Dean Metcalfe, 3rd July 2019
I promised to write a post about the event at The Cube in Birmingham last Wednesday evening (26th) and here it is.
As a magician, Birmingham is not new to me. But The Cube was a new venue – and I have to say I was very impressed. I was invited by Aston Business School to perform cabaret magic for a group of business people. The function was held in Canalside, The Cube’s dedicated events venue.
The thing with corporate magic is that it’s not really a “thing” at all. It’s just magic performed at a corporate or business event. The type of magic performed can take many forms. More often than not, however, magicians at corporate events are asked to perform close-up magic and I do a lot of that myself. But it’s always refreshing when I’m asked to perform stage magic at such events and when the call came from Aston University, I was absolutely delighted, not least because it meant I would get to perform magic with Claudine.
And what a great evening it was!
The evening began with a meal and some enlightening talks from some very clever people. Over 100 people from small and medium sized businesses were there and the theme for the evening was business innovation. You can read more about it here. One thing I took away from the evening was that it’s so refreshing to see so many people striving to make their business the best and that there are many people willing and able to help them.
As a magician, one thing you quickly learn is that rarely does anything go exactly to plan. Some things you can try to prepare for, others just, well, come out of the blue. Now, this evening, there were two obstacles to overcome, both of which fell into the “we’ll just have to get on with it” category.
Firstly, a couple of days before the event, I started feeling unwell. I had developed a very sore throat and got an infection in both of my eyes. Just great, I thought. I can barely see and can hardly talk. That’s going to go down really well with the audience. “Who is this guy?!”, they’ll ask. Or maybe they’ll think it’s part of some kind of weird, dark magic act. Either way, it wasn’t good news. Fortunately, a good dose of Ibuprofen (as recommended by my amazing assistant Claudine) reduced the inflammation and pain enough to allow me to perform on stage. I still didn’t feel 100% but, nonetheless, I couldn’t wait to get on with the magic.
Secondly, before Claudine and I were due to hit the stage, a group of bongo bangers did a raucous 8 minute set that rightly received an equally raucous reception from the audience. I apologise if bongo bangers isn’t the right term but it does seem highly appropriate. Anyway, that left Claudine and I thinking “How on earth do we follow that?“. In the end, we consoled ourselves with the knowledge that what we lacked in noise, we more than made up for in beautiful magical artistry. We’ll just carry on and do what we do best.
The time soon came for us to get up on stage and wow the audience. I like to think that our cabaret magic performance is up there with the best. It is classy, artistic and beautifully visual in a way I believe few other magicians can match. Moreover, it’s been refined over the 30+ years I’ve been working my magic. The setting is our own too and we bring our own music, backdrops and lighting to the show. It’s great after-dinner entertainment.
So, with the bongo drums a distant memory and with the Ibuprofen working well, we started our performance, buoyed by the warm reception we received from the audience.
We gave a varied performance lasting around 35 minutes, beginning with a short talk about the different styles of stage magic, then a few tricks including some that are powerful and innovative. At an evening devoted to innovation, here I am demonstrating my own kind of innovation!
Things were really quite theatrical now, as our stage shows always are. Our custom designed lighting and music worked wonderfully and the audience were clearly appreciative of what they were seeing. It all came together nicely to create a great atmosphere. And after adding lots of different touches to our act, we brought it to a close with one of our all-time classic illusions that involves Claudine being cut into several pieces. She really doesn’t mind though. Honest! And she somehow still manages to pull herself together ready for the next show.
And another new venue in Birmingham.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and, to my mind, nicely demonstrated how stage magic has a place at corporate events. Sure, close-up does too, but it can’t compete with stage magic when it comes to beautiful, classy and highly visual entertainment.
It was a marvellous performance which everyone enjoyed, Absolutely magically fantastic – thank you very much. I would definitely, highly recommend you to anyone who wants to host a celebratory event.
Prof. Nicholas Theodorakopoulos BSc, MBA, PhD
Head of Work & Organisational Psychology Dept, Aston Business School Birmingham