MMF 2019 Review: Now You See Us

 “Now You See Us” is performed by three very talented female magicians: Lee Cohen, Nicola Gidley and Prue Spencer. Each are known individually for their magical talents but their talents combine in “Now You See Us”. The premise to this show is that female magicians have been in the shadows for too long (as merely ‘assistants’ etc) and that NOW is their time to shine…and shine this show does!

 Every moment of this show is enjoyable, from the intro video and combined routines, to the sections where Lee, Nicola and Prue have the chance to perform their own favourite routines. There are a number of special guests to look out for so keep your eyes peeled during this show! I don’t want to spoil too much, but I can tell you that “Now You See Us” is highly entertaining, enjoyable, and is a perfect show to share with your family. It’s more than just a magic show, as some of the magicians have skills in other areas (like juggling) which enhances this show to be more than the sum of its performers. Snappy and sassy tunes make the audience bop along while enjoying the fun magic and surprises occurring throughout – there’s literally never a dull moment in this show! If you’ve seen any of the magicians perform previously, then I encourage you to see them all in this show as it is clear they’ve all gone ‘above and beyond’ to create a spectacle for their audiences. It’s likely you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.

VERDICT: In “Now You See Us” Lee Cohen, Nicola Gidley and Prue Spencer prove that when their powers combine they create truly incredible and impressive magic. An enjoyable show that I wished didn’t have to end.

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

Tickets / info: http://melbournemagicfestival.com/now-you-see-us/

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MMF 2019 Review: The Just Joshing Magic Show

Magician Josh Staley is well known for his family / adult magic shows focusing largely on his card magic, so I was keen to see his magic show for children called “The Just Joshing Magic Show”

There was a nice mix of magic themed music playing as audience members took their seats in the theatre (or on the floor mats for children wanting to be closer to the action). Josh Staley had a relaxed demeanour throughout the show, and had a strong rapport with all the children in the audience / his volunteers from the audience. In terms of what sort of magic to expect, Josh has a wide repertoire of magic to show and entertain his young audience with – wands go wayward, magical coins appear, and there’s magic with silks…which brings me to one of the best lines in the show from Josh (when addressing a young audience member) -“I’m not made of silks, young man!”. Waves of giggles and ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’) were heard all throughout the show as Josh captured the attention of the audience with his magical talents. One of the highlights for me were the priceless looks of wonder and astonishment from his volunteers  – clearly Josh’s show will be one they remember for a long time. Another personal highlight was the ‘magician’s lunch’ scene which was very funny indeed. Josh’s finale involved many members of the audience and had everyone saying “WOW!”

Verdict: A highly enjoyable magic show for families with children 7 and under. A solid choice for a fun, relaxed magic show.

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

MMF 2019 Review: Simon Coronel: Things By Simon

Simon Coronel is one of the ‘homegrown heroes’ of the Melbourne Magic Festival (and the magic scene in Melbourne). Having grown up in Melbourne, Simon now lives and works in Hollywood USA and has appeared (and fooled the judges!) on “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” so I consider any of his magic shows to be unmissable.

I’d seen previous iterations of “Things By Simon” at past magic festivals, however I was keen to see the show again (for many reasons but mainly because I know Simon takes great pride in his art form and changes things around each time I see the show).  There are many aspects to enjoy about Simon’s magic and performance but I also admire the way he treats his audience members. There’s no dragooning or dragging people on stage in this show as Simon practices “consensual magic”. Simon also respects his audience’s needs- for there are people who regard magic as a puzzle that needs to be solved vs people (like me) who just want to revel in the mystery and surprise of the moment. I attended this show with a friend from the first category, and Simon ensured that he satisfied us both which was very entertaining!

In terms of the show itself, it has been refined over the years and I think this year is the best performance of “Things By Simon” that I have seen! If you haven’t seen Simon perform before, you simply must see his card magic and his poker chip routine. For those who have seen Simon Coronel perform, this show is to be seen for the strong momentum of miracles that leads into one of the most impossible finales I’ve ever seen! Minds were being blown all across the room during the show, with the audience basically making incoherent noises – such was the level of the incredible magic happening! The crowd was reveling and scoffing at the unbelievable moments unfolding on stage with increasing speed. I’m unable to recommend this show enough – JUST SEE IT!!!

VERDICT: Guaranteed amazing times to be had, simply cannot recommend this show enough! This show is best suited to adults.

