Bringing magic to the town

Blackpool Magic Convention Winter Gardens Jay Sankey, lecturer from Canada
Blackpool Magic Convention Winter Gardens Jay Sankey, lecturer from Canada
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Magic is in the air again until Sunday with Blackpool Magicians Convention bringing 3,500 magicians to town for the 59th annual event.

The Blackpool Magicians Convention is the world’s largest and is a complete sell out every year thanks to the 42 member Blackpool Magicians Club.

The convention organiser is 72 year-old Derek Lever from Preesall who has spent over 53 years as a professional magician and fire eater. Organising this event takes more than nine months work with over 50 artistes contracted from 15 different countries.

Registration officer Arthur Casson has also spent a lifetime in showbusiness as a magician, musician and comedian – and for the past eight months he has been inundated with requests from magicians in countries all over the world trying to obtain tickets. So desperate are some they are offering black market prices and trying to purchase any spares on eBay.

This year’s convention incorporates the prestigious Federation of International Stage Magicians (FISM) European Magical Championships which has brought 71 magicians from all over Europe to compete in either the Close Up Magic Championships or the Stage Magic Championships. The European Magical Championship winners will be announced on Saturday night and all the winners will reprise their acts on the Opera House stage.

Topping the bill on Sunday’s Gala Show is illusionist Jonathan Hawley who lives in the UK but spends most of his time performing in the USA. His final illusion is the levitation of his girl assistant who rises 20ft into the air and then Jonathan flies up to be with her.

Scott Penrose opens the show with card manipulation and dove production. Also featured will be Jimmy Tamley a star ventriloquist for over 30 years, Xavier Tapias from Spain, Dimmare from the USA and local boy Victor Michael, the first time at any magic convention a singer has closed the first half of a show.

After the interval Roy Gardner and Butler James present their own brand of comedy chaos, Michael Finney from the USA takes fun with a spectator to a new level, son of the late Polish magician Salvano will be presenting his version of an act which gained his father a standing ovation at an earlier convention and closing the evening Victor Michael will sing Magic Is My First Love with all the artistes taking their bow as giant fountains fill the stage along with the Dolphin Dancers.

Compering the Gala Show are Blackpool duo Clive Webb and Danny Adams.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday 130 magic dealers will be selling the latest magic tricks and illusions. On Saturday morning Jimmy Tamley will perform his one man children’s show.

The prestigious Murray Award is being awarded to local entertainer Arthur Casson for his services to magic. One will also be awarded to magical author Roy Johnson. Club life president Ken Dodd will also present his Comedy Award.

A mammoth magical auction is being held in the Spanish Hall when hundreds of magical props and illusions will be offered for sale.

Wayne Dobson presents a lecture on Friday night and there are 10 other star lecturers by famous magicians (including Canada’s Jay Sankey) plus two international close up magic shows and for the first time an exhibition of showbusiness posters by Ken Bowe and photographs of famous magicians by Zakary Belamy.

A Beat The Wand competition late on Saturday night and an after show party cabaret on Sunday night complete the proceedings.

n The next Blackpool Magicians Convention is being held from February 17 to 19 next year. The FISM World Championships of Magic presented by Blackpool Magicians Club from July 9 to 14 next year. Bookings for both these events are now available.