Review: Interactive Impossibilities

With the current global conditions, many sources of entertainment have taken their offerings online, and magic is no different. On a Saturday night (Sunday morning for those in Australia!) I attended my very first International magic show held on Zoom. This show, called ‘Interactive Impossibilities’, featured three entertainers: illusionist Leon Etienne, magician Jimmy Ichihana and mentalist Bryan Miles. Each entertainer was beaming in from different areas of the world which added extra excitement – Leon was in NY, Jimmy in FL, and Bryan beamed in all the way from South Africa! Most of the performers had appearances on TV shows like “AGT” and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” so I was confident that the audience was in store for an entertaining show.

The magic started as soon as the audience was let into the zoom ‘room’ with a cool countdown effect featuring playing cards. This created some excitement for the show to start. Leon Etienne (with hair that seemed to defy gravity!) opened the show with clever magic featuring items from around the house (tape and paper). I don’t wish to spoil too much of the specifics of each performance, however broadly – Jimmy Ichihana showed some incredible card magic (some of which the audience could follow along with in real time which was fantastic); and Bryan Miles is definitely a master of mind manipulation / mind control – a master mentalist. If you ever thought that mind reading couldn’t be done en masse via zoom then think again! Bryan’s segment was by far the most interactive with audience members, which also made it the most memorable. I felt that Bryan was playing some fun games with the audience at times – at one point, a ‘Pictionary’ type game appeared which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Throughout the show, there were numerous chances for members of the audience to help out and I enjoyed this aspect – I not only felt like I was meeting other magic fans from all around the world but we all had the chance to share in the magic together via zoom reactions / facial reactions and the chat window. The performers all regularly visited the chat window to see reactions and responses from audience members which was nice. Additionally I had the most wonderful chance to help out as a member from the audience, made more incredible by Jimmy Ichihana’s mind blowing card magic. Jimmy’s card effect made me say ‘NO WAY!’ in front of an international audience – it was that hard to believe! Quite a feat in itself that impactful card magic can be done via a screen half a world away – you really do need to see it to believe it!

Overall, ‘Interactive Impossibilities’ was well presented and organised. The usual issues that often plague zoom meetings (like sound issues / bandwidth dropouts / time lags etc) were not present during this show. The entire show appeared to be live (vs shows that combine live and pre-recorded content). There are benefits to each online format (fully live versus a combo of live and pre-recorded) however I felt that being fully live enhanced the ‘exclusive’ nature of the show – and I like that. Attendance was capped to 30 people and this enhanced the exclusive aspect of ‘Interactive Impossibilities’. It was closer to the original experience of watching a show in real time, as opposed to watching pre recorded content (which feels no different to watching a video / streaming service online). Post show, my desk looked like I had been to a magic show – there were cards scattered across my desk and predictions made. Amazing that an experience that closely resembles a magic show in real life can be replicated online.

I’m not sure if this online magic experience will be repeated, but I highly recommend that you keep a look out for ‘Interactive Impossibilities’ and attend if you have the chance. It’s a fun hour of magic that will leave you impressed and intrigued.

The Melbourne Magic Festival 2020 Online Gala Show

Like many other forms of live entertainment planned for 2020, The Melbourne Magic Festival has had to be postponed until 2021. Not at all surprising in these times – I’m extremely lucky to have a stack of happy memories to reflect on from past years – however this time of year doesn’t feel the same without the festival’s charm and enjoyment. It feels like a bleak winter this year.

Not all is lost (especially for fans of magic) as the team behind the Melbourne Magic Festival, led by local magic superstar Tim Ellis, held an online version of their annual Gala Show. The performers donated their time and talents and the online gala raised money for the festival itself (for, even with an event postponement the bills and costs keep rolling in). Hosted by Tim Ellis himself and held on Zoom, ticket holders were asked to dress magically and keep their webcams on to enhance the level of enjoyment and keep magical enthusiasm going. It was great to see a mix of age groups tuning in, from people on their couches / sofas, to young adults with headphones on, to families with children all smiling and waving. There was a lovely spot of LIVE piano music pre show, performed by Andy Pobjoy at Piano Bar Geelong. It was a fun way to start the show, and many audience members could be seen bopping along, clapping or moving their hands in the air to the music. A sweet medley of tunes played on piano (accompanied by singing) had broad appeal for the audience (including some hits from Queen and also some Frank Sinatra favourites). This was a treat as not many have had a chance to travel beyond their own suburb (let alone across then city and then some!). It felt like a mini magical getaway.

