#FIRSTLOOK: “CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC” TORONTO
By George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC opens with a tune by Led Zeppelin blasting as Young & Strange (two British illusionists) enter the stage with a shtick and trick routine that includes corny jokes and perhaps one of them being impaled to death while inside a huge cardboard box that the other shoves large wooden stakes through. Spoiler alert…he comes out of the box unscathed!
Thus begins one of the more entertaining live productions playing exclusively in Toronto at the Bluma Appel Theatre to January 6, 2019. A huge hit in the U.K., CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC feature five Magicians/Illusionists, each with their own strengths.
Kayla Drescher is the master of deft hand illusions with a deck of cards she purchased at Dollarama and a willing audience participant. Fernando Velasco, from Mexico and wearing a pair of pants that Liberace would kill for, is obviously influenced by Houdini and makes his two quite serious turns on stage electrifying with his interpretation of two classic routines. Young & Strange (who have a Laurel and Hardy-meets-Penn and Teller vibe about them) excel at the Vegas-like illusions. These are the guys that wow the most, by either sawing someone in half, or making them disappear. They close the show with a series of transfixing events, which includes a funny homage to Siegfried & Roy, that had the audience cheering for more. The highlight of the show for me was Alex McAleer. This very funny mentalist had me laughing continuously, all the while performing entertaining mind-bending routines.
There was a variety show-type feel to the extravaganza that works quite well. The children in attendance, some of who are made to be part of the show, will vastly enjoy the magic and illusions and the adults, cynics or not, will be wowed.
CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC is a fantastic and entertaining excursion out for the entire family this Holiday season.