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Champions of Magic Press & Reviews

Champions Of Magic Review from the Hereford Times

The MAGIC came to The Courtyard last night as The Champions of Magic took to the stage with a show that was slick, clever, funny ... and amazing.

When you suspend disbelief and allow yourself to be amazed, magic is mesmerising. In a world where we all seem to want to know the how and why of everything, it's a joy to witness things that seem to have no logical explanation, and what's more, not want one! This is a show that is perfectly paced, with comedy an essential part of the mix.

How, for instance, did mentalist Alex McAleer know that Ellie's favourite ice-cream was pistachio and that the word that randomly popped into her head was trampoline? More intriguingly, how did he know that the city she most wanted to visit was Rome - and then present her with an Italian phrasebook inscribed with the instruction to use it in Rome, a gift he'd had in a sealed enveloped since before the show?And how did Edward Hilsum produce not one, but six, white doves from nowhere and equally magically make them - and the cage they were in - vanish without trace? Magic looks pretty cool on the TV, but when it's live on a stage in front of you, the mystery is magnified.

Fay Presto, doyenne of close-up magic, had the audience eating out of her hand as she brought six-year-old Kayleigh out of the audience to assist - and it was magical in every sense of the word when the giant balloon suspended above the stage exploded in a shower of glitter, transformed into a multi-coloured bunch of balloons as Kayleigh watched, wide-eyed. The beauty of magic, especially magic presented as professionally and dramatically as The Champions of Magic show, is that it makes six-year-olds of us all. We want that sense of wonder, we want something we can't explain and, above all, we want to be entertained.

Ensuring that the show came to a thoroughly entertaining and dramatic close were Young and Strange, who met when they were eight years old, and spent their early teenage years attempting, and failing, to make Las Vegas style illusions with cardboard and tape. They are now making illusions in style and the premise of their act is needing to up the ante - brighter lights, bigger tricks, glamorous assistant ... a tiger - to get them to Vegas. And they gave it maximum glitz and a truly impressive illusion plus all the lighting and pyrotechnics we needed to make us feel, just for a moment, that The Courtyard had been transported to The Strip!

Champions Of Magic Review from British Theatre Guide

The third such show of its kind in the region, in little more than a month, proves there’s more magic around than you can currently shake a wand at.

Maybe it’s a dividend of TV’s insatiable talent hunts, and this show certainly returns the compliment with a stage set and big screen backdrop that owes more than a little to television production values. In its clever, and tricky, combination of the folksy approach with the fantastical, it’s also as complete a variety entertainment as seen in some time.

The appeal of magic across ages, gender, culture and ethnicity was also evident in a near-capacity crowd within the ideal proportions of the Charter Theatre. Even the close-up routines are projected, for all to marvel at, on the big screen.

The Champions themselves may make a motley crew, but they share a charm and undoubted ability in their own individual skills.

International Stage Magician of The Year Edward Hilsum, for all his youth, has some of the old-style delivery of the largely-mute magician and also proves himself a young master of misdirection.

Mentalist Alex McAleer seems to mess around in the mind as much as Derren Brown and delivers the same astonishing personal facts back to members of the audience.

The near-legendary Fay Presto is not afraid to work the half-time audience, besides effortlessly serving up her take on seasoned magic ring or rope tricks.

Only a seasoned professional could sit at the stage edge and dumbfound one young fan, or baffle an entire family as she appears to plunge a bottle clear through dad’s chest.

The BIG tricks are saved to last, but come served in a spoof Las Vegas style, complete with a sultry silks performer, by grand if apparently guileless illusionists Young and Strange.

Theirs is actually a highly-sophisticated comedy double act delivered with faux naivety. It ends in a conjuring climax that will be seared on several retinas as well as memories... and left someone at Preston Guild Hall with a lot of Hoovering.

Champions Of Magic Review from The Sussex Newspaper

***** Five Stars

It’s as if the weather has joined in to help create the perfect atmosphere for the show this evening as, on a torrentially wet and very windy Saturday evening in Tunbridge Wells, we are all here to witness the opening night of the Champions of Magic UK Tour.

Technical issues prevent the show from starting on time but, once again, this simply helps to ramp up the atmosphere and the sense of tension in the audience but, once the show is underway, we soon see that the intricate nature of the tricks being performed, must require a huge amount of preparation and so the short wait is soon forgiven.

