Posts Tagged ‘magic


The Illusionists: Direct From Broadway


The Illusionists: Direct From Broadway

Simon Painter, Tim Lawson, Andrew Spencer & Alexandra Hirst

QPAC Concert Hall

January 11 – 19 2019


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



Why do people continue to come in droves to experience The Illusionists? It’s a mystery. The magic of the theatre…and savvy marketing.


Paul Dabeck, enigmatic and entertaining host and emcee of the latest incarnation of The Illusionists, direct from Broadway, is the highlight of the show, with magic tricks to amaze and lively, witty banter to amuse. I adore him. A natural entertainer of the highest calibre, Dabeck is the most down to earth of the group, with the genuine charm and good humour lacked by the others. His style is sophisticated and super relaxed, with just the right amount of spice; he’s a crowd favourite and the highlight of opening night in Brisbane. 



Every other act comes with a super-size-me serving of spray-on cheddar jack cheese, nope, not even pepper jack, just that old-school schmaltzy, sickening, pausing-for-effect, praise-me style that we thought had died out just as the rest of the circus and burlesque worlds continued to evolve, keeping only the very best aspects of vaudeville and real showmanship, as demonstrated by Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman, and Todd McKenney – I anticipate – in Barnum.


Not everyone is immune and there are just a few who leap to their feet at the conclusion of the show, having clapped and cheered at each trick much louder than anyone else – in the Concert Hall it’s more obvious than it is anywhere else – and perhaps they’re all the mates of our Aussie escapologist poster boy, Sam Powers…or perhaps they really love this strangely halting show. The American cheese bookending each act has a different impact upon most though, slowing the pace and flow of the show, and distancing us from the entertainers and their art, putting it all on a very high pedestal instead of inviting us in, seducing us, bringing us anywhere near any sort of mystery surrounding each performance, except that we’re actually so physically close to the action to notice the glitches from the outset. I seem to recall this being a disappointment last time (2015) and like the anti-climax that comes with yet another close-up magic card trick rather than a magical spectacular full company finale, I wonder why there hasn’t been since then, an assistant director or one of the producers or publicists, making the same observations aloud. These clumsy errors are quick to happen and just as quickly glossed over, swept into the shadows in an instant – if you blink you miss them – but if you catch them, it’s hard to un-see such imperfections. As is the case with any disappointment in life, our high expectations are mostly to blame, and as much as we go in ready for anything, it’s a general expectation that anything of this calibre will be fairly flawless. 



Mark Kalin (The Showman) and Jinger Leigh (The Conjuress) perform an old ring trick, using jewellery taken from the hands of audience members, and it appears to be the real deal, but like disappearing and reappearing people, we don’t look too closely at the detail. Eliciting gasps and warm applause from the audience, these illusions are a couple of the best. Leigh’s manipulation of a glowing sphere is less convincing, especially when we see it disappear beneath a black cloth, despite her showgirl eyes and smile alluding to the magical powers of the cloth she triumphantly wields in the foreground.  


The frenetic energy of Chris Cox (The Mentalist) does not endear him to everyone, but apparently the success of his act is largely due to his “side-splitting, confident, silly, charismatic and mischievous sense of magic”. It’s all very well to admit to reading behaviour not minds as the basis for a potentially entertaining and highly amusing act, but make it entertaining. And amusing. And foolproof. This act was foiled on opening night by the father who had to remind his son exactly what costume Cox had told them before the show, was what he’d be wearing beneath his suit. 


Florian Sainvet (The Manipulator) is too ridiculously good looking to be human, and this is the most intriguing part of his act. Both he and Leonardo Bruno (The Alchemist) are less than convincing. This is a shame, both for the audience and the award-winning Berlin male model types. We won’t mention the pretty female assistants at all because included in the company, are the pretty male assistants also. More clothing. Less lighting. Fewer sexy moves. Whatever. 



