Blending the history of magical greats, with a modern show style is a something of culmination of a lifetime’s ambition for magician Christian Farla.
The Dutchman’s settling into ‘the home of magic’ Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s Horseshoe Bar, making it his own home from home for the summer, having opened his show there last Friday night.
He got into magic at the age of eight, as so many children go through a similar phase, thanks to his grandfather who was a magician.
And within a couple of years he’d been crowned junior magic champion of the Netherlands.
Picked up for his skills by Stage Entertainment, a major company there which has a special school to train young variety-type acts, he picked up his first professional contract at 15, combining work with completing his education.
“It was amazing, I was on the road doing events when I was 15,” he said.
My uncle was working in England and heard about the magic show at the Horseshoe, and he took me to see Mystique the next time it was the school holidays, with Richard De Vere. I remember thinking it was a nice place and I always remembered it.Christian Farla
“And then, when I was about 20, I got my first major contract - to make five BMW cars appear in a major stunt.
“This was so lucky for me, as the money meant I could follow my dream to create my own show, which is a major investment.”
Playing a summer season in Blackpool is as much part of his own career dream too.
“My uncle was working in England and heard about the magic show at the Horseshoe, and he took me to see Mystique the next time it was the school holidays, with Richard De Vere,” Christian said.
“I remember thinking it was a nice place and I always remembered it.
“I have performed in Las Vegas, for four years in Germany and in China, but it has always been on my wish list, if it ever became possible to work here.
“So you can imagine I was pretty happy to get the chance when [Pleasure Beach managing director] Amanda Thompson said I was welcome to come - and the next challenge was to come up with a show to do.”
With hosting the annual Blackpool Magic Festival, the resort maintains a worldwide status within magicians’ circles.
Christian took to the Opera House stage for the festival’s gala night in 2012, and he booked to appear again next year.
“That will be fantastic, to be able to come back after having done a two-month run here,” he said. “I’m so happy to have had Amanda’s support in keeping magic in Blackpool.”
Christian, who was seen on national TV at the audition stage of Britain’s Got Talent in 2014 - drawing a one-word response from Simon Cowell: “Wow”, took his inspiration for his Blackpool show from the combination of his own background and the magical heritage of the venue.
And a comment from master magician David Copperfield, who he met in Vegas, to ‘never forget the history of magic’ helped him form the idea.
In the Horseshoe, Christian’s set for the Magic and Illusions show takes you back in time - there are posters up of the greats, Houdini, Alexander and Blackstone, as well as original props owned by these stars of the magical realm.
Some of the props seen on stage aren’t even used in the show, but they hide their own magical secrets within, while adding to the setting.
He proudly claims to take their original tricks, performing them in his own style adding contemporary flair and even a bit of 50 Shades Of Grey, with added straps when it comes to ‘sawing the lady in half’ and .
“When David Copperfield told me that, I started working on the concept, but never had the place to do the show,” he said. “But when the Horseshoe came up, it seemed the perfect place as the home of magic.
“The audience gets to go back in time, while I’m trying to make my place in history.
“Sawing a lady in half is one of the oldest tricks, but the way I present it is rare by having the audience involved.”
Farla’s show opens with quick-fire stunts - including the compulsory glamorous assistants appearing and disappearing in a flash, then he uses big screens to bring the audience up close to coin and card tricks, swapping between these smaller moments with full on flash illusions.
Having seen the show, I was rather baffled, but was even more impressed to see some of the card and coin tricks even closer, right before my eyes.
Luckily, the full kit for ‘sawing the woman in half’ wasn’t available when I popped in for a chat... Christian’s brandishing of the blades was nerve-wracking enough.
But I wasn’t the only one to be feeling the nerves.
“I was quite nervous to open the show, not knowing whether it would work or not for an audience,” Christian said, a week into his summer stint. “Especially with it being a bit of a special moment for me from my youth, and wanting so much to do it right.
“I put my whole life into this, it’s not just been writing a show.
“So it was great to hear from families that they enjoyed it.”
* Christian Farla, Horsehoe Bar, Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Call 0871 2229090 for tickets.