Opening the show is classic conjurer Edward Hilsum. Although now in his mid-twenties, I am sure that his boyish looks have him reaching for his ID in most pubs! His act offers a contemporary twist to the “traditional” magician’s act with handkerchiefs, candles and doves appearing at every opportunity and then disappearing again in the most baffling of ways.

Using a TV camera to help the huge audience see what is happening on stage, his sleight of hand trick “Silver” is nothing short of mesmerising and for us in the audience, and the one lady lucky enough to be sitting on stage right next to the action, a superb highlight of his act.

A few weeks before the tour started I was lucky enough to interview the second performer, mind-reader Alex McAleer. He completely stunned me then, but to see his full act in the grand setting of a thousand seat theatre, was, quite simply, mind blowing.

Whether his “victims” are with him on stage or half way back in the auditorium, his ability to “read” them is quite phenomenal and is so brilliant that, no matter what words I can think of to describe it, nothing I can say will prepare you for his stunningly scary powers. I am sure I am not the only one still asking myself, how does he do that?

I first witnessed Fay Presto’s close-up magic skills more years ago than either of us would care to accurately count (I am talking in excess of thirty here) and, like the very finest of wines, what started as near perfection has somehow improved even further with age.

She is, without doubt, one of the finest exponents of close-up table magic and her relaxed style, comic one-liners, consummate skill and endearing personality have, over the years, turned her into what many of the young children in the audience would easily regard as the coolest “Nan” that any of them could wish for.

The final performers on the bill are Grand Illusionists, Young and Strange. They perform the “big box” tricks for which they use a number of… you guessed it, big boxes. Each is used for a different and, as the act goes on, more impressive illusion, culmination in the biggest box of all – which contains a full sized metal industrial fan – just the sort of thing that you want to walk through in front of a, stunned into silence, family audience.

There is no doubt that magic holds a very special place in the world of entertainment. It’s performers, like the late, great, Paul Daniels earn a very special place in our hearts because, although we know that what we are seeing cannot possibly be happening, somehow it is.

The tour is now working it’s way around the country and I urge you to quickly get whatever tickets are still available because Champions of Magic is a show that has to be seen to be disbelieved!

Champions Of Magic Review from the Hampshire Chronicle

COMPLETING a 12-date UK tour this exciting show delighted a family matinee audience. Five very different and accomplished magicians create an eerie, puzzling and enormously enjoyable atmosphere.

Using professional film cameras to provide close-ups of the intricate tricks on overhead projection screens, adds depth and detail to the show. Young Edward Hilsum is a traditional, old-school performer with a smooth careful style. Fay Presto (get it? – groan!) specialises in some adroit close-up work. Making your brain ache with impressive mind reading is the astonishing Alex McAleer. With an engaging personality and some insightful audience member revelations, McAleer is similar to Derren Brown. Is he just a very smooth magician, a genuine mystical psychic or merely a clever conman?

Topping the bill is the charismatic double act Young and Strange. Their relationship as a duo is engaging and endearing, their chemistry developing successfully, and some of the tricks are genuinely sensational. Their act is slick and dramatic, many illusions bafflingly top-class. How did one of them shrink into a tiny box? How did their glamorous girl assistant completely disappear? And how did they walk through the spinning blades of a giant industrial fan?

Together with some shuddering pyrotechnics, spectacular lighting effects and atmospherically spooky stage fog, this is a wonderful magic show.

Champions Of Magic Review from York Press

Magic shows are curious things. Crowds pay to be skilfully duped and are happy to revel in perplexity so long as the methods behind the duping remain inexplicable under their keen, watchful eyes.

‘Champions of Magic’ managed this with spectacular regularity.

With a roster this esteemed, it was no surprise that incredulous gasps of ‘How did they do that?’ were commonplace amongst the eager crowd.

Edward Hilsum magicked some doves from thin air, Fay Presto baffled everybody into a stupor with just a newspaper and some string, Alex McAleer casually read minds, and one-time ‘Penn and Teller, Fool Us’ participants, Young and Strange, rounded off the show with grandeur.