Luckily for our Sam Powers (The Enigma), his life or death world-first suspended escape act is a success. He even has time, twice, to pause and pose, hanging upside down by his boot straps during the 2-minute race to remove himself from a straitjacket, and then from the hooks that hold him upside down, before a burning bear trap collapses on where he would otherwise have fallen to his death. THE NEW ELEMENT BEING A BURNING BEAR TRAP. There is at least some comedy in the ridiculous.



In 2015 we saw The Daredevil (Jonathan Goodwin) hoisted upside down and left to hang by his boots too, while a fuse was lit and flames crept towards his trousers, leaving him just sixty seconds in which to get free and put out that fire. Has Powers even raised the stakes? Again, chiselled good looks saves this entertainer from too much criticism. But as part of his persona, he’s almost too relaxed, nonchalant, so that we don’t actually care very much about him while he’s dangling from a rope, apparently struggling…we’re actually confident that he’ll be fine. All in all the scene lacks tension. This is typical of each act, with a grandiose buildup doing more harm than good, and causing those around me to snicker at times, and others to yawn. You won’t see that in the pull quotes. BUT YES ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT A DOUBT SOME PEOPLE LOVE IT. And it comes as no surprise because our reality television shows are still rating highly too.


Let’s just note that the particular performance style perhaps preferred by Australian audiences within the magical realm now, or always, is less about the grandiose and more abut the genuine entertainment value. This may be about to change with all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas (we hope not), or it may depend on which aspect of their show we’re referring to…anyway, the Americans will get a run for their play money when Brisbane’s infamous duo The Naked Magicians take up a strictly limited MGM Grand run, opening February 13 at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club. Now THAT’S entertainment!


A big, safe, shiny, eternally touring show, The Illusionists: Direct From Broadway likely won’t exceed expectations, but it’s a fun night out for the family and friends – let’s say three stars – and the shared experience will probably provide some entertaining fodder for a few days of dinner table conversation. It might even inspire a new generation of entertainers. But if you’re the type who won’t have the television on during dinner, and can’t name even one of our latest “celebrities” to find themselves stuck somewhere in Africa, you’ll agree that this impressive franchise also continues to glitter, but it isn’t gold. 


The Naked Magicians – again!


The Naked Magicians

Samuel Klingner Entertainment

Twelfth Night Theatre

March 5 – 13 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 




On Thursday night a full (super) magical moon seemed the appropriate big picture setting for the return of The Naked Magicians. Chris Wayne and Mike Tyler have been touring the countryside since their debut (and return season) at Brisbane Powerhouse last year, attracting all sorts of capacity audiences. This “tweaked” incarnation of the show though, reflects a very particular brand of entertainment; one to which I hadn’t expected these guys to stoop, but one which seemed ENTIRELY appropriate at this rather dilapidated venue. If you’ve seen these guys before, it’s a slightly different show. (If you’ve seen these guys before, you’ll know to DRINK FIRST!). If the bar had stayed open after the show and the boys had come straight away to meet their adoring fans, and not just those with VIP tix (as much as I appreciate the value of the gimmick) they might have continued last Thursday night to build their apparently vast and very diverse fan base. But I overheard some unhappy punters leaving right away, disgruntled due to the fact that there was no opportunity to buy drinks or meet the boys.


I understand the bar at Twelfth Night Theatre is run by vollies…as is the bar at many smaller independent venues, and they don’t do themselves any favours by electing to close early…or to demand cash only.


It’s so important that we leave a venue wanting to come back to it!


It’s a gross disservice to the artists and producers to cut short such an exciting theatrical event, killing the atmosphere and heading home before the night is over! For some, this was their one-night-out for the week and like the worst one night stand, it ended prematurely. In stark contrast – and I do hope some of you make the trip up our way to see that I’m right, for Cruise Control in April, and for various events during Noosa Long Weekend Festival – the vibrant atmosphere at Noosa Arts Theatre is always so social it’s difficult to say no to the drinks and activity after a show! Just you TRY to go straight home! It’s one of the main reasons Sam and I love working there. It’s currently being renovated again to better suit the needs of its ever-growing theatrical family and subscriber base. The volunteers who take the tickets and work the bar there have such energy and enthusiasm, and there is ALWAYS opportunity to top up our glasses and continue our conversations after the show. In fact, the vibe at Noosa Arts Theatre is a little like La Boite wants to fashion back. JUST SAYIN’. ANYWAY.


