CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC explain all!
When THE CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC land at the Golden Gate beginning November 27th, expect incredible illusions featuring supercars, an impossible escape from Houdini’s water torture cell, a mind-blowing prediction that has to be seen to be believed, levitation high above the stage and a finale beyond explanation.
BroadwaySF sat down with Richard Young (of the duo Young and Strange), escapologist Fernando Velasco and the show’s producer Alex Jarrett to find out more about how they make magic happen.
CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC, November 27-December 1. Click to purchase tickets.
What can people expect to see at CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC?
Alex: The show is full of spectacle and is fueled by five of the best illusionists in the world. Each of them brings a unique style of magic and when you add it all up, it sounds like a cliché but there really is something for everyone.
Richard: Also, the show is never the same twice in a row. Our mind reader picks up thoughts that are always different. We bring at lot of people on stage during the show – we throw out frisbees to keep it random – so they bring an unpredictable element to each performance.
Fernando: Plus, we all like each other so much. You can feel the camaraderie on stage and know that we’re here to entertain you and we’re going to exhaust ourselves making sure you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
Do you introduce new tricks into the show and what’s the process?
Alex: We’re touring most of the time so we practice wherever – the hotel, on the tour bus, on a flight… Someone will throw out an idea for a new trick. We talk through how it would work and how it could be achieved. We build whatever we, sometimes that involves bringing in a specialist illusion designer, other times it’s a trip to Home Depot, and then we try it out, further develop it and then put into the show. It means we’re always working, always improving the show. And for the audience, it means we’re always at the top of our game, seeking out new ways to entertain them.
What do you prefer, performing live or on TV?
Richard: We’ve performed in every medium but we love performing live. On TV, there’s always the thought in the viewer’s mind about what they couldn’t see, or how a camera angle influenced the illusion. But live, there’s only the illusion. No cameras in the way. Only you, the audience and the performers. When Fernando is hanging upside down by a rope underneath the Jaws of Death and the rope is on fire, the audience feels that heat. They know it’s real and it makes his escape even more exciting and daring.
How does one become a professional magician?
Richard: Much like a musician, you learn the notes first. Then you learn other people’s music and eventually, you create your own. Yes, you start with card tricks, coin tricks, things like that, but then you learn about all the various skills – sleight of hand, mind-reading, escaping – and you start to specialize. That’s when your imagination comes in. You start realizing that the “notes” you’ve learned can be applied to anything you can come up with.
Fernando: I started doing simple illusions but then I had an opportunity to try an escape and I knew that was where I was meant to be. The stakes are high. The adrenaline is rushing. It’s dangerous. It’s terrifying. It’s crazy. It’s fun. There are no tricks. What you see me doing is what I’m doing – whether it’s Houdini’s water-torture cell, or escaping from a straightjacket hanging from the stage rigging.
Have you had glitches?
Fernando – There can’t be a glitch in escapology, I either make it out alive, or I don’t…
Richard – We were at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We did this trick in which we borrowed a watch and made it reappear in a locked box in front of us, completely visible from the audience. It came time to unlock the box and show everyone the watch but there was one problem, we’d left the key to the box back in our hotel. We knew how to get the watch in the box but didn’t know how to reverse. The poor man had to wait until the show was over so we could return his watch.