MMF 2018 Review: “The Magic, Comedy and Something Ellis Hour” performed by Tim Ellis (plus special guests)

The premise of this show was simple: host and very well know Melbourne magic identity / icon Tim Ellis would perform magic (which was often lighthearted), and each night the show would feature a different special guest magician. The shows were executed well and I enjoyed the format of this show so much, that I ended up seeing two evenings of the show – each time with a different assortment of friends attending with me.

In terms of the magic, Tim Ellis did a fantastic job of mixing up some of his classic magic routines (like a rope routine, his ‘6 card rap’ routine and his famed linking rings routine) with some great pieces of comedy. Often, segments of the show would play out like a game show (with various hilarious themes). Needless to say, members of the audience were regularly called upon to help out on stage (with very comical results!)

In terms of the ‘special guests’, Tim pulled out all the stops to feature magicians with varied strengths / special routines. During one evening, superstar Dom Chambers performed the ‘appearing beers’ routine that he’d previously performed for Penn & Teller on their “Fool Us” tv show. It was truly a fantastic routine, and I was so pleased to see it in real life before my very eyes! During another evening (that took a very ‘adults only’ turn) the audience was thrilled by some comedy magic by none other than the enchanting Lucy Darling. I won’t spoil exactly what happened here, however at one point Lucy instigated a sword duel between two audience members which literally had members of the audience cackling with laughter. After this year’s shows I honestly don’t think there is anything that the enchanting Lucy Darling can’t do.  She’s just incredible.

This is one show I especially enjoyed sharing with my friends, and we all animatedly referenced / recounted our favourite parts of the show to each other long after the shows had passed. It’s a great show to watch to introduce someone to magic, or if you’re keen on comedy as much as you are magic as I felt there was an equal mix of both in each show that I saw. I enjoyed the format of this show, so I hope it returns for another season in the future.

VERDICT: A fun, entertaining and surprising show each time. Great for people newer to magic shows right through to the diehard fans. Definitely worth including in your future show schedule. The show is best suited to adults.


MMF 2018 Review: “The Best One” performed by Nick Kay

Nick Kay is a well known magician in the Melbourne magic scene, however some time has passed between his performances in the Melbourne Magic Festival so I was keen to attend and bring my partner along to see Nick’s show. The show with undoubtedly the easiest title to market, “The Best One” was a compilation of some of the magic that Nick is best at.

Upon entering the theatre, Nick had a loop of amusing memes and internet clips / gifs playing which created a lighthearted mood. It was a nice distraction, and I enjoyed hearing everyone laugh and point out their favourite memes and jokes to each other. In no time, Nick burst onstage in a snappy suit and was already making the audience cheer.

Nick has been performing magic for many years, and it made me so happy to see him perform some magical ‘greatest hits’ – all with that special Nick Kay flair (which is hard to put into words!) Predictions were made, many laughs were had and Nick even performed some cool iPad magic too. A very lighthearted “Russian Roulette” routine brought extra laughs to much of the audience as the dialogue and witty remarks between Nick and his helper from the audience made the routine shine.

Whilst I’m accustomed to Nick performing for adults, there were a number of children and families in the audience, so it was great to see Nick adapt his show for a family audience (as well as watching the enjoyment of the younger audience members and their reactions to some of my favourite magical effects performed by Nick). The younger members of the audience certainly brought some extra laughs with them.

For his finale, Nick performed his amazing cups and balls routine which was flawless. Jaws were dropping by the end of the routine, and cries of “No Way!” and the traditional “Come ON!” were heard before thunderous applause and cheers at the conclusion of the routine. My partner doesn’t see a lot of magic, but I could tell he was impressed by the sheer magic and trickery going on in that particular finale.

VERDICT: “The Best One” is your best bet for an amazing night of entertainment. Nick Kay will blow your mind and will have you talking about his magic long after the show has passed. If you want to see one of magic’s best entertainers, ensure you don’t miss “The Best One”.

*disclaimer: we attended the show as guests of the performer.

MMF 2018 Review: “DeeDee Darling’s Bubble Magic Show” performed by DeeDee Darling

One aspect I enjoy about the Melbourne Magic Festival is the chance to see some kid’s shows / shows for families that I would otherwise miss during my ‘9 to 5 life’. On the final Friday of the festival, I took a whole day off to watch magic but it is no secret that I actually booked a day off work to watch DeeDee Darling’s Bubble Magic Show. DeeDee Darling is another magical character performed by the incredibly talented Carisa Hendrix (of Lucy Darling fame) so I knew this show was going to be loads of fun. Who could resist a show about bubbles?!

