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.

A dry grad, for those of you who live outside the comfy bosom of the United States, is a “an event which provides students with a safe, drug and alcohol-free environment to celebrate their graduation.” A school disco, in other words.

Westview Secondary School in Maple Ridge will be having quite an elaborate school disco on account of an upcoming fundraising performance by two-time world champion of magic Shawn Farquhar, whose daughter just so happens to be in the graduating year. Farquhar will be performing Secrets The Magic Show at the school, with all the proceeds going towards the upcoming dry grad. 

While Farquhar is used to performing for crowds in the thousands, the audience for this show will be a bit more select, with just 210 tickets available, a hundred of which have already been sold. 

Like the party its funding, Farquhar’s show will be a family-friendly event with lots of audience participation. 

“A lot of really cool slight of hand,” he told the local press. “Lots of comedy involved. Lots of audience participation. I will make a handkerchief come to life and dance and I’ll float things in the air. It will be a memory for everybody.”

“Parents can bring younger kids so they can demystify the high school in advance,” he added.

Secrets The Magic Show starts at 7:00pm on April 21st at Westview Secondary, 20905 Wicklund Ave. in Maple Ridge, BC. Tickets cost 20 Canuck bucks.