This past Sat, I had the pleasure of having my first experience performing behind a bar at the swanky Bar 84 in Gallery Hotel. I was a “Special Guest Performer” as co-owners Fukumoto and Hashi (also resident magician) put it.
Since 1993, I have worked almost every performing environment imaginable. Like many “workers”, if you chalk up enough time, you would have worked the the entire spectrum of performing venues.
So, when Hashi was looking for a slot to be filled, I was jokingly asked to fill in. I saw it as an opportunity for fun and to have a new experience! As long as an extra zero was added behind my cheque, I was good! haha!
But, the point was to actually prove to myself that the fundamentals of solid structure, plots, execution and communication can be transplanted in a “new” environment. I just did two of my “Beyond the Mirror” showcases this past week. Coupled with my daily close-up rehearsals, I was very close-up geared. Unlike this week, which is back to illusions on stage.
So, I adapted several of my professional routines from “Beyond the Mirror” as well as new pieces I actually designed and modified for the bar performance.
I have been to Bar 84 many times before as a patron so was familiar with the setting and crowd. I instituted change in my first show by changing the black close-up mat with my casino green one. Hashi has since requested to change the mat permanently.
I did put a lot of thought into this act. The bar environment is unique and there are many aspects of the venue that can be taken advantage for to create a superior performance. While many magicians take routines from their regular close-up or walk around acts, my show was custom adapted for the bar.
I had an array of “theatrical devices” that I knew would work for the bar and even custom made a special tool. (Can’t really say what it is in an open blog like this).
My opener was actually a brand new piece that I developed for Ning & myself to perform as a duo. I have no name for it as of yet, so will give it the working title of “The Olives” for now.
It is my 3rd interpretation of the classic “Cups & Balls” routine but completely different in structure, technical handling, presentation and finish. It is completely different from the routine I use in my formal close-up show. This act covers all the issues I raised in “Cups & Balls – Does it Have A Place in Today’s Modern Magic Repertoire?” and it went over with the live audience spectacularly!
Other routines that I performed included a stand-up version of my “Nut, Bolt & Rope” routines as well as a bar-version of “The Morgan Mysteries”. For people who know what “The Morgan Mysteries” entail, you would probably be scratching your heads to how that could be done for the bar!
I closed the act with a routine also from “Beyond the Mirror” – “The Linking Finger Rings Through Glass Table”. This is a version of the routine that I developed for the season finale for “M for Magic”.
I think I performed a total of 7 shows through the night and received great response including a standing ovation. One large group recognized me and was thrilled to learn that I would be performing… even after I told them it would be twice the show price!
A few regulars remarked that it was the loudest and most energy felt in the bar ever. That is mainly due to the my performance style and encouragement for the audience to be boisterous. But ultimately, and most importantly, the bar owners were very happy and had loads of positive feedback from patrons.
Several friends came by the bar to see me work… (maybe secretly wondering if I would bomb! haha)
It was a fun night!