The online show itself was a first for me – I mean, sure during the work day I have meetings over Zoom but I’ve never tuned in for entertainment. I was curious to see how the show was going to play out, with mixed segments of live and pre-recorded magic as well as the potential challenges asking for audience volunteers could bring during the show.

I have to admit that the online show was just about as enjoyable as a show in real life! I saw some of my friends in the audience and we exchange greetings in the chat area, which brought much joy to my socially starved soul. The magic (whether live or pre-recorded) still made me laugh, gasp and cheer as usual. Much of it was just as amazing as it would be live (especially the piece by Lawrence Leung which was brilliant!) Many local favourite magicians were in the lineup (including Dom Chambers, Anthony DeMasi and many many others). There were special appearances with greetings from overseas magicians (such as Max Maven, Boris Wild and Shawn Farquhar) – many of whom were past / planned International guests at The Melbourne Magic Festival – which was a nice touch. It made it seem like those International guests missed the festival too, but was also fantastic to see them introduce other performers. The gala included a performance by the divine Lucy Darling which was an indulgent treat as usual. There were far too many show highlights to mention here, however I very much enjoyed seeing some of my favourite performers (whether local or international) – even if the segments were pre-recorded I still smiled and waved as if they could see me in real time.

Another aspect I appreciated about the show was the short and sharp nature of the magic segments, with the performers getting right to the magic. It reminded me of a variety show, where the performers only have a few minutes to impress. I liked that as, going into the show, I was concerned that it would be a long stint online. These days, having a lot more screen time than I usually would means that I do get ‘screen tired’. It was definitely a different medium with which to show magic, however the magic was just as impactful. I enjoyed dressing up in a nice magic themed outfit for the show (as these days, I’m in casual clothes all the time). I miss getting dressed up to go out so that was a nice change of pace for the evening.

Like many other users of Zoom and other online platforms (whether social or business), online mediums aren’t without their perils…..Low user bandwidth can be a devil, especially during a live segment that required audience participation. There was a lot of speech / vision lag during that segment, so I don’t feel like I caught much of that performance. There were also a couple of points where the same pre-recorded segment was played again (and then halted)- however that prompted some comedy from the show host Tim Ellis, which was amusing. I also had a technology lag (my issue) with the platform closing, and I then couldn’t get back into the show as the participant number had reached its max. Frustrating, but I eventually got back into the show and stayed in (thankfully!) Those that regularly use Zoom or other platforms are well versed in the pitfalls of such systems, and no user is really immune to those. None impacted on the enjoyment factor or enthusiasm of the audience members during the show.

The Melbourne Magic Festival Online Magic Gala was a fun show, and a nice virtual outing to a festival I’m missing very much this year. It was nice getting dressed up and virtually chatting to friends I’d normally see during the festival as well as watching some of my favourite magical performers. I can only hope that there will be more virtual magic shows to partake in, especially during these socially distant times when we’re all unsure when live performances will return to Melbourne. Thank you to everyone at The Melbourne Magic Festival for organising this special online event.

For more information / news of future performances:

The Melbourne Magic Festival: https://melbournemagicfestival.com/

Piano Bar Geelong: https://www.pianobar.com.au/geelong

 

Gosh, how the world has changed!

In late February / Early March this year, I spent a weekend soaking in the sights, sounds and awesome shows of the Adelaide Fringe Festival….little did I know that the world at large was set to change a mere 2 weeks later.

I have been ultra quiet on here as (like many others) I’ve had to juggle a slew of different variables – working from home and the challenges that brings, being away from friends and relatives, and having many plans in flux. There is also the sad fact that many forms of live entertainment have been put on hold during this time (yes, I’m still being entertained via Netflix and Disney+ but that’s vastly different to physically attending a live entertainment show). Understandable in these times, however unfortunate for everyone involved all the same. The global conditions have meant that the arts sector needs assistance more than ever (from the government, from patrons / sponsors and from audience members).

