Every time I watch Derren Brown’s act, all I can think is that it must be overwhelming and probably terrifying to be the unwitting participant in his mind games. (The Push? Hell to the no.) Turns out, my impression isn’t that far off.
Richard Critchlow was the subject of a wildly elaborate stunt by the envelope-pushing mentalist for his Trick or Treat television show back in 2007. He was put into a trance in a phone booth in the UK, but when Critchlow came to, he stumbled out of the booth and onto the streets of Morocco. Now, more than a decade later, Critchlow has penned an essay about the experience for The Huffington Post.
His account feels partly like an episode of Twin Peaks with a healthy dash of Punked. “All I remember is 1,000 things going through my head and that I was scared,” Critchlow said of his realization that he had been transported thousands of miles away. No crap. This is one you really have to read for yourself. Tl;dr – anything could happen if you sign on to work with Brown. Anything.
Mat Franco made the leap to a household name with his win on America’s Got Talent, the first and only magician to secure the ultimate title. But with all that he now juggles in touring and starring in a regular Vegas show, it’s easy to forget that Franco is just 30 years old. Even though he’s representative of what he calls a “millennial magician,” Franco certainly been able to attract the friendship and mentorship of the older generations.
He told the Chicago Tribune that one of his influences is magic legend Johnny Thompson. “Johnny’s a good friend of mine,” Franco said. “He helped put together my Las Vegas show.” The two regularly get together to “jam on different magic ideas.”
His show winds up being a blend of classic and the modern tastes, presenting vintage close-up sleights with a decidedly contemporary bent. Franco relies on increasingly common props like smartphones and also unique ones like ramen noodles.
“We don’t use sort of pyrotechnics and dancers and things to distract from the magic,” he said. “There are no TV props, no boxes, no campy dance moves. It’s kind of all about the magic and all about the audience.”
If you’re in the market for some magic, now’s a good time to make your way over to Pop Haydn’s online store. The renowned magician is offering 20% off any orders of more than $20 for the remainder of May. Just apply the coupon code “Madness” at checkout.
His store includes a whole array of options for magical education. There are DVDs of classic routines like the color-changing handkerchief and shell games, or go literary with a download of his writings on subjects such as acting in magic and creating routines.
For those of you attending the annual convention of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in July, you’ll have the chance to see Pop Haydn perform. He’s on the Legends of Comedy lineup alongside Michael Finney, Jeff Hobson, Nick Lewin, and Larry Wilson.
Juliet Arndt is the epitome of an international performer. Audiences from Russia to Jakarta have seen her unique approach to mentalism. These days, she’s based in Dubai, where she aspires to become the David Copperfield of the Middle East.
She spoke with Gulf News about her act. Arndt said many of the other acts in her field play it for laughs. “Usually it’s comedy hypnosis, and people are embarrassed in the show,” she explained. “So my show is completely the opposite. I use a lot of storytelling and I combine hypnosis with magic, with illusions.”
Arndt is a big believer in the power of the human mind, and that’s true in her off-stage career too. When she’s not performing mentalism, she works in hypnotherapy and cognitive coaching. Her interest in the medical side of hypnosis came from her grandmother, a healer who passed on her knowledge to Arndt. “[People] are listening to the hypnotist and going into a trance to establish new patterns. Because everything that we think is a pattern — for instance how we deal with stress — and I’m helping people develop a more resilient personality.”
If you’re in Dubai and want to catch her act, Arndt is performing at The Junction on May 11 at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm.
Making magic for kids is one of the greatest challenges for a performer, and that’s just as true when the performers are the same age as their audience. Adam Rodness and Stu Stone of 5’7 Films is the duo behind The Thrillusionists, a video series with three young magicians on CBC Kids. The pair spoke to Kidscreen about the process of creating the program.
“The kids space seemed like a natural place to explore because children love magic and there wasn’t much for this [demographic] other than shows about learning magic,” said Stone.
The Thrillusionists isn’t Stone’s first rodeo: he was also a producer for the Criss Angel series BeLIEve on Spike TV. He brought in Jesse Feinberg from that gig to be a consultant and executive producer for kids’ show.
“On BeLIEve, I was thrown into the deep end as far as magic goes. It was a surreal experience, not only in terms of the actual magic that Criss performs, but also in how the show was shot,” Stone said. “Filming a magic show is not like shooting a traditional reality show or scripted TV show where you go in, get the shot and move on. You have to deal with a lot of variables because you have to get the trick right, you have to fool someone in person and then also try to fool the audience at home. By the time the show wrapped, I felt like I gained a new skill set and wondered what else I could do.”
Read the full interview, including how they found the three cast members and prepped rehearsals, here on Kidscreen.
