Blackpool Gala Show 2007
25th February 2007
Report and photos by Mandy Davis
star-studded gala show was compered by Adrian Walsh who, I understand, is an
acclaimed after-dinner speaker.
The first two acts had appeared as guest artistes during the marathon Competition the night before. Sos & Victoria Petrosyan produced fire from fingertips and performed several quick-changes as well as illusions which was in contrast to their previous dancing cane act.
Die Zauderer were also completely different but just as zany as they’d been the first time. They produced large bananas, one of which ticked like a bomb. There was a type of synchronised Torn and Restored Newspaper which was never quite as expected with lots of fun and imaginative happenings along the way. Eventually two papers were restored with a flash of fire whilst the third actually caught fire – to be restored in a very charred state! When put together the three newspapers became one large one which was then folded into a paper boat before the three guys ‘sailed’ off stage.
Jerome Helfenstein provided a novel Shadow act which had been brought up to date. Some shadows became real items and some were white on black instead of the usual combination. There was a fun sequence when lines on the screen became first the strings of an instrument and then bars of music.
Shimshi performed card manipulations with both normal and giant cards and brought a spectator onto the stage for a card trick which climaxed when a somersault caused the card to attach itself to Shimshi’s shoe from a deck suspended in the air. There was a lot of high-energy dancing and a cutting-in-thirds illusion.
Mark Metral was a huge hit with the audience – a ventriloquist with some very different characters. The first was a microphone which sang a duet with him whilst various birds popped their heads out of boxes to contribute to the fun. There was a lion too and then a sequence using four members of the audience as the puppets. Finally Mark made a puppet from his handkerchief to prove that he could make anything talk.
Juliana Chen closed the first half and her exquisite mask and manipulation act really inspired the audience. Both fans and single cards appeared and vanished rapidly, proving her to be a real expert in this type of performance.
The second half opened with the black art act of Omar Pasha. This is always beautiful and magical with floating tables, a rope which stood up straight and dancing flames which parted from the tops of candles to move on their own. The appearance of an assistant was admirable and he held out his cutlass for Omar to stand on its edge. Now blindfolded, the assistant’s head was cut off and put in his hand before all was restored. A girl also appeared and changed places with the male assistant before both were vanished and Omar himself disappeared to leave an empty stage.
Nester Hato is a manipulator with a difference. His cards appear and disappear with flashes of light and sprays of confetti, all performed to the beat of a drum. There were fans and single cards, flashes of fire and silks of various colours influencing the colours of the cards. When using a red silk, his tie and glasses also changed colour but the greatest surprise was the white silk which changed all these things to white – as well as Nester’s bright red hair!
Frank Truong was an illusionist who seemed to enjoy performing one style of magic only. Each resulted in some form of spikes penetrating a girl in a box or a frame. First it was spikes dropping down from a height, followed by a sub trunk. Then it was large scimitar blades which came at her sideways and resulted in two girls emerging from where one had been. The last one had spikes on a separate piece of apparatus that was pushed forward to penetrate the box which had originally held Frank but was shown empty whilst he was revealed as the second robed assistant on stage.
Losander peformed a short dancing cane sequence with a tall stick which had a fire globe on its top. Then his well-known and beautiful bubble effects came to the fore as he changed them into a rose or a crystal ball. There was a ‘zombie bubble’ too. A dancing Hankie was next and he finished this very pretty set with his famous floating table, always a mystery when it is suddenly realised that the volunteer from the audience is working it alone!
The finale was Greg Frewin with his award-winning dove act. The doves, however, were very restless which was a shame and rather spoiled the effects. He opened with a dove from a catapult which was truly amazing and he continued with doves from knots on a rope, juggling balls to doves and even doves from a sword! Once the cage was full he swiftly vanished it to leave a girl standing in its place – everything was done at top speed with great precision – shame the doves weren’t comfortable with it.
This had been a good gala show with different highlights for different people – for me it will always be Juliana Chen for sheer beauty of magic and Die Zauderer for their wonderfully imaginative comedy. What were yours?
Sos & Victoria Petrosyan
© Mandy Davis, March 2007