The Naked Magicians. At Twelfth Night Theatre. (There’s no other theatre like it!). Here it is in a nutshell.


IT’S STILL FUNNY! AND THE MAGIC IS STILL GREAT! The tricks are still really good, and if you know how they’re done DON’T TELL ME. I enjoyed the show again, but there were times when I wish I’d had more to drink. Of course, this might say more about the last 2 weeks of my life than it does about the show…


This time the humour is base and it’s just not my bag, baby. This sort of humour appeals to the lowest common denominator and along with all the porn that’s still foolishly made by men but not made for women, you’re either gonna’ laugh uproariously in genuine delight, or cringe. Overall, the show lacks the sharp wit and boyish charm of the original season, and perhaps some of its naivety. I can’t quite put my finger on it (“Don’t put your finger there!“), but it’s almost as if advice from their audiences has been taken too literally (“Put your finger THERE!“). THERE IS CERTAINLY MORE NAKEDNESS. But is it too much? I guess it depends on which BITS you consider to be the most entertaining.


It’s as if all the cute “Hey girl…” moments have been taken out of the mix and we’re left with the end of the night last ditch drunken efforts to impress. Still impressive is the magic itself, the management of the audience participation (always difficult!), and the easy, bold banter between the boys and the unsuspecting audience members who find themselves on stage and a part of the show.






I don’t believe the sudden success of The Naked Magicians was ever wholly attributed to their nakedness, remember; they got a lot less naked the first time ’round! Originally the show was punctuated by a whole lot more old world gentlemanly (magicians’) charm, and contemporary, cheeky “sleeves up, pants down” confidence. We still get this in abundance from Chris, and from Mike not so much. Did somebody tell him two nice guys is one nice guy too many?! WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? I walked away wondering why must we perpetuate the myth that locker room antics are an appealing form of entertainment? But then I guess there are those who love their nipple tassel twirling too…






This show is actually as much about audience manipulation as it is about magic and nakedness.


It’s fun, it’s crazy, it’s funny, it’s still a bit sexy, and in the end, it really is a great, stereotypical girls’ night out, if you like that sorta thing. I’m really a big fan of these guys, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a little disillusioned on this occasion. Others appear to LOVE the slightly crass, outrageous ending that just didn’t do it for me. But that’s just me. I’m keen to see what comes at the end of THIS flashy tour. I’d LOVE to see these guys make it big overseas. I know they’ll be a hit in New Zealand (May 12 – 16 2015)! And maybe a Las Vegas residency is next! But before I’m completely convinced, it might take another pair of eyes yet, to cast a glance over their bits and make ‘em all fit a little more, er, neatly…


The Naked Magicians are so excited to be coming to a theatre near you. Go check out these guys for yourself with a great big group of gorgeous friends and have some fun! I hope the venue and the boys look after you!



The Illusionists 1903: the golden age of magic


The Illusionists 1903: The Golden Age of Magic
QPAC and Simon Painter & Tim Lawson
QPAC Concert Hall
January 4 – 11 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




Featuring brand-new, world class Illusionists handpicked from across the globe, The Illusionists 1903 promises to transport the audience back to the golden age of magic, a time when conjurers were the true rock stars of the day. Showcasing the origins of some of the greatest and most dangerous illusions ever built, the show also unveils never-seen-before experiments drawn from a treasure trove of long-forgotten mysteries.


The true art of magic will be explored in exquisite, turn of the century grandeur in this larger than life production from the acclaimed creative team behind international mega hits The Illusionists and The Illusionists 2.0. In this world premiere at QPAC audiences will discover first-hand the spectacles that transformed stage entertainment over 100 years ago.