Champions Of Magic Review from MagicAndMentalismReview.com

Champions of Magic is the summer blockbuster of magic shows, or at least aims to be- it is the Avengers of magicians. It is not your average, every day magic show (if there is such a thing), where you have to commit yourself to embracing one style, one skillset of magic. Instead, you are given four different magic shows in one, meshed together in an unforgettable night of wonderment.

The first of the magicians to kick off the show was a young magician with an old-school style, Edward Hilsum, conjuring doves with impressive flair. The magicians cycled their acts through the night, so we saw him again a few times over the course of the show, but one of the particularly impressive aspects of two of Hilsum’s three sets was his ability to remain captivating with a wordless act. In fact, his talent at maintaining attention meant that I did not even realize he hadn’t said a word until several minutes into the show!

Following Hilsum’s fist set was that of Alex McAleer, the mind-reader. I’ve reviewed McAleer here before, from his Edinburgh Fringe show. Here he had a much larger stage, and one he managed dominate impressively. Mind reading more than any other form of magic relies on audience participation and response, and McAleer undeniably had the personability and flair to make the crowd comfortable and increasingly eager to interact. Over his sets he wowed the audience with his skill at seemingly picking thoughts and images straight out of their minds, knowing everything from a card they were thinking of to unexpected personal details.

Fay Presto took the stage next, taking what initially seemed like it would be the most standard magic staple into a completely different, funny direction. Doing classic magic tricks can verge into boring the audience, I have learned, but she turned this potential around into something unexpected, a delightful turn of magic refusing to take itself too seriously. Presto particularly excelled when including children in her acts, her encouragement making them visibly increasingly confident with being onstage and involved.

The final part of this show was done by the magician duo Young & Strange. Their act coming last was a commendable choice, as they provided a burst of silly, snarky energy. While bordering on ridiculousness, the dedication of the two in playing off each other absolutely worked. Young & Strange were the epitome of a big finish, pulling out all the stops with huge intimidating mechanics, bright lights, a sweet story, and a glamorous assistant.

Champions Of Magic Review from The Student Rag

When baby-faced magician Edward Hilsum appeared on stage in Ayr we could have been forgiven for thinking we’d accidently wandered into the Gaiety Theatre’s crèche. But within seconds the young performer had the audience spellbound with his enthusiastic delivery of some proper old- school magic.

The traditional stuff might not be to everyone’s taste, but the beauty of this show is that it showcases a variety of styles – ensuring everyone’s a winner.

They don’t call it Champions of Magic for nothing you know! It all crackles along at a fair old pace, too, with Hilsum soon making way for mind-reader Alex McAleer – think Derren Brown’s better-looking but equally charismatic apprentice and you’re just about there.

McAleer steals the show with a mesmerising display of mentalism, culminating in him metaphorically ripping open an audience member’s brain in the name of entertainment. And entertaining it was too!

Fay Presto (gettit?) then rolls back the years with an act right out of the ‘traditional’ school of close-up magic. Presto’s appearance may prompt your brain to recall an eccentric great aunt, but having performed for both theatre royalty and the actual Queen, she’s guaranteed to have you hooked with a combination of quality trickery and vaguely-related anecdotes.

McAleer may steal the show, but it’s the part-magic, part-comedy pairing of (Richard) Young and (Sam) Strange who end it. The duo’s easy charm and boundless enthusiasm ensures there’s no let-up in the pace as the evening reaches a thrilling climax. But, I hear you ask, can Strange actually walk through a giant fan without being ripped to shreds by it’s rotating metal blades? Well, that’s for you to find out…

Champions of Magic Review from Mums In the Know

We were delighted to be invited along to the Champions of Magic adventurous autumn 2014 tour at The Watford Colosseum last night, read on for Mums in the Know Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted & Tring’s family review of the show.

Champions of Magic was an excellent mixture of the serious and the silly.  Each magician had their own style of entertainment, from showy Vegas and unnerving mind games to classic tricks and panto comedy.  While the jokes were a bit cheesy at times, it was a good giggle. Couple this with the fact that the illusions were always impressive, the whole show made for a great night out.

The organisers had the foresight in the intermission to provide entertainment for the kids with one of the performers doing close-up magic in the audience, and another meeting people in the foyer (a nice change from seeing your child disappear into your bag for your phone or tablet). From first hand experience, close-up magic can be even more exciting than the prospect of a trip to the ice-cream stand!

