I recently did a special event show at a local Coquitlam/Vancouver Canada-area French community center; although I'm English, I was raised in Montreal, so technically I'm what we call out there an Anglophone (English-speaking) and a Francophone. (French-speaking) I feel really fortunate to have 3 languages, Yiddish being the third one. I use these relatively smaller special events (average 30 kids per show) as a live "dress-rehearsal" if you will, for my larger shows, for example I'm having a show this month-end and next month-end where there will easily be at least 200 people in attendance each show, along with press coverage, mayor attending, etc. I love all sizes of show, whether there are 10 kids, or 10,000. (Back when I moved to Winnipeg from Toronto in the early '80's, I did many shows there where often times there were at least that many folks in the audience!) It still puzzles me 22 years after relocating to Vancouver (a city of more than 2,000,000 people) from Winnipeg (a Prairie city of 700,000 people) why there is so little attendance to arts and cultures events; people would rather climb mountains and hike which is understandable, based on the great amount of nature out here, but how does one explain my Montreal, an equally beautiful city with just as much nature and mountains and a populace of well over 2,000,000-3,000,000 where the attendance to arts and cultures events is phenomenal! Oh, well...different kinds of people, I guess. Nonetheless, I decided to shake things up this particular show, as many of the kids have seen my shows over and over again, even with my inserting tricks from my "B" or "C" shows into the main one. For the non-performers out there, most magicians have several cases of shows; their main show which they "troop" with, (tour with) and those secondary and third cases of tricks/shows just in case they have more than one show at a venue in a day, where potentially it may be the same people showing up to watch...it's always nice to "shake things up", or insert a batch of other tricks or combinations there of. Remember that I've been doing magic professionally since 1981...there is absolutely no venue, or special kind of event that I haven't performed in; from close-up magic in restaurants, corporate events and bars, to malls, fairs, auditoriums, and even glamorous fashion-shows! Then there was my TV-show of 9 years, which forced me to re-invent a lot of tricks especially for that! Thank God I owned a magic-shop and I was able to buy a lot of tricks wholesale; magic is one of the most expensive hobbies in the world! Then there were the scores of doves and rabbits I had as pets and featured characters in my show, and the props necessary to produce and vanish the creatures. So I've owned millions of dollars of magic equipment including huge stage illusions, (at almost 60 years of age, I've long gotten rid of those larger props) which I've used over and over again. I even moved to Vancouver with the show I toured with and kept as my stand-by for 7 years before that. Prior to that I had a whole other show that I trooped with for another 8 years; so I knew the ins and outs of all of those tricks, the audience's reactions, the jokes and bits of business that either I or children had improvised which became permanent lines in my show's scripts...seeming to be improvised to the audience but in reality having been said hundreds of times; I know the timing of every word, every nuance, so that the "sneaky stuff" (misdirection and sleight-of-hand) would not be noticed, all the while trying to be entertaining and affable! This time however, I wanted to completely challenge myself and do a brand-new, untested (at least not by myself) show. The kids in most audiences already seem to love me, I guess they sense that I love them, so that's half the battle: there's a saying in magic, that if the audience likes you, they'll also like your tricks, and I have found this to be 100% true. So, with only a month's rehearsal, for the first time since 1981, I did a completely new show!
The New Show
I'll spare you what my most recent "touring" show was like, but suffice it to say that I had already worked in two of Jay Sankey's tricks, including his card-out-of-balloon, and "Sparkle", a card trick involving a party sparkler, where the magician succeeds in spearing a selected card with a lit sparkler. Yes, the audiences LOVED those illusions, but they also loved the "B" tricks from my old shows like "ropes through my body", which plays big and folds small into my doctor's bag; and then there's the oversized beautiful sponge rabbits that multiply in a spectator's hands! It pained me to eliminate these two tricks! Honestly, the opening effect is also crucial, and I literally "have a million of 'em", but the one that works 100% of the time with great audience reaction is "rope to silk", so I decided that that would be the only effect from my old show that I would include. It got the strong reaction that I am used to! The new Sankey effects included a magic plastic Coke loyalty card that transforms, a chopstick-impaled-through-a-coin, (with a hypno-swirl sticker placed on both sides) the very strong card-from-balloon, and "Sparkle" as the finale. Jay recently released a fantastic DVD about routines involving a finger-ring mysteriously appearing on and off a piece of black chord, and even includes the ring and beautiful rope! Since I had been performing a very similar illusion since 1993, I decided to integrate several of the moves from Jay's routines, (which included a nice rope-routine) and despite the difficulty of the newly-learned routine, received one of the best reactions that I've ever received from one trick! I LOVE this trick/routine which is from Jay's "Devil's Tail" DVD. I resurrected two more illusions that I've not performed since 1994, a very standard kids' show trick which is funny but baffling involving two large bamboo sticks and their "tissle and tassle", and another illusion where I freely count 6 jumbo cards, (and ONLY 6 cards!) removing three of them, but still having six cards over and over again! It usually evokes laughter and amazement, but this time (20 years later) it only seemed to encourage mild curiosity; this is one I'll do one more time in my next show to see if I need to change my routine (which I've done over hundreds of shows!!) or if that was just a freak reaction. Nerves? No way! Maybe a little anxiety, but because I rehearsed the individual tricks over and over for a month and then strung them together in a logical order, I felt really liberated during the performance and successfully (I'm told) ad-libbed a lot of new lines that will go into my future shows. Don't be afraid to "shake things up"...it just might be what your show needs!
Learn more about Magic Mike Likey here: http://magicmikelikeymagician.weebly.com
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