After the weeklong magic of Woodford Folk Festival it seems apt that the first show on offer in 2015 is a celebration of old world grand magic.


The Illusionists 1903 is the newest creation of its kind from producers, Simon Painter and Tim Lawson. The third lavish instalment in the smash hit live-on-stage series, The Illusionists 1903 features some of the world’s greatest practitioners of magic and illusion. It’s at QPAC until Sunday.


Having missed the previous productions (The Illusionists & The Illusionists 2.0) I’m unable to offer a comparative study, but what I do know is this: people love the mystery and allure of magic and they keep coming to see it! With a simple formula designed to please, featuring a little bit of history and eight Illusionists, each with their own character and area of expertise, it’s a no-brainer. That’s not to say that audiences will even come close to working out how the magic is done. If we suspend disbelief and don’t look too closely we miss the clues exposed by slowly changing lighting states and slightly clumsy moves.


The Illusionists 1903 actually has something for everyone and at times it’s truly astonishing. An interesting aspect of this version though, is the inclusion of some sleight of hand “micromagic”; the card and coin tricks you’ll likely see at a party (or on the streets of Woodfordia). Only with close up real time footage shown on a suspended screen can we see what’s going on. It makes me question the validity of this form within a show such as this. Or is it a brilliant masterstroke, using the available technology, allowing us to get a glimpse of the magic when otherwise it would be missed? The Maestro (Armando Lucero) invites two audience members to join him at the table on stage, in order to witness proceedings at close hand, and it is this couple that get the best of this part of the show, micromagic being much more exciting close up.


The Immortal (Rick Thomas) confounds me, and not only because of his tricks. In keeping with his arrogant character, he states in a most confident and terrifying manner, “Woman was created using a man’s rib. Tonight I’ll take it back! It’s a little creepy. Distasteful. I cringe. Is it just me? The real question remains: how does he make the girl disappear and reappear? After the show I’m told the “secret” compartments in each apparatus can be seen if you know what to look for… “Not listening! Lalalaaaa!”




The Clairvoyants (Thommy Ten & Amelie van Tass) don’t serve the show as well as they should. Each mentalism segment is slow, giving us time to question whether or not these tricks are set up before the show, and there are too few “wow” moments. Cynical me decides they must have plants in the audience, in which case van Tass’s true talent is an incredible ability to instantly memorise and later recall in the correct order, the facts pertaining to each audience member. Is the real question though, “What does it matter?!” If that’s entertainment, it doesn’t matter. But let’s make it entertaining.


The Eccentric (Charlie Frye) boasts some seriously impressive circus skills, making him another anomaly in this line up. Though it’s not strictly magic, his vaudevillian humour and his tricks using interlocking hoops, and his balancing and juggling acts win the respect of the Brisbane audience. Sam and I argue whether or not there is more “skill” in these acts than there is in conjuring an illusion.




The Daredevil (Jonathan Goodwin) is another clear favourite of Sam’s. He gains instant respect from me due to his physique husband and father status (read your glossy souvenir program, peeps!). All around, we hear him being compared to Houdini and Johnny Jackass Knoxville.


Meanwhile, I’m wondering if his wife has ever stopped thinking yet that he might not come home after a show; that it might end BAD.


He’s not a magician, nor an illusionist. He’s an escapologist! Everything he does is for reals, kids… Don’t try it at home! Here’s the gimmick: invite an audience member to perform a classic pain threshold trick and then casually, respectfully, with a disarming smile, up the anti. Felicity, from the audience, reluctant to lie on a bed of 1000 nails, does so with the assistance of Goodwin, who explains the science behind it. I wish I’d had a science teacher like Goodwin at high school. If that were the case I may have taken Science in Senior instead of Modern History. #sorrynotsorrydad Anyway, knowing the science behind the feat now, we watch Goodwin settle on just one nail! Ouch! This guy also plays with knives… #ofcoursehedoes He plays 5-finger fillet AKA “Nerve”, which is a “game” with which a friend used to freak me out (he used a flick knife given to him by his father, which he kept on him at all times. No, not my friend anymore). Goodwin’s manner is easy going; a carefully crafted, or else completely genuine combination of Hugh Jackman effortless suavity, Richard Branson devil could care less larrikinism and Robert Downey Jnr slick tendency towards double entendre.