Some words of warning: get ready for some thrilling big bangs and flashes as the in-show fireworks are bound to have you jumping off your seat. You needn’t worry about being too scared to participate; they won’t ask you to do anything too embarrassing, it was all good fun.  The only downside I can mention was the (somewhat accidental – as they recovered quickly) use of mild expletives on two occasions, which could cause offence.

Overall, we really enjoyed the evening (as well as guessing how the tricks were done afterwards) and I would recommend it to any family with children aged 6 and up, or like us get a babysitter and have an entertaining adult evening!

Champions of Magic Review from ONinLondon

On Friday 21 November, Queens Theatre Hornchurch, I witnessed a mesmerising display of magic from five phenomenally talented entertainers, Edward Hilsum; Magic’s Latest Sensation offering us some good old fashioned magic tricks and producing five doves that were very well behaved if I may say so myself.

Alex McAleer; Master Mind Reader and an extremely funny man. Fay Presto; Queen of sleight of hand performing tricks right under spectators noses and even more cunningly in the palm of their hands and last but not Young & Strange; Grand Illusionists and dynamic duo, four words, RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT haha (insider joke).

The venue, only a stone’s throw from my home did the show proud with this flawless production. The show brought me right back to my childhood and fiery pyrotechnics and stunning lighting was a well-placed bonus. Great family entertainment and a pleasure to watch

Champions of Magic Press

 “So mind-boggling that I won’t even attempt to describe it” Wales Online

“Spectacular feats of mindreading, vanishing tricks and close-up magic will have you guessing for weeks” The List

“Not being a great fan of magic tricks I am not usually impressed by all that smoke and mirrors… In the space of a few seconds this world class illusionist had won me over” Wiltshire Times

“Amazing feats of mind-reading, breathtaking close-ups, daring illusions and a death-defying finale” Hertfordshire Mercury

“The West End troupe, made up of mind-blowing illusionists and magicians… perplex, astound and thrill their family audience” Gazette & Observer

“If you like your magic big, bold and baffling, this is the show for you” Biggin Hill News

“World-class illusionists... you will have to go to see what happens” Jersey Evening Post

“Spectacular family show... take a seat and prepare to be astounded, astonished and amazed” Heart FM

“Surprising the audience with tricks only your imagination could fulfil” Basingstoke Observer

“5 of the world’s finest magicians” Broadway World

“A great night of mystery that will leave you baffled” Birmingham Mail

“The ultimate circle of home-grown illusionists” Essential Surrey

“Champions Of Magic will leave you speechless” Surrey Advertiser

“Move over David Blaine, there’s a host of new magicians in town. With a live video feed, fiery pyrotechnics and stunning lighting, the show is an immersive experience in the art of magic” Western Mail

“It’s all kinds of magic – delivered by the experts” Western Morning News

“A night of mind blowing magic and mystery” Worcester News

“If you’re looking for something entirely different, how about leaving the theatre spellbound after Champions Of Magic” West Sussex County Times

“A must see” The Guildford Magazine

“The worldwide scene seems to be dominated by several famous names; David Blaine, Derren Brown, Dynamo and Harry Potter... until now. It’s time for the Champions Of Magic” ONIN London

“The UK’s top illusionists... fast becoming household names with their high energy and spectacular tricks... theirs is a pulse racing performance like no other” Hereford Times

“The UK’s top tricksters” Kentish Gazette

“A spectacular night of entertainment” Basingstoke Observer

“Stylish and unbelievable” The Packet

“A night of spectacular magic and illusion” West Briton

“A combination of elegant classics & cutting edge alternative magic” Cornish Guardian

“Some of the foremost magic performers” PirateFM

Champions of Magic Cuttings

Ayr Ayr Barnstaple Barrow Basingstoke Basingstoke Basingstoke Cardiff Cardiff Cardiff Colchester Colchester Crawley Crawley Darlington Dartford Dartford Fife Fife Greenock Greenock Guildford Harlow Harrogate Hayes Hereford Hereford Hereford Hornchurch Hornchurch Hornchurch Hull KingsLynn KingsLynn Kingston Leicester Reading Swansea Swansea Swindon Truro Truro Watford WomensMagazine York York