between pieces in the show which impressed the audience. There were a few children in the audience the night I attended, however this show contained some mature themes so best use your own judgement if you’re keen to take children / younger family members to this show.

VERDICT: a well presented and enjoyable show, with a mentalism focus and a thoughtful message.

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

MMF 2019 Review: Tim Ellis: As Seen on TV

Melbourne magic identity Tim Ellis has been performing magic for 46 years (so far) and is the artistic director of the Melbourne Magic Festival. On top of this, he also has his own family magic show in the Melbourne Magic Festival. “Tim Ellis: As Seen on TV” is a showcase of some favourite magical routines. Over the years I’m sure Tim has built an extensive magical repertoire, however the pieces chosen for this show were all well selected. If you’ve seen some of Tim’s magic before you may be aware of the sort of magical adventure that will be about to unfold, if you haven’t seen a performance by Tim Ellis, then what are you doing?!! Go and book a ticket to his show now!

From an emotional story time opening to a clever toast routine and some cool predictions, Tim’s magic is always enjoyable. The crowd was enthusiastic and enjoying the show with every piece of magic that was performed for them to marvel at. A fun party atmosphere erupted late in the show when balloons were batted around the audience and everyone got into a balloon frenzy – this was very funny to watch (and quite magical too of course)! A tip from me would be to ensure you stay for the encore as trust me – you do not want to miss the special piece of magic that Tim has in store for you.

It’s hard not to enjoy this magic show. I left the theatre with a huge smile on my face and can’t wait to see what Tim Ellis has up his sleeve next time.

VERDICT: Ideal family entertainment from a master magician. Tim Ellis is synonymous with magic in Melbourne and you’re missing out on something amazing if you haven’t been to one of his shows yet.

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



MMF 2019 Review: The Great Kaplan

Each year, the Melbourne Magic Festival prides itself on ensuring that international performers are included in the festival. The benefit of this is that audiences get to see magic they’ve likely never seen before, from places they may not get to travel to. Shows by international performers are highly anticipated and the show by “The Great Kaplan” (David Kaplan) – hailing from the USA – was no exception.

I did not know what to expect when The Great Kaplan appeared on stage after quite an eye catching and hilarious opening sequence, so it’s definitely a case of ‘expect the unexpected’ with this show! The Great Kaplan is a one man magical variety show himself, showcasing a wide variety of skills to his audience. His show is filled with comedy magic and some madcap juggling too. Most of all, The Great Kaplan is a master at conjuring surprising moments – we literally did not know what was about to happen next in each moment of the show and that made it all the more exciting. I was literally on the edge of my seat for most of the show.

The Great Kaplan’s skills elicited an assortment of reactions from his audience members – there were gasps of delight and astonishment, cries of “NO WAY!” and there was a point where I was almost crying with laughter. The Great Kaplan has a fantastic rapport with the audience, and an extra warmth toward the younger members of the audience which I thought was lovely. There were many family groups in attendance on the evening I went to the show and it sounded like everyone was having a wonderful time. The Great Kaplan had some classic one liners and moments of witty banter with audience members (especially his onstage helpers) and that added to the comedy aspect of the show. I’m hesitant to name my personal highlights of the show in case I spoil anything, however there are some magical transformations during the show that will leave you scratching your head and questioning everything!

This show is the perfect early evening show for families to enjoy together – The Great Kaplan is warm to his audience, hilarious and his magic is eye catching, exceptional and surprising in every way. Please see his show before he leaves town!

VERDICT: “The Great Kaplan” is that (great) but he’s also so much more: talented, surprising and incredibly magical. “The Great Kaplan”: a great choice for a fun evening of family entertainment.

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


MMF 2019 Review: The Greatest Magic Show Returns!

Local magic identities and ‘hometown heroes’ Sam Hume and Justin Williams are back again at the Melbourne Magic Festival with their show “The Greatest Magic Show Returns”. In 2018 they had a successful run of their show “The Greatest Magic Show” (which sadly I didn’t get a chance to see) and for the 2019 show they’ve added a character called ‘The Ringmaster’. If you haven’t seen a magic show by Sam and Justin before, they’re basically the rockstars of magic – their shows are hugely fun, their crowds are loud and vocal (just they way they like) and they cram an assortment of magic and circus skills into each show ensuring that the most fun is had by their audiences.

This show is equally enjoyable for children and adults to share together- Sam, Justin and The Ringmaster direct most of their dialogue and requests to the children in the room, however adults can also ‘play along’ too and will likely marvel at the circus and magic and enjoy the jokes. “The Greatest Magic Show Returns!” includes a wide variety of magic with the ‘usual’ sorts of items you’d expect in a magic show – coins, balloons and boxes – but magic happens with some unexpected items as well. As expected in family magic shows, audience participation is a must and Sam and Justin specifically only choose children to help them with this show so they can be the special stars (and take home a cool prize as thanks for their help!). Sam and Justin both have a strong rapport for their young audience and their audience members were keen to assist them – a sea of hands appeared each time the guys needed help. Aside from the magic, this show features lots of physical comedy and some pantomime type scenes to keep the energy high and the laughs coming.

The Ringmaster also has a special job – he opens the show and helps to keep the show on track, as Sam and Justin are prone to get distracted and ‘carry on’ a bit with things. The Ringmaster also has some rules and is keen to ensure they are not broken. Some of the funniest scenes in this show involve The Ringmaster so make sure you keep an eye out for him when he’s on stage.

With each child receiving a FREE magic wand on entry, coupled with a chance to have a photo with the stars after the show  – what more could you want from a magic show? This show provides it all!

VERDICT: It’s a case of “fun times guaranteed” with The Greatest Magic Show Returns. If you haven’t seen Sam and Justin perform their fantastically entertaining magic shows then you simply must – there’s a reason why they have a rockstar status and strong following. They’ve had sell out shows so get your tickets while you can!

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