Later, it’s not enough for The Daredevil to get out of a straight jacket; it’s been done. But apparently this is new: Goodwin is hoisted upside down and left to hang by his boots while a fuse is lit and flames creep towards his trousers, leaving him just sixty seconds in which to get free and put out that fire. Phew! Going by the gasps in the crowd, this act has the desired effect, especially on the kids in the audience. Seriously, kids, don’t try it at home.


I enjoy the music. It’s old school, vaudeville, maintaining the salon/saloon sorta’ mood and building tension where appropriate. Sometimes it’s played live on stage… And then we recognise something from the montage in Singing in the Rain (even Rocky had a montage).





The show should have finished with The Immortal’s levitation illusion, which was short and sweet, and truly breathtaking. Instead, we went back to The Maestro’s card tricks, captured on camera and conveyed to the big screen; an anti-climax to say the least, with those uninvolved (ie the other Illusionists) posed on stage as if they were waxen figures. Awkward.


The Maestro’s insistence that we would suffer “sleepless nights” wondering about the magic left me wondering if he was for real. This is not a show that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, but it’s a great way to start a magical new year. I may be one of a handful but the truth is I don’t care how the trick is done. I’m curious, sure, but ultimately I want to be entertained, and I want to leave the theatre feeling breathless and awe inspired. With the exclusion of the The Immortal’s levitation and The Daredevil’s dramatic flames, this show lacks wow factor.


While high expectations might mean it’s not the spectacle it promises to be The Illusionists 1903 offers a genteel evening of parlour tricks, physical challenges and grand illusions. The brand lays claim to a large and loyal following, though this particular production may be better suited to a more intimate theatre and a smaller crowd each time.


If you’re a fan of any sort of magic and illusion you’ll certainly get a glimpse of it here. But only until Sunday so be quick!



The Naked Magicians – return season


The Naked Magicians 

Brisbane Powerhouse & Samuel Klingner Enterprises 

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

June 19 – 29 2014


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


Christopher Wayne & Mike Tyler bring the whole package, if you know what I mean, to their latest Naked Magicians stint. The boys are back by popular demand! This is not the first time this duo has graced us with their presence and then some. After making waves at Adelaide Fringe Festival and the Brisbane Comedy Festival it’s no wonder we’ve welcomed them back!


I’m not sure what’s more attractive about the show. The fact that it’s a magic show or that they put their own twist on it. We know it’s a given the magicians themselves are quite attractive. We’ve heard of magic tricks and dark magic before, but kinky magic? It’s a little different and a lot of fun.


Magic shows simply aren’t driving the line in theatre anymore in the Brisbane community. The Illusionists and Illusionists 2.0 are the biggest ones that many Brisbanites will remember. When I think magician I think of Uncle Larry and his amateur vaudeville hour at the kids’ birthday party…


But the hilarious and naughty pair XS Entertainment saw this weekend is something much better than that! I wasn’t sure what to call them but Tyler and Wayne have labelled themselves as “naked magicians”. Try putting that one on your resume! When you think magician you think mystery and secrecy but these guys bare it all. It’s part of the charm that makes the magic more impressive.


Without the cap and hat, where do they hide the bunny? Let’s not think too hard about it.


The Naked Magicians. Image by Annette Dew.


This show is necromancy meets nudity; mentalist meets mental and a good deal of comedy rolled into one. See the dynamic duo strut their stuff before they leave Brisbane once more.

The Naked Magicians must close June 29 2014.




