United nations of magical fun

Colin Rose performs a card trick at the annual Blackpool Magic Convention at the Winter Gardens.
Colin Rose performs a card trick at the annual Blackpool Magic Convention at the Winter Gardens.
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Review: Blackpool Magicians’ Club International Gala Show, Blackpool Opera House. Sixty is a good time to start thinking about retirement or at least taking things a little easier – but don’t tell the members of Blackpool Magicians’ Club that.

Their annual magic convention – the world’s largest and now a sprightly 60 years old – just continues to grow bigger and better and this year packed the Winter Gardens for three full days of showcases, lectures, interaction, demonstrations, competitions and gala shows.

That’s thousands of professional and amateur magicians and their entourages – not to mention the crème de la crème of performers – in town and spending at an otherwise quiet time of year.

For the first time the event featured a hat trick (no pun intended) of gala shows packing the Opera House – Friday’s Magic of the Orient featuring eight top Korean acts, Saturday’s American and Canadian based show and last night’s European one.

Along the way there were more surprises than cards in a pack – including Blackpool’s own Russ Stevens, one of this year’s recipients of the Murray Awards for services to magic, producing a ring from nowhere and proposing to his girlfriend of more than 20 years (thankfully she said yes), English magic act Amethyst producing a fully grown caged tiger from nowhere (much to the consternation of everyone on the front row) and Korean card expert Yu Ho Jin producing such a long standing ovation for his immaculate opening night act that he was immediately invited back for a repeat performance the second night and again brought the house down with a delivery which marks him out as a future superstar.

Another stunner was Holland’s Christian Farla (and we are not just talking abut his three gorgeous assistants) who was first inspired to take up magic after coming to the convention with his grandfather when he was just 14 and then later seeing the Pleasure Beach’s groundbreaking Mystique show.

Now he’s a major player himself and gave the first UK performance of a remarkably dangerous looking Black Scorpion illusion.

Another first was American Jason Latimer’s “work in progress” – an interesting illusion solidifying water (and ps, never play Find the Lady with him).

As ever Ken Dodd made one of his lengthy “few words” appearances, presenting Wayne Dobson with his Comedy Trophy and briefly finding himself half of a double act with Blackpool favourite Mark Raffles.

Elsewhere Charlie Frye and Compagnie Poc amazed with their juggling, The Evasons almost had everyone convinced that mind reading isn’t an elaborate con trick and Dirk Losander delivered his always popular perfect table levitation routine.

For three days Las Vegas, and the Moulin Rouge came to Blackpool – and we won.

Roll on next year.