The changing face of the world has seen a rise in online ‘virtual’ magic shows, which come with their own challenges. I was recently lucky enough to attend a virtual magic gala (run by the team at the Melbourne Magic Festival) so stay tuned for a review of an online magic show (certainly a first for me!) which was a fun way to stay connected to an art form that I enjoy so much.

In these times, more than ever, it is important to stay connected (yet distancing as appropriate) and to stay well.

ADL Fringe 2020 review: ‘Suspension of Disbelief’

Back at Ayers House (but in the intimate Library room) the audience is transported to an old shop full of antiquities and curios. Local magicians Jamie Ramzan (one half of ‘Suspension of Disbelief’) plays the older, wiser curator of the shop while Baenedict Thievenathan is the other half of the duo – and is Jamie’s understudy. Indeed, after a welcoming introduction and commencement of the storyline, Jamie asks the audience to suspend their disbelief for the next passage of time and take in the curious magical objects of the shop (in addition to the magical and mystifying skills of the show performers!) The story and the strong magical talents of each performer make this show shine. Despite the ‘master’ and ‘understudy’ roles I felt each performer was equally matched in skill and storytelling efforts. Great effort was taken to draw the audience in, so that rather than it being the audience vs stage the line was blurred between audience and stage…

Without giving too much away, over the course of the show the greater storyline is referenced regularly so the audience doesn’t have a chance to get lost among all the magic that unfolds in front of them (and trust me when I say there are some strong pieces of magic in this show!) There’s so much to enjoy within ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ especially when the show covers many styles of magic. During the course of the show I heard gasps of surprise, saw shaking of heads and there was even a moment of tension where it seemed like time slowed down, with the whole room completely silent.

At the end of the show, when the story was done, I felt like all the audience members had been on a journey with each other and the magical hosts. It was a nice feeling which held it’s own warmth

VERDICT: A charming show in an intimate parlour setting, that will have you talking and thinking well after the show has ended. Suspend your own disbelief and get swept away in the story and magic of this immensely enjoyable show. I can only ‘Suspension of disbelief’ return for another chapter next year.

*Disclaimer: I attended this show as a Fringe passholder

Tickets / more info:https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/suspension-of-disbelief-af2020

ADL Fringe 2020 review: “Improbable Deductions” performed by Auslusion

Local Adelaide magic duo Auslusion (Scott Stunz and Jace Wonders) return to the fringe with their detective based magic show “Improbable Deductions”, housed within the beautiful ballroom of Ayers House. I’d seen Auslusion previously a couple of times, however I’d never seen a show quite like this one – where the show was an equal split between a murder mystery and a magic show (all with Auslusion’s signature 1920’s flair of course!) This show had an extra appeal to me as I grew up watching many murder mysteries and classic detectives on TV. I could see that Stunz and Wonders enjoyed playing their roles as magical detectives, questioning members of the audience and selected ‘suspects’ then using their magical powers to help solve the murder mystery. Post all their great detective work, Auslusion went straight into the more ‘traditional’ magical portion of the evening, which was very enjoyable (though that could describe  the entire show). Along the way there were plenty of laughs, some fun pieces of mentalism and some engaging audience participation segments.

Another great aspect of this show is that it’s suitable for families. As soon as murder mysteries are involved, I felt the theme could potentially be a little less exciting for children (or even a bit scary for some) however on the night I attended, there were children in the audience helping to examine ‘evidence’ and busily trying to have their parent chosen to help out on stage. I found ‘Improbable Deductions’ an easy show to watch and enjoy.

VERDICT: A fun magic show with a detective theme, that is easy for the audience to enjoy. It’s clear that Auslsion enjoy their detective roles, and this adds to the enjoyment of the show for their audience. The magical pieces are enjoyable and clever, with audience volunteers looked after. A great show with wide appeal.

*Disclaimer: I attended this show as a Fringe passholder.

Tickets / more info: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/improbable-deductions-af2020

ADL Fringe 2020 Review: Maho Magic Bar

Maho Magic Bar is billed as a special experience, and that it is. A neon light covered exterior held a room with 4 bars, and a central area decorated with cherry blossoms. With around 6 guests to each bar table, the hour was spent with 4 different Japanese magicians performing feats of magical miracles and card magic right before our eyes taking turns at each table. The magic was smooth, precise and very impressive. A pleasing array of Japanese drinks and spirits were available for purchase, along with a few cute souvenirs.