Tickets / information: http://melbournemagicfestival.com/simon-coronel-things-by-simon/

MMF 2019 Review: Lu Chen: Live in Melbourne

Magician Lu Chen has a cult following in his home country of China, and his run of shows at the 2019 Melbourne Magic Festival is his first time performing in Australia. Suffice to say, his arrival has been the buzz of the second week of the festival. Opening night was a packed full house, co-ordinated exceptionally well by festival staff and volunteers given there were three different ticket types including VIPs to be seated in a short time frame.

I’d heard of Lu Chen before but had no idea of his speciality or what to expect from his show. Put simply, the audience was in for a an evening of sleek magic and powerful storytelling with focus on mentalism / mind reading. Many of Lu Chen’s routines required assistance from audience members, which delighted his many fans in the audience who were keen to assist. The inclusion of Australian animals in a guessing game is a nice nod to Australia. A personal highlight is a routine involving wine and some playing cards, which was highly surprising and interactive. Lu Chen’s show included many surprising moments, prompting lots of “oohs and aahs” from the audience. I enjoyed Lu Chen’s references to the psychology of belief during his show, however he kept those references fairly light so the audience didn’t get bogged down into too much detail. Much of his show was aimed at adults, however it is a show that families can enjoy together – and indeed I spied many children in the audience enjoying the show with their families.

The show concluded with a wonderful story time piece that I very much enjoyed. I left the theatre feeling very thoughtful and happy.

VERDICT: sleek magic and powerful storytelling combine to create a memorable magic show that will leave you amazed and surprised.

Note: Lu Chen’s run of shows in Melbourne have all sold out.

 

MMF 2019 Review: MAYHEM

Brendan Dooley is an award winning magician from New Zealand (and undoubtedly one of the funniest) and has jumped across the ditch to entertain us all at the Melbourne Magic Festival. Hosting his show at The MC Showroom – a wonderful local theatre in Prahran – the performance I attended was a full house with no shortage of eager young magic fans and their parents / carers / guardians lining up to enter the theatre.

From the moment the show started I knew it was going to be loads of fun. Brendan Dooley is a magical master of surprises and had his audience excited and laughing early on. Part of the excitement of magic shows for children and families is the chance for children to be audience volunteers. Brendan’s show excels in this area and each time he asked for help, a forest of hands went up in the air with children desperate to help out. Children catch on quickly, and Brendan ensured that each child helper would walk away with a cool present so he never had a shortage of volunteers for his show.

For the adults in the audience, Brendan had plenty of jokes and witty one liners however the audience volunteers really shine in this show (aside from Brendan’s amazing magical skills of course)! I have WAY TOO MANY show highlights to recount here, however Brendan’s card magic, his bag of mystery and mentalism routines were a sheer joy to watch. I laughed all the way through this show and I’m sure you will to. There were even times when adults did more laughing than the children which was refreshing for a children’s magic show. I honestly cannot recommend this show enough – do yourself a favour and bring your family along for a fun show that will no doubt be the highlight of your school holidays!

VERDICT: Expect lots of balloons, plenty of hilarious moments and of course a healthy dose of MAYHEM during this show. Highly recommended.

Tickets: https://www.eventfinda.com.au/2019/mayhem/melbourne/prahran

MMF 2019 Review: Flower Press Part 1 and Part 2

Dane Certificate is well known in the Melbourne Magic community and has had shows at previous Melbourne Magic Festivals, however he hasn’t had a show for a while now so I was very keen to see what he had in store for audiences this year. The best way I can describe Dane is as a ‘surrealist magician’ – sure, magic can be abstract and unbelievable as it is- but in Dane’s hands, magic goes one step further (exactly where I’m not sure but possibly into another dimension). This year, Dane has gone one step further and is presenting a separate ‘part 1’ and ‘part 2’ of his show – parts can be seen separately or one after each other. I chose to see both parts on the one evening, and I would recommend that too. I’m writing about both parts here, however best to keep in mind that there is no story progression / prior knowledge required between the parts at all.

Flower Press – Part 1
Dane has a very peculiar and intensely magical box. Outwardly, it looks like a nice vintage, wooden box that you might find at an antique or furniture store – inside it lies another dimension. Many many objects are pulled from within the box, leaving the audience thinking “How does that even happen?!” Playing cards make an appearance and end up in unlikely places. Much of this performance is done in silence with curious and intriguing music played in the background.

Flower Press – Part 2
This show was a little more interactive in areas, with Dane seemingly within a more complicated show setup. Plain boxes were everywhere, containing all manners of things. I felt that lots of different arts (origami, theatre, mime etc) were used in this show which enhanced the journey for the audience.Like with all of Dane’s shows, it’s hard to put in words exactly what goes on during the show. There is a magic door and technology has a commanding voice which provides some direction in the show. The show ends in the most curious of ways.