You can find magicians in all walks of life. Many people simply moonlight in prestidigitation while they work day jobs. A lucky few manage to turn magic into a standalone career. Harry L. Collins managed to do both.
Collins was born in Glasgow, Kentucky in 1920. He learned magic as a young man, and applied those skills overseas as part of the Special Services during World War II. After the war ended, Collins took a job as a salesman at Frito-Lay during the daytime and performed with the stage name Mr. Magic at night. But even as a magician, he still was a devoted fan of his employer. He’d even use “Frito-Lay” as the magic word in his tricks.
In 1970, he was able to combine his two lives. Collins was appointed the official corporate magician for the food company. He took his magic act on the road, performing on behalf of Frito-Lay and sharing his twin loves for chips and tricks. Atlas Obscura has more of Collins’ story, including some photos of his memorial in Louisville.
His tale is an especially great one for those of us with multiple passions. You just never know when you’ll have a chance to follow both of your dreams.
Many creative thinkers believe that giving yourself restrictions can spark some of your best ideas. Jim McDonald has many difficult limitations placed on his magic act. He hosts a family show. His venue is only lit by candles. He blends history lessons in with his tricks. And he does it all in the character of a man from the late 1700s.
The end result sounds pretty stellar.
McDonald hosts the Magic Parlor at the historic courthouse in Colonial Williamsburg. Shows take place at 7:00 pm and 8:30 pm on Wednesday evenings through the mid-summer, and it is likely that the Magic Parlor will become a standard fixture in the area’s programming.
His act isn’t just a history lecture interspersed with magic tricks. It’s a more immersive storytelling experience that relies on lots of interaction with the youngest audience members.
“It involves people mentally and physically, but it’s a much easier show when I have children here and I can get them to play,” McDonald told the Daily Press. “If I can get them involved, then almost everybody will be in the mood to play, and it turns into something that could be very moving and enjoyable to everyone.”
Because of his audience and persona, McDonald doesn’t do either large technical pieces or intimate, close-up sleights. Every trick is meant to engage the entire audience, and ideally to spark reactions and comments from the children.
“The trick itself is important — but not as important as the story developed around it,” McDonald said. “If you get the kids to buy into the story, you never know what they are going to do with it. With this show, we know all the parts — the beginning, the middle, the end — and you just let them take it where it’s going to go.”
Read the Daily Press’ full interview with McDonald here.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Mike Super!
The illusionist has delighted audiences with his appearances on Penn & Teller Fool Us, America’s Got Talent, and Phenomenon. If you’re a magic fan in Idaho, you might just be able to see for yourself how his magic translates from the screen to the stage.
Super is performing at Brigham Young University-Idaho on Friday, May 18. He’ll be doing shows at 6:00 pm and 8:30 pm at the school’s Kirkham Auditorium. Students can snag tickets for just $6, and general public tickets are still a steal at $12.
For a taste of Super’s style, here’s a supercut of his appearances on the NBC show Phenomenon, where fans voted him as America’s favorite mystifier.
Houston locals could soon be getting a new spot to kick back for a magic show and a tasty beverage. Magic Island is actually a two-story land-locked entertainment complex that hosted magic shows, dancing, dining, and drinking in its heyday back, beginning as a private club in 1983 and eventually opening to the public in 1989. Based on photos from the Houston Chronicle, the building’s original decor might best be described as faux-Egyptian kitsch.
But Magic Island closed a decade ago, and neither time nor the local residents have been particularly kind to the space. It’s now covered in graffiti, has frequently been a home to the homeless, and was stripped of all electrical work by scavengers.
Now, the building’s new owner is working to transform Magic Island back into the entertainment venue it once was. Local neurologist Mohammad Athari is the new owner, and he’s working with Manny Fahid, a prior employee of the club, on the restoration. Their goal is to reopen by the end of this year.
Scott Wells, who hosts The Magic Word podcast, also talked to local news channel KHOU 11 about the effort to restore Magic Island. According to the magician, re-opening the club will take “tender loving care and a whole lot of money.” He even performs a quick bill-changing trick to emphasize the expense of the endeavor. Nice work, Scott.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has only been stateside for two weeks, but it’s fair to say the play has left quite a mark on America’s theater scene. Not only have legions of critics and fans fallen under its spell, but it is racking up favor from the awards circuit too.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been nominated for ten Tony Awards. It will vie for the coveted Best Play prize, along with Best Leading Actor, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design, Best Direction, and Best Choreography. Kudos to the whole cast and crew!
The Tony Awards are scheduled for Sunday, June 10. The show will be broadcast at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS. With that many nominations, odds are good it will be a magical night for somebody in the Potterverse.