If that wasn’t enough, a particular highlight was the ‘special orders’ menu where for a mere $10 you could purchase a special experience (that was often solely just for the buyer, though the rest of the bar patrons could watch on). Needless to say, the names of some of these ‘special orders’ were quite coy and on one occasion I received way more than I bargained for! The level of audience participation through the whole event is fairly high – as each magician wants to involve you in their magic – plus the ‘special orders’ mean that extra attention is lavished on the buyer. The host for the evening is fantastic and has quite a few surprising skills himself. He definitely added to the fun and excitement of the evening.

Elements of the ‘special orders’ and much of the magic performed had a Japanese flair, which I very much enjoyed as I have been to Japan and miss the country and its quirks and icons.

VERDICT: Maho Magic Bar was everything I wanted it to be and so much more. The ticket price means this is a premium experience, but whether you’ve been to Japan or not you’re in store for a fascinating and amazing hour of magic. I was genuinely disappointed that I couldn’t return for another serve of fine Japanese magic, alongside some madcap surprise adventures.

Tickets / more info: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/maho-magic-bar-af2020

 

Tay Around Town – the return!

Hello readers, yes, I have returned for another year of witnessing amazing entertainment and writing about it. There has been quite the gap between blog posts due to some personal items arising before Christmas, then post Christmas I bought a house with my partner!! Which was exciting and stressful in equal measures!!!

So, I thank you for your patience during this time of me shuffling all my possessions to the other side of town (and misplacing many things in the process!) No need to fear, I’m back attending events and shows and there will be lots more for you to read and enjoy very soon. Speaking of reviews, I have just spent another joyful weekend in Adelaide for the Fringe festival and look forward to sharing my adventures with you. Pre Adelaide I also caught Alice Cooper’s latest concert offering “Ol’ Black Eyes is Back’ so look out for that review in due course too…but for now, grab a cuppa and read on to discover what Adelaide Fringe 2020 has in store for you.

Review: The Gipsy Club Cabaret

 Within the bohemian inner city suburb of Northcote, beyond unmarked doors and up a set of stairs you’ll find venue 24 Moons. A mysterious and fantastic night spot / performance space that transforms once a month into The Gipsy Club Cabaret.

Upon entry, I was warmly greeted by some friendly door staff who mentioned a great place for me to sit. I appreciated this, as it was my first time visiting this venue (and show). This is definitely the type of place that rewards those who arrive early!

 Welcoming the audience and setting the musical tone for the evening, band The Royal High Jinx opened with an upbeat set of songs which had the audience clapping and cheering along. Their happy beats were infectious, with audience members swaying and moving to the beat (which carried throughout the evening). MC Michael Wheatley looked much like a cross between a bohemian and Gomez Addams, and had plenty of snappy lines to entertain the audience with between acts (as well as a song, which was a nice touch). The Gipsy Club Cabaret is billed as a showcase of Eastern European style music, dance, sideshow and circus and it delivered in the most entertaining and surprising ways! Many of the dance acts which were set to tribal and Middle Eastern music truly took me away to another place. I honestly forgot that it was a Friday night in suburban Melbourne while I was there. There is naturally much to write about when a smorgasboard of entertainment happens right before your eyes, however I’ll try to pick some highlights (as hard as that may be!)

The Quizzical Mr Jeff was a highlight of the evening with his sublime manipulation, juggling and surprise productions. Fast paced and fantastic, when The Quizzical Mr Jeff is onstage you do not want to be looking anywhere else! Throughout the evening, the audience was introduced to many dancers, however they were all a highlight for me – whether it was dancing with swords or pretty flowing garments, or the usual bellydancer’s skirt that jingles, it was so easy to get carried away with the rhythm and spectacle of it all. Ronicka and Ayfer are wonderful to behold as a duo, as much as when they are solo performers. I much enjoyed Afyer’s dancing in tall heels, with her sassy dramatic hair flicks. Ronicka’s precision and strong poses were equally as captivating. Azra and her belly dance school were a delight. Azra’s solo performance was beautiful and exciting as she held all the eyes in the room. Dancers from her school were joyful, energetic and brought a whirling, whimsical feel to the evening. During their performance, we may as well have been in a courtyard in Morocco or in a far away place. All the dancers of the evening were spellbinding.

