South Tyneside International Magic Week 14th - 20th March 2005
Two reviews by Norn Bichan
and Roni Shachnaey


Review 1, by Norn Bichan

South Tyneside International Week 2005, was a fantastic event.

Over the week 14th to 20th March magicians from the local area and beyond entertained 55 schools, 8 libraries and 4 retirement homes. In addition there were 2 star-studded Gala Shows at the Custom House Theatre, street magic and a special magical extravaganza for families at Cleadon Park.

The intimate 150-delegate convention was based at the Little Haven Hotel, South Shields in the North East of England, and had a great line-up of UK and International talent.

Comedy magician Michael Finney headlined the American contingent, with mentalist Richard Osterlind and writer/magician Jamy Ian Swiss also making the long trip over. Ireland gave us Pat Fallon and Tanya, as well as Manchester based Quentin Reynolds.

The Swiss/German pairing of Freddie Rutz and Ann provided dynamic dance oriented shows and a lecture on posture, movement and loading props in a manner that can withstand tap dancing before cane productions!

UK based performers included Paul Daniels with his Malini show, Loki with his stylish twisted fairytale act, Martin James & Co. with their distinctive illusion act and John Allen with his close-up act.

The event had a practical core running through it, with workshops from both Jamy Ian Swiss and Richard Osterlind, usable effects and guidance from all the lecturers, and a lecture on “Using and protecting your voice” from Simon Raybould of Curved Vision.

Dealers at the event were, John Allen with a range of his own effects, Kennedy whose printer has sadly let him down on delivery - this would have been an ideal situation to launch his book of mentalism, Dream Concepts illusions, Practical Magic who must have nearly sold out of 'Torn Paper to Hat' after Quentin Reynolds performance, and finally Albion Magic who managed to demo ten products in ten minutes which I thought pretty impressive.

The standard of performing line up and overall organisation of this year's event matched the 2004 event, and is a great credit to Martin Duffy of Newcastle Magic Circle and Karri Prinn and Andy Byers of South Tyneside. Their work has sent 150 magicians away very happy, with nothing but good things to say about South Tyneside and the North East.

Highlights included:

Richard Osterlind's a) poor grasp of Scandinavian geography, and b) his disbelief at his loosing a game of noughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe).

Michael Finney's a) ability to pick a male member of the audience who had no cash, no credit card, no wallet (exactly the same happened to Gregory Wilson in 2004) and b) his hilarious midnight show.

John Allen’s assistant bit of fluff, Benson, failing to find the correct card – by which time it didn’t matter we were laughing so much.

Paul Daniels cutting a ribbon he had just restored so each of his young assistants could have a momento.

The event has a friendly atmosphere, fabulous acts and lecturers that hit home information that should help develop a participant’s knowledge and abilities.

I normally drive everywhere with the radio on. After South Tyneside International Magic Week 2005 I drove the 5 hours home without even realising I hadn’t switched the radio on. My head was buzzing with information, ideas and memories from a great event.

© Norn Bichan, March 2005.


Review 2, by Roni Shachnaey


This time I will start at the end. My final thoughts on the convention before we went home were; “I wish it was the beginning and not the end” For me it was one of the better conventions from beginning to end. I can’t wait for next year and indeed I have already put my name on the list as numbers are going to stay at 150. I know that after this year there will be many more trying to register so why take a chance?

We have arrived at the Little Haven Hotel Thursday evening and I was pleasantly surprised to see that in the foyer there where a good number of magicians entertaining one another as only magicians can do. The registration process was very efficient and quick and each one of us received a specially designed package with all that was necessary for the convention; individual badges, tickets to the various shows and other bits and pieces relevant to the convention. Here I want to pause for a second just so I can praise the organisers that did everything and beyond throughout the convention to make everything run smoothly and our stay unforgettable. What an excellent team! After a good mix and mingle filled with magic and laughter my wife and I went to have our well-earned rest.

Friday morning we gathered in the Little Haven Hotel and were “ferried” by coaches to the Customs House where Quentin Reynolds took centre stage for the Children's Magic Show. The council organised a couple of schools to come and be the “real” audience for Quentin. What followed was in a word AMAZING. Quentin started by warming up the children with a handkerchief that “Origami-Style” changed shapes from a hat to a mouse. The mouse came to life in Quentin’s hands running and jumping all over to the children screams of delight and this was only the beginning. Quentin moved on and created a “Magician” out of one of his helpers with charm, laughter and excellent magic. As a finale Quentin produced a white Rabbit but although he could have finished there he carried on with a very funny and entertaining competition that brought the house down as friends of the children on stage cheered the competitors on. A big mention should be given to Quentin for his excellent Ventriloquism routine that had us all in stitches.
What a show and what a performer!

After the children left the theatre it was Quentin’s time to take us all into his world of magic. His lecture was as good as his show. All explained nicely and professionally. May I say that if you did not have Quentin Reynolds at your society you are missing a great lecturer – so what are you waiting for book him as soon as you can!

After the show and the lecture we where treated by the organisers to a Buffet style lunch which we all agreed was great.

So far I did not mention Martin Duffy. Martin is a “live wire” He seemed to be everywhere. He is a very hard-working person and without his help and support the convention would not be what it was. So carry on Martin with the great work you are doing, we are all indebted to you for everything you have done to make this convention a success.

At 2 pm we where treated to a lecture by Jamy Ian Swiss. Jamy is a magician based in Brooklyn, USA and is very well-known and respected by the “big names” in magic for his professional advice. Jamy started with “Signed card to a book of matches” The effect was explained with a very excited Jamy literally shouting his explanations. As a result of this I had to leave the room and stay at the very back; if only to protect my over sensitive ears. However he did very clever and most entertaining card work that had the conventioneers spell bound. Yet another high score for the organisers!