The Naked Magicians


The Naked Magicians

Brisbane Powerhouse & Samuel Klingner Entertainment Enterprises

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

Feburary 25 – March 2 2014


Reviewed by Guy Frawley




Settling into my seat for the opening night premiere of The Naked Magicians I was looking forward to the show. After interviewing Chris Wayne the previous day he’d certainly piqued my interest. An interesting combination of comic stand up, magic show and titillating strip tease, The Naked Magicians would appear to be attempting to corner several markets at once. This attempt is generally, if not always, successful but either way, the audience is guaranteed a laugh out loud evening of risque entertainment as the magical duo Chris Wayne and Mike Tyler put their slogan to the test…


Good magicians don’t need sleeves. Great magicians don’t need pants.


After Simon Paynter came up with the original concept, based around his poster of a magician stark naked save for a strategically placed top, Chris Wayne was invited to help flesh out the idea before quickly bringing on board his long time friend, Mike Tyler




Driving home, my date for the evening walked me through how a number of the tricks had been performed. He’s got a sharper eye than I, but fortunately, an explanation didn’t make the boys performance any less impressive. The Naked Magicians is carried entirely by the thoroughly entertaining performance of Wayne and Tyler.


The magic is cool and the magicians are hot but that’s all just icing on the cake. The core of this show is that Chris Wayne and Mike Tyler are great performers, and have an easy rapport with their audience.


In saying that, there is some polishing required, the ‘big reveal’ that was supposed to serve as the climax of the show fell flat through the delivery and the obvious nature of the trick. The Visy is an intimate venue so perhaps they had prepared this with a more distant stage in mind, but when the seams and pop-buttons of Tyler’s jacket were clearly visible every time he turned around there wasn’t any surprise or mystery left in the closing trick.


I loved the affable nature of the show. We really get the feeling that it was conjured on a Brisbane balcony by a couple of mates over many a beverage, and when those mates just happen to be established magicians with a cracking sense of humour then I think you’re probably onto a pretty good thing!


It was great to see the audience enjoying this new show so much and I’ll be interested to see how the tour goes. Discussing the show afterwards with the production team there were whispers regarding future tour dates and if I had a bet on I’d say the guys are onto something. We should expect to see them selling out theatres across the nation with The Naked Magicians.


You’ll have to rustle up some magic of your own if you’re hoping to get tickets for the final show tonight! The run at Brisbane Powerhouse is technically sold out, but if you manage to snag yourself a ticket or two you’re guaranteed to have an entertaining evening.




A candid chat with The Naked Magicians


The Naked Magicians


That’s right! They are magicians and they are NAKED! Guy Frawley chats with one half of the boldest, cheekiest double act around!

February 25 2014



The Naked Magicians officially launches tonight at the Powerhouse and for their first trick, they’ve pulled a sold out run out of their hat! I was able to catch up with Chris Wayne, one half of the titular Naked Magicians, to talk about the show, magic and male nudity.


G: How did this all get started? Your colleague Simon Paynter originally came up with the concept, but what started yours and Mike Tyler’s involvement?


C: It was over a beer one night, he told me of an idea that he had for a poster more than anything, he had an idea for a poster that he thought would make a great idea for a show. That’s sort of the order he comes up with ideas for his incredible shows. He came up with a great idea for the concept or branding of a show called The Naked Magicians and the poster was an image of a magician with a top hat covering his, ah, genitals. And he asked me to come and see if I could write something on it, I spent 4 years working as the comedy writer for B105 so I had 4 years writing experience under my belt, a belt I no longer wear. Yep, magic naked jokes. I thought about what the show would look like in my head, took it back to him and we started to workshop it from there. He met Mike Tyler through me, he’s one of my best mates, and Mike’s not only an amazing entertainer but he’s also a very good looking man! We decided he’d make a good counterpart to me and that’s how it all started.


G: So Simon got the ball rolling and you helped develop the show, when Mike came onboard what was his involvement?


