All magic shows are pretty much the same; or so I thought. Last night I was kept on the edge of my seat by brilliant lighting effects, stadium rocking music, comedy, thrilling acts and even a little Strange. Sam Strange that is.
Right from the start Fernando Velasco – Visual Magic Expert, had us asking, “how did he do that?” with his ability to make doves appear and disappear in thin air. Believe you me, this act is not for the birds, or the faint of heart for that matter. Velasco continued to step up his game as the night went on. Each trick was bolder and more dangerious than the last. His finale of Houdini’s straight jacket escape, with an added twist of the “Jaws of Death” will take your breath away. Wow!
If there was ever a way to make a living being a FaceBook stalker or internet troll, Alex McAleer – Master Mind Reader, could do it. He combines contemporary mind reading with sharp wit, sharper suits, and a flair for showmanship. McAleer picks random people from the audience by tossing out stuffed monkey. He then brings them to the stage and can tell you their occupation, hobby, age and even their favorite ice cream. The next thing you know you will be giving him a standing ovation while being a little creeped out as to how he knows these things. According to the press release, “He is also a successful writer in the magic world having written several books on his own techniques and lectured them to psychology students, mentalists, and magicians at the prestigious Magic Circle.”
Kayla Drescher – Queen Of Close-Up, will have you questioning your own sanity. Her slight of hand, right under you nose, or the camera, is guaranteed to keep you scratching your head. To perform magic on a stage thirty feet from an audience is one thing, but to go into the audience and perform face to face take a true prestidiginator. Kayla won won David Copperfield’s “Search for the Next Great Magician.” She was not flashy, but one of my favorite acts of the night.
Definitely a crowd favorite, the headliners Young & Strange – Grand Illusionists, are the icing on the cake. These guys have a quality that I think every actor, or person for that matter, should possess; the ability to laugh at yourself. They met as childhood friends when they were eight years old. Their common love of magic has fuled their friendship. They are the epitomy of, “dream big and big things will happen.” Well not exactly what they had in mind, but thigs worked out. Their dream of headlining a Las Vegas-style magic show was quickly hit with the realization that these things cost major money. Not to be deterred, they spent their teenage years making their own illusions with cardboard and tape.
To be honest, Kris Angel, Penn and Teller, and Lance Burton they are not. But that’s part of what makes them so great. They are charming, approachable, every day people. They don’t have big elaborate sets or props. They are the common man’s magician and their magic is phenomenal. Check out their online video “Young & Strange take Las Vegas to Swindon”. They literally roll their act into a shopping mall. My favorite is their video bombing of a Sky News reporter on the Palace of Westminster lawn. Perhaps the one thing that sums them up the best, and the overall theme for the night is their grand finale. It’s not so much what they did (I don’t want to spoil it for you), but what they said, “Magic isn’t about fooling an audience or getting over on someone. It’s about having fun and making you feel like a kid again.” Think of that as you watch their final illusion and you will feel something that you may not have felt in a very long time. I had the privilege of attending the show with my youngest son, so I didn’t have far to reach for a hug.
Champions of Magic plays Thursday February 15 through Sunday February 18, 2018 at The Hippodrome Theatre in the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center— 12 N. Eutaw Street in the Bromo Seltzer Arts District of Baltimore, MD. For tickets call the box office at (410) 752-7444 or purchase them purchase tickets online.
Click here to read the TheatreBloom interview with magician Sam Strange.