I must say that this show was full of surprises from start to finish! DeeDee herself is unmissable, with her big eyes, sweet smile and blue hair. Dressed in a fun outfit with a cool mix of complementing colours, I expected to see DeeDee bound onto the stage with loads of energy – however instead she sat on the steps of the stage, waving and making faces at the children in the audience until everyone had realised she was there.  She knew what the audience was there to see – bubbles and loads of them. Many different varieties of bubbles and bubble formations were shown, along with a couple of cool science props. Throughout the show, DeeDee displayed her mastery of bubbles and we even learned some of the science of bubbles along the way. Some clever pieces of magic carried along the bubble theme was included, which were well received by the crowd.

 Another surprising aspect of this show was the level of audience interaction and participation. Sure being a kid’s show, many children had the chance to go up on stage and assist DeeDee with her wonderful bubble magic however DeeDee also has a (very catchy) theme song that everyone was encouraged to learn the words of and dance along to. I had expected this to be a sedate bubble show that I could quietly watch from my seat at the back of the theatre, but no – all of a sudden I was learning the words to DeeDee’s theme song and freestyle dancing like the rest of the crowd! DeeDee Darling’s catchy theme tune will have you humming long after the show ends.

 The excitement for bubbles and DeeDee herself continued long after the finale of the show. In a world where people (and children) are often hurried out of shows and from one activity to the next, it was nice to see DeeDee’s show take a different pace as she hung around after the show to greet her new fans and the audience could take their time to enjoy a few more moments of bubble magic before they left the theatre.

 VERDICT:  DeeDee is the instigator of the ‘victory lap’ and a sparkling character that you’ll quickly warm to. If DeeDee Darling visits your town, don’t delay to catch your tickets – you won’t want to miss out on all the fun!

MMF 2018 Review: “Up Close & Personal” performed by Carisa Hendrix

This special performance as part of the 2018 Melbourne Magic Festival was hosted at The Laneway Theatre – a hidden magic theatre, away from the main magic hub. I escorted a close friend to the theatre as we had both seen Carisa Hendrix’ character performance as Lucy Darling the week prior, but we were both thoroughly curious and intrigued. We wanted to see more and were willing to keep travelling down that proverbial ‘rabbit hole’! Away from her many characters (Lucy Darling and DeeDee Darling to name a couple) Carisa Hendrix is a fascinating person and performer in her own right – while retaining a refreshing ‘down to earth’ demeanour. Given this was a ‘one night only’ magic show in  an intimate theatre with 32 seats I knew we were all in for a special night of magic and stories.

Opening the magic show with a vocal ’round up’ of all her characters thrilled me, and captured the attention of everyone in the audience. Pleasingly, everyone in the audience had seen at least one of Carisa’s characters, with a good portion of the audience having seen more than one character (Lucy and DeeDee). It was a delight to watch Carisa perform her own style of magic along with some ‘sideshow’ elements, away from the trappings of different voices, elaborate costumes and extensive sets. The stories that Carisa chose alongside her pieces of magic were well selected to evoke strong emotions along with a sprinkling of mischievousness. Some of the stories were tied to Carisa’s many (again, fascinating!) disciplines – like art / design, working as a magician’s assistant, her varied skills and awards / achievements – and her life adventures.

Some people believe that with strong characters, come people who prefer to hide behind those characters. I don’t personally believe this is true in Carisa’s case, however I do think this performance showed a lot of bravery. With many magicians putting on a ‘different face’ to their audience vs their ‘off stage’ face and persona, I felt that with this show we saw the genuine, true Carisa. The show that was delivered to the audience was an exact match to the name of the show, and the audience enjoyed the show so much.

As the show progressed, Carisa’s stories evoked stronger emotions. With a stirring finale, I felt that Carisa had the audience in the palm of her hand – as she usually does – but not by any character other than herself. Concluding with a massive round of applause for a performer who consistently gives each show her all, Carisa stayed back to personally thank each audience member for attending which was a sweet touch. Demonstrating so much with a show like this, I think Carisa will have many fans for life.

MMF 2018 Review: “Ghetto Shaman” performed by Adam Axford

When I heard about the magic show “Ghetto Shaman” and met magician Adam Axford, I have to admit I did not know what to think or what to expect. Visually, Adam looked like he had visited us directly from a music festival however he was the perfect person to take his audience on a journey which focused on the wizardry of words along with some impactful pieces of magic.