After Jamy we were treated to a lecture by Simon Raybould… a different kind of lecture that was aimed at teaching us how to use our voice correctly. This is a very interesting subject and I think the organisers thought very well to bring this subject to the fore. We all use our voices in different ways but the key is to make use of your voice effectively. Again all I can say is “Well done” to the organisers for a different lecture on a much needed topic. Judging by the faces and the small talk of my fellow magicians I know that they all enjoyed the variety offered.

After a short rest and a bite to eat we where ushered by our friendly coach drivers back to the Customs House for the Gala Show.

With Jamy Swiss being the compere everything moved on with good magic and laughter. After a mental and very funny card effect Jamy introduced the first act.

Freddie Rutz. This act was certainly different. The young man started with a song then followed with a dance and a superb production of canes leading to literally setting his trouser leg on fire out of which huge white paper streamer were produced. Nice show and the best thing about it was that it was absolutely different. Very enjoyable.

Next on the line up was our own Martyn James & Co. What can I say? This young man is most definitely going places. I would suggest to those who are booking acts for the Magic Societies here and abroad to book this young man and his two wonderful assistants. Martyn took his show to a different level. Many illusions – but not of the ordinary kind. Whatever illusion is presented it seems that he is taking the audience to a different imaginary place. Each imaginary place has its own flavour laced with humour which makes the show so powerful. In the audience there were “lay people” and all you heard were one minute a loud gasp followed by a burst of laughter. The magician’s comments were to the effect that every time they see Martyn he is getting funnier. If you want a great illusion act that will keep your guests on the edge of their seats one minute and with laughter the next than this is it.

The last act of the evening was Richard Osterlind from the USA. I must say with regret that Richard in my eyes did not sparkle but rather delivered the goods somewhat mechanically but, hey, I am a magician who is quite familiar with Richard’s type of work but not so the lay audience. They gasped as Richard delivered his version of Q&A that was more of the MEDIUM type of Q&A rather than as we know it. Very strong and again a lot to learn from his very inventive mind. Richard also showed us versions of Spoon Bending that worked extremely well and is very convincing. This is a man that knows what he is doing but unfortunately on that particular night lost the oomph.

After the show we where transported back to the Hotel. I was tired by that time and decided to retire for the night but from the chit chat on Saturday morning I understand that quite a good few stayed up till the early hours of the morning.

Saturday morning started with a Dealers Dem. I enjoyed every minute of it as I am sure did the others.


Then a quick break and the Richard Osterlind lecture was upon us. Richard is a thinking mentalist an inventor and a “Twister” of methods. His spoon bending is an absolute delight to watch and a great privilege to learn. Richard took us into his confidence and showed us a 4 card revelation that is second to none. Other items where just as good. Very enjoyable, a first class lecture. Next we were served with a buffet style hot lunch. Plenty of food and excellent quality.

Next lecture: Pat Fallon. What can I say? Pat is an “Old Fox” in the business. Every time you see him he has something different to lecture on. Most of his effects are simple, direct but above all Magical. For me he can lecture at any convention and I’ll be there.

After the lectures we had a short break to catch our breath. Everyone I spoke to was extremely happy with convention and said they will be back next year. Why am I not surprised?

Next on the agenda Close-up; Jamy opened the sessions with a coin routine followed by Colour changes, Thought of card and other such like effects. Very well done and indeed very well received.

Next was Jon Allen who did Matrix followed by an excellent card routine, ring in party popper, very intriguing.
The highlight of his close-up routine was Benson the chick (Quadrochick) that had every one in stitches.

Last on the list was Richard Osterlind. He opened up with Linking finger rings and moved on to ESP cards next a four ace routine followed by a Tic Tac Toe prediction finishing with a superb watch routine.

Coffee and tea followed by a well earned rest.

Around 8pm we were ferried yet again to the Customs House for another Gala show.

This time Michael Finney was the compere. Michael is one of the best comedy act magic has ever produced and indeed he had us all in stitches throughout the show.

First to be introduced was Loki with his unique theatrical show presented absolutely flawlessly.

Next on stage were the “Dynamic Duo” Pat and Tanya Fallon. This duo is something else; what they pack into their show one would need a super memory to just try and remember. The more I see them the bigger their impact. An act not to be missed.

The Gala show came to an end with Paul Daniels who treated us to his now famous Malini act. I loved it. Paul presented Malini in a charming most magical way although I felt it was a little too long.

After the Gala we were ferried back to the Little Haven Hotel for yet another treat! Michael Finney’s special Midnight Show. To say SPECIAL would be an understatement. To say FUNNY is yet another understatement. The man is a genius of comedy and a very slick magician. This combination makes him LETHAL and this is yet another understatement! What a day! WOW!

Sunday morning came and my head was still buzzing from the day before but the organisers thought that we still did not have enough!

Still two more lectures to go one by Freddie Rutz. He took us through his act and the way he designed it being a professional dancer and singer as well as a magician! So much to learn in so little time.

The last lecture was delivered by Michael Finney. Here is a man that magic is his profession and whose act is his money-maker but, he still unveiled his act in front of us all with charm and grace. I have met a lot of artists in my life but I must say this; Michael is the most humane warm person I have ever met and with all his fame he makes sure you know he is a friend!

We went home a few minutes after but some stayed for the afternoon as they had paid for Master Classes by Richard Osterlind and Jamy Ian Swiss. From what I heat so far those who stayed got a lot more then what the have bargained for! The promised three hours turned into four and a half!

A very big thank you goes to the organisers as without their team work and huge effort we would not have had such a wonderful convention for such a reasonable fee.

If you are not going next year…Oh what a fool you would be.


© Roni Shachnaey, March 2005.