The Melbourne Magic Festival: Northcote Town Hall

Caitlin Crowley

In the past 12 months magic has been steadily gaining an audience. Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster produced the Melbourne Magic Festival celebrating magic in all its forms.
The Melbourne Magic Festival: Northcote Town Hall
The Melbourne Magic Festival: Northcote Town Hall Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster have been creating magic together for years. They’ve entertained professionally all around the world and had shows in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne’s Fringe Festival. But this year they’ve produced the Melbourne Magic Festival celebrating magic in all its forms. In the past 12 months magic has been steadily gaining an audience. Australian “unusualist” Raymond Crowe has been enjoying success at home and internationally while English mind-reader Philip Escoffey sold out when he performed in Melbourne in April. Cleverly scheduled in the two week school holiday period and located at the Northcote Town Hall the festival features family-friendly shows in the day and adult-oriented shows in the evenings. Some of the highlights of the festival are: Anthony De Masi…Seriously and Luigi Zucchini Unbelieve It Your kids might notice that Luigi Zucchini bears an uncanny resemblance to Magic Toni from Channel Nine television show Kids WB. Both of them are characters performed by skilled magic practitioner Anthony De Masi. Luigi is a goofy Italian who weaves corny quips and tricks aplenty into his 60-minute set featuring everything from card tricks to yes, pulling a rabbit out of a hat, although you’ll never see a cuter rabbit than De Masi’s magic-wand wielding bunny. Some of his more dazzling stunts include turning a guinea pig into a rabbit, pouring a bottle of milk into a newspaper and producing a dove from a fire. And if that’s not enough for you he can also juggle, ride a unicycle and fold a bird. De Masi also runs magic workshops, sharing his skills with fascinated youngsters. This show is fantastic for kids 12 and under and even better for their parents. The Massive Little Magic Show with Mat Unwin and Lee Cohen Mr Onion (Mat Unwin) and Magical Lee (Lee Cohen) are the brains behind and in front of the Massive Little Magic Show. In a nice twist on traditional magic conventions the female of the pair, Magical Lee, appears to be the one calling the shots with Mr Onion getting in flap as he tries to sort out the various dilemmas they encounter throughout the show. There’s a lovely chemistry between the Mr Onion and Magical Lee and they also prove to be very adept at plucking the right audience members to share the limelight on stage, using them well and never for cheap laughs. The show features lots of magic, nothing out of the ordinary, but certainly well executed tricks. But the Massive Little Magic Show relies on more than magic to impress the audience; they play on the idea that their magic isn’t strong enough and call on the audience to help. While this is fun for awhile, the last trick was just a little too drawn out to maintain the excitement. Good for families and kids who like to be involved. Ellis in Wonderland with Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster Alice (Webster) is all grown-up and when she has a chance encounter with a mysterious man on the train (Ellis) she is magically transported back to Wonderland where she hooks up with all the characters from her childhood visits. Tim Ellis camps it up perfectly as the Queen of Hearts, The Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit, donning the costumes, delivering obtuse dialogue and bringing the well-loved characters to life. Webster is a wonderfully warm grown-up Alice. Together Ellis and Webster weave some expert magic into the show: Ellis makes an audience member’s watch disappear and plucks imaginary mushrooms from the air while Webster brings the Cheshire cat to life and ensures there’s enough blue tea for everyone. Ellis in Wonderland has a definite pantomime-feel with good audience interaction. Ellis and Webster are always utterly professional; the thought and care they put into their shows is evident in every aspect: from the video backdrop for the train journey to the fine magic throughout the show. This is a fun-filled show and is perfect for kids aged 10 and under. Evening shows worth catching are: Sue-Anne Webster’s I Dream of Jeannie Tribute Show, close-up illusionist Simon Coronel Live and Tim Ellis’s intrguing AspyCadabra, a show about being a magician and having Asperger’s Syndrome. Melbourne Magic Festival: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High Street, Northcote 3070 29 June – 11 July 2009 For further information, daily schedules and tickets go to the Melbourne Magic Festival website

About the author

Caitlin Crowley is a Melbourne based reviewer.