Adam Axford himself is an extremely relaxed performer, which I found refreshing. I could feel the intimate audience relax just that little bit more given Adam’s ‘chilled out’ demeanour, and at most points in the show it felt like we were all on a special journey together which was lovely. Regularly dispersed between pieces of magic was Adam’s talent with wordsmithing / poetry. Reading this, it may not be apparent how well matched the word wizardry and magic sorcery was weaved together to make a great show but rest assured that is what occurred. Contemporary poetry may not be everyone’s “cup of tea” however the audience in the room that night were eagerly lapping up everything Adam had to offer (myself included). The magical effects of the evening included card magic and some delightfully mystifying predictions. I felt that each piece of magic had been carefully chosen for the show or to sit between particular stories or poetry choices. Technology was also well utilised to create some magic which I thought was clever (given the focus of modern society on all things technology).

There were a few aspects of this show that I LOVED. I loved how the show pushed the boundaries of what the audiences perceives as “magic” and then references the magic of the universe. I loved that the show was presented in a distinct, refreshing way – even after watching 500 magic shows in total, I’ve never seen a magic show presented quite like this one! I loved how committed Adam was to what he was saying, presenting and the fact that his audience would leave the show having learnt something or be on the way to further learning / reading resources.

Through one impactful effect in particular (which happened to be one of my favourites) Adam managed to create a magical moment, while engaging each member of the audience via a magical “reading list” AND further establishing how deep he runs with his own reading / research. I can scarcely recall a piece of magic that I have seen in recent years that has achieved all of these outcomes in the same space of time.

I left this show feeling at peace and so relaxed. It was such a refreshing show to see in a fast paced life and I wish I could see the show again. It was extra kind of Adam to stay back after the show to discuss further reading and topics of the universe with his new friends.

VERDICT: A “must watch” if you’re looking for a magic show with a difference! Be prepared to be surprised and to expand your mind (reading topics!).

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

MMF 2018 Review: “Matt Tarrant: Honestly Dishonest” performed by Matt Tarrant

Visiting the Melbourne Magic Festival from Adelaide, well known magician Matt Tarrant is an expert marketer and clearly has a strong following of fans. You could barely go anywhere in the festival without seeing Matt’s face on his flyers and posters, and the show I attended was heaving with audience members – every seat in the large theatre was filled.

Everything about this show was cleverly planned – from the music playlist the audience listened to pre show, to the items on stage and the large screen set up with social media handles and contact details. Matt is clearly aware of his modern audience’s tastes and tendencies, yet he opened the show with a brief monologue of how modern audiences annoy / frustrate him – as he “knows” (believes?) they will all rush online after magic shows to research how every trick is done. Given the wide range of (family) audience members this could be true for a portion of the audience, however I’d have preferred if he’d taken the time to conduct a brief “audience poll” – like I have seen magicians do in the past – as the results may surprise him. Personally, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have seen 500 magic shows across my lifetime if I insisted on researching how everything was done, however that’s just me! Making assumptions about how your audience ‘treats’ magic or processes magic shows can lead to a disconnect between performer and audience.

Matt commenced the show with a pleasing piece of card magic along with a nice story of how he became interested in magic as a child. Fun pieces of card magic also reappeared later in the show, much to the delight of the audience who gasped with delight at the final reveal. Mentalism featured heavily in Matt’s show, and I liked how Matt used stories and video clips when explaining what he wanted to achieve with his magic. Audience volunteers were used at regular intervals during Matt’s performance (especially during the mentalism segments) and for the most part, audience members were very keen to help Matt out on stage. These parts of the show were exciting, as a plush toy was enthusiastically tossed around large sections of the audience to select volunteers – which also added to the fun atmosphere of the show.

While the mentalism segments of the show were generally fun, I found some pieces to be less convincing than others. I don’t know if this is due to the setup of the particular piece or the choice of audience volunteer. There was also a ‘Russian Roulette’ magic piece that was largely hyped via video, with a volunteer from the audience who clearly did not wish to be onstage or help out. It was a shame that another (keen!) audience member couldn’t be selected for that piece as it made for tense, uncomfortable viewing. Lucky Matt was able to finish with a sweet, lighthearted piece of magic as a finale. The finale was delightful and I’m glad that a child volunteer was chosen from the audience as the children in Matt’s audience had been dying to help him out all night.

Overall it was an entertaining magic show, and I’m grateful that I had the chance to see it. I felt that the show included a good selection of Matt’s ‘favourite’ effects, however the show seemed restricted to cards and mentalism (which I did not expect). It would be good to see more pieces of magic from Matt that aren’t restricted to those two categories.

VERDICT: An entertaining show, and I guess a ‘safe bet’ if you don’t see a lot of magic (but don’t mind helping on stage). I felt this show was aimed more at adults rather than children (as mentalism can bore children, especially so when only adult helpers are used). Be aware that Matt uses a lot of audience volunteers so if you’re not comfortable with that, then this isn’t the show for you.

*disclaimer: I attended the show as a guest.


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.