C: Mike came in during the writing period and being one of my best friends we’d just sit around and talk about how we can take some of the strongest magic and the magic from our shows and make it a little bit naughty? how can we make it cheeky? How do we make it funny? And you know, it’s easy to have a laugh when you’re hanging out with your best mate. So we started just writing it together between Mike and I and once we had Simon’s blessing to start developing this concept of a cheeky, naughty magic show, we spent 6 months working on it, coming up with ideas, tuning them, fine tuning them and creating a show that was a balance of amazing magic but also naughty, sexy, funny magic. And we think we’ve hit the nail on the head with that!


G: How exciting for you all that tonight is the official launch at the Powerhouse, and the following 6 shows, are all sold out!


C: Yeah, we had to add extra shows. And we were nervous because the comedy festival is famous just for having comedians, some of the best comedians in the world come to this. And then the Powerhouse quite graciously added us to the lineup and it’s been received really well  and sold out before opening. So they added some extra shows, and they’ve now sold out too! We’re just so excited with how the show’s been received and so we want to honour that by giving people something that they, literally, never would have experienced before.


G: Talking about things that have never been seen before, when it comes to magic there seems to have been a resurgence over the past few years with the old tricks being done in a new way for new audiences. You’ve appeared to come up with a pretty effective diversion, two hot guys in the nude is going to help keep the audience looking elsewhere! How much of the show though is fresh content you’ve both created and how much of it is reworked ‘classics’?


C: Well number 1, you’re totally right, magic right now is more popular than it’s been in a long time and that’s thanks to performers like Criss Angel and David Blaine and the likes. Their strength is that they’ve made it popular again, their weakness is that it’s all TV magic. So when you come to a live show you really can’t beat experiencing it first hand; that’s a really cool thing! For us with this show, we wanted everything to be as original as possible; we wanted all of the magic to be strong. We didn’t want the weight of the show to be on the nudity, the comedy or the magic. We wanted it to all be equally strong, so what we’ve done is taken some brand new material and stuff we’d tried and tested, that worked really well. We’ve also taken some of the classics of magic and made them a little bit naughtier. A good example of that is a part in the show when Mike and I have a showdown and have to escape from straight jackets, we asked ourselves how could we make this funny and a bit more relevant? So Mike wears the straight jacket and I’m tied up in a ‘Gay’ jacket, we’ve dyed it in rainbow colours, added sequins and feathers. It’s like a straightjacket, but it’s fabulous!



G: Getting up on stage in front of 7 sold out shows is daunting enough for anyone, let alone sans clothing, how are you guys keeping in shape and preparing for the official launch.


C: I gotta be honest, we’ve been working really hard. I’ve been working out and have kept to a strict diet for the show and have lost 13kg to prepare. When I knew I had to get naked I was like, ‘Lets do it!’. Mike swims and cycles so he’s already in amazing physical shape, I had a lot of catching up to do. So for the last 6 months I’ve been on a very strict diet, I go to the gym 6 days a week. It’s been a combination of hard work and diet and I gotta say it’s one of my proudest achievements out of all of it this that I’ve lost all this weight without posting a single selfie at the gym. The reason I do it is because we really want to give the audience the best, we want the show to be funny , we want it to be magical, but also while we’re up there we want people to get a little bit excited when that point of the show comes and we lose our clothes. It’s so much harder to be a sexy naked man than it is to be a sexy naked woman. Hopefully people will like what they see!


G: Talking about stage shows with male nudity people automatically think of Puppetry of the Penis, to what extent do you think they broke the ice for you and how much of your performance was inspired by them?


C: We didn’t take inspiration from Puppetry of the Penis so to speak, but what they did do was show Australia that we like to laugh at that sort of stuff. It showed that Australians weren’t prudes and that theatre could be naughty. To point out briefly, they’re this countries biggest live export for a theatre show ever in our history, so they really paved the way. We’ve had Puppetry of the Penis and Busting Out that have done phenomenally. But we view ourselves as completely separate, yes we’re an adult show and yes we do get naked in the show but it’s incredibly separate from both those shows.


G: Do you feel that it was a bit more of a challenge for you, considering both magicians are male, as I think in Australia especially we have this strange disconnect in the media between male nudity and female nudity. Do you think there were any barriers there for you when creating the show or has it been a pretty straight forward process?


