The Family Festival of Magic 2018

Great Yarmouth

21st. 22nd August 2018
Reviewed by Steve Majes

A second year for “The Family Festival of Magic” was a feature in Great Yarmouth on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd August, two lovely days of sunshine filled with magic, ventriloquism, juggling, escapology and fun! The Family Festival of Magic, is a free to attend outdoor festival from 11am to 4pm with ticketed theatre shows at 4pm and a gala show on the final evening at 7.30pm. I was a performer during this event and here are the highlights of what you may have missed.

A crowd had already gathered around the outdoor stage as I arrived on the Tuesday morning, already being thoroughly entertained by Jake Ace. Jake is a great all-round family entertainer and had taken time out from his residency at Potters Holiday Resort to appear at the festival. Many performers had generously given their time to play a part in this event and the crowd were in for a treat as Max Fulham a talented young ventriloquist was coming on stage next. Max had just finished appearing with Joe Pasquale and had some fantastic reviews, it was lovely chatting with him as he is a very grounded, down to earth young man as well as being an amazingly talented performer, one to watch out for!

Both daytimes were filled with a variety of stage, street and close up performers including Daniel Dee (compere and ventriloquist) presenting a hilarious superhero themed vent mask and vent mic routine, Magic Bill (family magician) had the audience in stitches with a variety of magic skills, Potty Paul (compere, ventriloquist and magician) always fun to watch as you never know what will happen, Nick Chapman (balloon twister and close up magician), Robert Rathbone (close up magician), Kenzie (close up magician), Jeff Drayton (balloon twister and personality), Bryan Clarke (Punch and Judy comedy entertainer), Graham Bull (magician and mentalist), Oliver Garwood (stilt walker, escapologist and magician), The Great Banana (character performer and magician) and myself Steve Majes (magician, escapologist and balloon twister). On the side lines were The Two Jokers with their lovely partners presenting juggling workshops and Martin Peirce selling magic supplies to the visiting and upcoming magicians.

The afternoon shows at 4pm were staged theatre shows, on the Tuesday we had myself presenting a segment from my family cabaret show, Phil Perry a gentleman in magic presenting some classics and amazing the audience with rising cards, Nick Chapman magically entertained with balloon twisting and a very sophisticated performance of the floating table, The Great Banana presented some fun and surprising magic, he is a character you can’t miss! The Two Jokers captivated the audience with a multitude of audience participation along with their comedy antics and topping the bill was Max Fulham with a segment form his ventriloquist cabaret show. A great finish to a fantastic show.

One of the reported highlights of the daytime on Wednesday was an escapology stunt myself and Oliver Garwood had arranged “The Escape Race”, after each of us had been chained and padlocked with one hundred ft of steel chain by members of the crowd, the challenge was to escape in the fastest time and then to pick three padlocks to release a super soaker water gun, the winner would then get the chance to soak his fellow escape artist. Oliver got the soaking but the race was very close coming down to picking the very last lock.

Wednesdays 4pm show was in the capable hands of Sean Haydon, Sean had recently returned from lecturing at the SAM Convention in Orlando. Presenting a great multiple card location, Sean went into a very funny routine with two younger members of the audience and finished by levitating a young lady volunteer. This was a fast flowing show that gave a great finish to the daytime entertainment and lead well in what was to be a one of a kind gala show.

The Gala Show, It is rare that you would ever get the chance to see such a line up of fine performers in one show, so is it any wonder that the show sold out! Olly Day was the perfect compere to open the show and introduced a cast of international performers, Steve Zebs was first to wow the audience with a fast paced magic sequence producing fun items from an empty box, followed by some very entertaining audience participation with a young man and a magic kettle and finishing on a lovely levitation with a paper ball into a paper rose, as a performer myself watching Steve’s techniques and extra touches really made this the perfect finish to his performance. Potty Paul Henri (ventriloquist) was next on stage with his entertaining companion George T Monkee, I have seen Paul many times and he never fails to have a audience of young or old laughing away with the antics from his very funny monkey. Finishing the first half of the show was Chris North and Belinda presenting highlights from their theatre show “A Cavalcade of Wonders”. A combination of classic magic flowed through Chris and Belinda’s hands with the mutilated parasol, a very stylish floating table from Belinda, a fast paced totem pole escape and a metal plate double wrist chopper from Chris and a brave member of the audience. The finale was a real family affair as their young son Tomos joined them on stage tugging at the heart strings and producing multiple items along with Chris and Belinda in a colourful finish to the first half.

The second half of the gala was compered by Potty Paul Henri, his first job was introducing one of his best friends Oliver Tabor. Wow just wow, Oliver was fantastic! I have known Oliver for many years and he has grown into a very stylish performer without ageing a single day. His casual style captivated the audience with surprising effects happening on every beat, he presented a lovely bubble routine combining some imaginative floating ball sequences and his interaction with a young helper from the audience had that always enjoyable audience gasp at its conclusion, I’ll not spoil that here! Finishing on one of the best dancing handkerchief routines I’ve seen for a long long while, Oliver’s performance was a joy to watch. Olly Day as always had the audience folding over in laughter as his cheeky charm swept over the crowd, Olly is just a fantastic comedy performer with impeccable timing and this longer set from him was so much fun. It was brilliant to see him work his magic on a slightly reluctant lady from the audience, within a few minutes it was like they had been a double act for years. If you have never seen Olly Day, you must! The finale of the whole gala was “Amethyst”, just off one cruise and back on to another it was great luck and perfect timing that Danny and Steph were available to top the bill. Their energy focused everyone with a fast paced fire cage production of Steph, Danny then presented a puzzling display of confusion transforming a pocket puzzle into a staged mystery. Along this journey we saw knots walking Pavel style, records colour changing to Mr Bojangles and Steph vanishing at the peril of being spiked only to reappear seconds later. A fast escape transposition followed by a snowstorm was the ending to a most wonderful show.

A huge thank you to Kyle Sarocen and Stephen Bolam for creating a wonderful festival and also to the people behind the scenes that kept the show rolling. And also an apology to the odd performer I may have forgot to mention, there were so many and you know you were there!

Plans are already in motion for 2019!

© Steve Majes MMC, Secretary of The Anglian Magic Society, September 2018.