On the evening I saw both parts of the show, most of the audience members were doing the same, which made it an intimate experience shared by a number of people. It’s a night of unexpected miracles in an unusual format – come to expect the unexpected as this will be different to anything you’ve ever seen before. Exquisite and poetic and times, and perplexing in other moments, Dane himself is an enigmatic performer. At the conclusion of the shows, the crowd slowly shuffled out (back into the ‘real’ world) recounting their favourite moments of the incredible adventure we shared together.

VERDICT: a show for those come to seek an alternative to the norm, and a deviation from the average and usual. This is not a ‘garden variety’ magic show! Best suited to adults and those seeking a different interpretation of magic and heavy deviation from the norm. If you think you’ve seen it all, then think again.

Tickets:
Flower Press Part 1
https://www.eventfinda.com.au/2019/flower-press-part-1/melbourne/collingwood

Flower Press Part 2
https://www.eventfinda.com.au/2019/flower-press-part-2/melbourne/collingwood

MMF 2019 Review: Alex the Magician in Jaw Dropping 3D

Returning to the Melba Spiegeltent in Collingwood, I was excited to attend Alex the Magician’s show “Alex the Magician in Jaw Dropping 3D”. Alex the Magician regularly performs at the Melbourne Magic Festival, so there’s a chance you have seen him perform before – if you have (or haven’t) you are in for a very fun family magic show.

Combining impressive magic, fun musical tracks and a strong narrative “Alex the Magician in Jaw Dropping 3D” is a highly enjoyable show for families to enjoy together. Alex the Magician is on a quest and the whole show is based around that quest, which makes the show a comfortable one to watch and enjoy.  Along the way, Alex the Magician comes across many magical props and activities to share with the audience which makes the quest exciting. Alex is also sneaky enough to add in some educational elements for children during the quest, which I found clever. Alex the Magician has a strong rapport with his audience members, and throughout the show many children in the audience have the chance to volunteer and help Alex (and even a couple of adults were lucky enough to have that chance as well)! As for what kinds of magic to expect, I won’t mention too much – however my personal highlights were the mind reading segment and some cool predictions.

A polished performer with a modern and relevant show that skips any of the stuffy, antiquated ideas that some people have about magic. Highly recommended.

VERDICT: “Alex the Magician in Jaw Dropping 3D” has a wide appeal, and is a top choice for a magic show that the whole family can enjoy together.

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

Tickets: https://www.eventfinda.com.au/2019/alex-the-magician-in-jaw-dropping-3d/melbourne/collingwood

MMF 2019 Review: The Kid’s Magic Gala

Each year, the Melbourne Magic Festival has a number of Gala shows – these shows are designed to showcase the festival’s performers and can make it easier for audience members to select a future show to see (especially if they like various pieces of magic performed at the show). The Galas are special affairs and The Kid’s Magic Gala is no exception. In fact The Kid’s Magic Gala is even more special as there’s one run of that gala each week of the festival (as the shows change per festival week).

Hosted by magician Lee Cohen – who also performed some magic herself, along with her animal friends- and comprising of a number of very magical children’s show performers (plus a special guest entertainer who is a child), this is the perfect show to see if you’re looking for a wide variety of magical styles and personalities in a relatively short timeframe. Today’s performers included Polly Pop It (review is here in case you missed it), international star Simon Coronel (who involved some adults in his routine) and The Great Armando (with his Italian flair). The special guest for this show was none other than the 2019 winner of the Australian Junior Championship of Stage Magic – Magic Macy!

All of the experienced performers entertained the young audience well, with their acts involving fun magic, comedy and some sweet circus skills too. There was no shortage of audience volunteers with some children just itching to be on stage with each super cool magician. A special mention goes to Magic Macy who not only performed an incredibly enjoyable children’s magic routine but who also impressed all the adults in the room with her mastery of magic (I seriously do not know how she does it – her magic thoroughly impressed me and I’ve seen a crazy number of magic shows). Magic Macy’s performance was highly interactive and she had some very playful and novel ways of selecting audience volunteers for her magical pieces. Much of Magic Macy’s magical pieces were set to fun, modern music which enhanced the audiences’s enjoyment of her performance. She’s definitely one to keep and eye on and I hope she returns to the festival in the future.

Prior to the end of the show, Lee Cohen returned to wow the crowd with a final piece of magic and was on hand at the end of the show to ensure that audience members had a chance to meet her animal friends. With all performers having such strong magical repertoires, you never really know exactly what you’ll see in this show, which makes it exciting.