C: It’s actually been really well received. The press seem to be jumping on board and it hasn’t been too much of an issue. I suppose I don’t know what else to say, other than that it’s been really well received.


G: Well that speaks for itself doesn’t it.


C: It does! And it’s funny because I think sexuality is a big thing in 2014, the Powerhouse has been dealing with that exact issue at the moment with the Queer Film Festival. There was a poster, the poster they were using to promote the festival, and the Brisbane City Council said the image was too confronting and it was just a poster of a male couple kissing on the beach. So it’s a weird thing, Mike and I have posters up all over the city wearing nothing but a top hat covering our penises but if we were kissing all of a sudden that would be an issue, that breaks my heart a little. But I think in the context of our show it’s been really well received.


If you’re now kicking yourself that you missed out on getting tickets then never fear, you still have one last chance as a new show was announced yesterday for tomorrow night Wednesday the 26th. I wouldn’t be waiting for long though, if the past is anything to go by these new tickets will be selling fast!



The show must go on – The Illusionists 2.0


The Illusionists 2.0 

QPAC with Tim Lawson & Simon Painter 

QPAC Concert Hall

19 – 27 January 2014


Reviewed by Josh Kirwan


The Illusionists 2.0


What do you get when you mix QPAC’s concert hall with a bunch of strobe lights, confetti machines and six of the world’s top magicians all rolled into one? The astonishing production that is The Illusionists 2.0, that’s what! The unbelievable magic and the bold defiance of the conceivable laws of nature left me bewildered at the end of the show in a way that I have never felt before.


I will admit that as this was my first magic show, The Illusionists 2.0 – the sequel to last year’s smash hit – went straight to the top of my list. But in the age of the Internet, thanks to YouTube, I’ve seen my fair share of magic tricks, and the feats of The Illusionists was something to behold. With everything from card tricks to miraculous escapes from imminent death, the magicians had a little bit of everything, and they pulled it off flawlessly.


Obviously I don’t want to give anything away or ruin any of the surprises, but the show has an uncanny way of drawing you in and making you a part of the magic. It’s almost as if you become involved in the show itself. Audience engagement is one of the keys to a good performance and as with every element, these performers manage it brilliantly, though I am still sceptical of whether or not their “audience member volunteers” were just that… I suppose we are all sceptics until we find ourselves on stage with a sword pointed at our head!


Unfortunately the show was somewhat mired in an air of tragedy, due to the very recent loss in a tragic accident of one of The Illusionists. A touching message from the entire company was displayed prominently at the Concert Hall.


On Saturday 11 January 2014, our friend and renowned hypnotist, Dr Scott Lewis, passed away. He made a remarkable contribution to this world premiere production, and he is dearly missed. We dedicate the Brisbane season to his memory.


However, the show must go on. In their dedication to their friend and colleague, the magicians pressed on and put on a stellar performance.


In a very timely patriotic mention, it was good to see our Australian, Raymond Crowe, up on the stage. Some of you might recognise this Unusualist from Australia’s Got Talent. He is definitely up their with the best of them, with his funny antics and a unique spin on the typical magic show.


On stage with him was American born Futurist, Adam Trent, who used some fancy tech to show off his skills. The amazing Warrior took the art of weaponry to a whole new level and the unbelievable Deceptionist, James Moore, demonstrated his astounding high-risk tricks. The current world magic champion, Yu Ho-Jin the Manipulator, boasts unbelievable skill with cards. And of course, last but definitely not least, The Master Magician, Luis De Matos, charismatically leads the show and pulls off some amazing magic.


Together these talented men made the impossible seem like the easiest thing in the world.


The best part about this production is that it is for absolutely everyone; from young children to elderly gentlemen, everyone will love this show. If you can scrounge a ticket, catch one of the final shows before The Illusionists 2.0 closes on January 27. You don’t want to miss this fabulous opportunity to witness world-class magic in our own backyard.