 My personal highlight of the evening was Ferdi Cobra’s Kiss. I have seen many shows including fire performances / fire dancing, however none to date have ever been like Ferdi Cobra’s Kiss! Tattooed and toned, Ferdi wound his way through the audience, steaming up even the coldest of audience members. Quick with a flame and his hips, Ferdi lavished attention on the(mostly female) members of the audience. They say “it’s all in the hips” and that hips don’t lie and well those sayings are all true in Ferdi’s case! Playful without over-stepping boundaries, Ferdi made the audience excited and we knew how to make him smile in return – my voice was husky I whooped and cheered so much. I can guarantee that the internal temperature of the room was much hotter when Ferdi was performing – even I started to sweat. If any show producers are reading this: please bring Ferdi Cobra’s Kiss back for an encore performance!!

 The fun of the night didn’t end post show, as The Royal High Jinx played some post show sets and the audience were invited to stay around to dance. This continued the fun atmosphere of the evening. A lovely way to end the show (versus having to hastily depart the venue). Some lucky audience members even got to dance with Ferdi (ladies, please form a line!) Do bring a nice outfit and your dancing shoes to this show.

VERDICT: If you’re ever looking for an escape on a budget – be enchanted and swept away in the beauty and movement of The Gipsy Club Cabaret! Highly recommended for a fun night out. Would not hesitate to return for a future night of entertainment.

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

Further information:
Gipsy Club Cabaret Facebook Page

Where has Tay Around Town been?!

Hello readers! Yes, it has been over a month since my last post. I haven’t forgotten about you, there has just been a flurry of action in my daily life including (but not limited to):

  • Attending a friend’s wedding in late October – there was even magical entertainment at the wedding which was very exciting!
  • The usual Halloween celebrations – Halloween is my favourite holiday, so I like to celebrate it well (which naturally takes some effort)
  • A weekend in Adelaide for Supanova pop culture convention – more about that in a later blog post!
  • Currently looking for a house (the joys!)…which unsurprisingly takes up most of my weekends these days plus some extra admin time during the week. It’s a time consuming process…

I’m pleased to say that I have been out and about lately, so will have some new reviews for you all shortly – stay tuned!

Melbourne Fringe 2019 Review: “Game Boys Cinematic Universe”

Eden and Josh are the “Game Boys” and are your very friendly and enthusiastic hosts for their show “Game Boys Cinematic Universe”. The Game Boys do well to transform a small theatre within Trades Hall into a fun backstage ‘trolley ride’ via the Game Boys Studios Backlot Tour (reminiscent of the sorts of trolley rides at theme parks that I’m sure many tourists have done before) with some clever graphics and jokes included.

“Game Boys Cinematic Universe” is an action packed and very interactive show, and the Game Boys waste no time sharing knowledge of their favourite movies with their audience, mixed in with some fun games and activities. This show does feature some audience participation, but much of it was off stage and the Game Boys are ultra friendly and treat audience members very well. Personal highlights for me were the parody moments with prop comedy, some immersive play scenes and the clever movie parallels that were explored throughout the show. Another highlight was the Game Boys’ penchant for a certain big budget movie of the 90’s with iconic music which conjured some fantastic nostalgic moments for everyone in the audience. This show contained a lot of fun activities, with one of my favourites being a movie title game show – which made for some very clever and very entertaining moments!

“Game Boys Cinematic Universe” is a light hearted show that demonstrates a lot of depth by the time show ends, all of which is enhanced by Eden and Josh being genuine movie buffs and clearly holding much movie knowledge between them. The Game Boys take a clear delight in surprising their audience and for me, the surprises just kept coming throughout the entire show. I noticed that at the end of the show, much of audience was beaming and congratulating the Game Boys on such an enjoyable adventure (well deserved!) I’m sure even the most hardened movie critic would find this show irresistibly enjoyable.

VERDICT: Hold onto your hats, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times and strap yourselves in for a very fun evening of fun theme park lines, movie puns and heavy doses of movie nostalgia! Game Boys Cinematic Universe runs deeper than quick movie one liners to create some sweet moments of movie magic for audience members and movie fans alike. Currently screening for a very limited time – don’t miss out!!

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

Tickets / info: https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/game-boys-cinematic-universe/