VERDICT: An ideal show to engage the whole family, and useful to help you perhaps  decide on future shows to see with the family. Expect fun magic, surprises and plenty of laughs along the way. A top pick!

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

MMF 2019 Review: The Mad Hatter’s Magical Tea Party

  In 2019, the Melbourne Magic Festival was lucky to receive a visit from the Mad Hatter (performed by Tim Ellis). It is lucky for this to occur because 1) the Mad Hatter does not perform at every festival and 2) I overheard him mentioning to children before the show started that he “doesn’t even exist on Sundays!” In any case, I was delighted to be there to experience this fun show. The premise of the show is that it is Alice’s birthday and the Mad Hatter is getting ready, preparing for her party (with the help of the audience of course)! Prior to starting the show the Mad Hatter was on stage, chatting to the younger audience members and setting the scene for the show, which was a nice touch.

  Now, you may think that children’s magic shows are a bit boring for adults, but such is the power and magical ability of the Mad Hatter that he ensured that his show was interactive for adults too. Sure, many children had the chance to help out but some lucky adults also had that chance (albeit in different ways). Much of the Mad Hatter’s magic was set to to fun chirpy music, which the audience really enjoyed – some people clapped along with the beat and other audience members made happy sounds, indicating their enjoyment of the music and magic. I don’t wish to spoil too much of what went on during the show, however make sure you look out for a very special pot plant and for when the Mad Hatter had some snack time – those were the moments that made me laugh the hardest!

Along the course of the show, the Mad Hatter’s enthusiasm never waned and he adapted well to children who were enthusiastic vs others who were shy. The Mad Hatter was very well received by his audience, especially his special onstage helpers who screamed and shrieked with glee and delight at the Mad Hatter’s antics. A tip for this show would be to wear your best hats and wonderland fashions to this show! The Mad Hatter loves fashions (especially hats) and even held a short fashion paraded during the show. A special surprise guest also brought delight to many of the audience members.

VERDICT: a fun and memorable show, bound to engage the whole family but especially suited younger children 7 and under. You’d be mad to miss this show!

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

Tickets: https://www.eventfinda.com.au/2019/the-mad-hatters-magical-tea-party/melbourne/collingwood

MMF 2019 Review: Magicsports

Each year the Melbourne Magic Festival rolls into town, it brings with it a special show by the name of “Magicsports”. This show is on for one night only, and many people make it a festival tradition to attend the show each year. “Magicsports” is based on “Theatresports” where games are played which involve elements of improvisation – this is true for Magicsports (with the addition of magic too, of course)! Each year, the teams of magicians ‘playing’ the games changes – this year it was team ‘Banana’ (comprised of Tim Ellis, Josh Staley and Nick Kay) vs team ‘Sellouts’ (Dom Chambers, Simon Coronel and Reuben Moreland). Special guest judges were in attendance to give a score for each team after they had played each game round, with the winning team being the one who scored the most points. The evening was presided by MC Carisa Hendrix – a phenomenally talented magician from Canada – who kept the games / show moving and was on hand to provide ‘translations’ when required.

This was my very first time watching “Magicsports” however I’m told that the games played vary / change per year, with each year featuring some new games in the mix. In terms of the games themselves, they were largely self explanatory by their titles and ranged from ‘trade show’ , ‘the alphabet game’ , ‘3 secret tasks’ and ‘lines from a hat’. For other games, magicians were given ridiculous scenarios (like performing a birthday party on the sun). By far, my favourite games were ‘style rollercoaster’ which involved hilarious interpretive dance sequences, and ‘arms expert’ (where one magician wears a special jacket and the other magician’s arms are placed inside while one performer has to act out a sentence / concept to the other performer). The special jacket is used for a couple of games and I know to expect hilarity when that jacket comes out! A newer game that I enjoyed was called ‘Balloonatics’ where each magician had to create a specified item from one modelling balloon. Sounds simple, but the varying ballooning skill levels across the magicians made this segment very funny. “Magicsports” also includes different surprise guests each year to keep adueinces excited so who knows who you’ll get to meet! This is a magic show that does not take itself too seriously. I found it funnier than expected and was on the verge of wetting myself at the end of the show due to laughter – I don’t know if that is a good sign or not?!

VERDICT: ideal show for those looking for some variety, high levels of comedy and a different take on magic. This show is wildly popular each year for good reason so make sure you book ahead for next year! Some mature themes are included, so this show is best enjoyed by year’s 13+ to adult.

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