There was a lot of excitement about Chairman's Day and with good cause. Roger had arranged for our good friends over at Bradford Magic Circle to provide the entertainment for the afternoon and we weren't about to be disappointed. Craig, Donald and no doubt a few conscripted helpers had prepared our new Light and Sound system so that the huge cast from BMC would get the best production we could offer.
After a few parish notices and apologies from members unable to get there, Roger handed over to the Compere for the day, Dennis Calvert. Dennis is a natural comedian with a string of 'one- liners' and a playful character who has graced many a dinner and show during his time at Bradford. After a few groan inducing gags Brian would have been proud (as well as scribbling furiously!) Dennis brought on Bradford's current President, Steve Gore to open the show. Billed as the 'happiest magician on the planet', ('Google' it if you don't believe him) Steve gave us a glimpse of his very accomplished stage routine with a sliding knot, a self-solving Rubik's cube and a clever newspaper prediction before closing with one of his own creations, 'Visons of Vegas' which is a very workable book test that looks like real mind reading.
Colin Gough has a laid back style that makes the audience relax. His soft, story-telling approach gently brings the audience along for a great ride with a knot that jumped, a square circle, a colour changing die that gave a few in the audience something to think about and a nice rope segment that had knots hopping on and off the ends of the rope with great abandon. His closing sucker die box left the audience in stiches, and while there may have been a few hiccoughs, Colin was such a nice character that he was more than forgiven.
'Stevie B', aka Steve Bellerby, is a Life Member of Bradford. He's a big character with a ready wit and a sideways look at life. Among other things, Steve introduced us to the concept of 'Limertricks' and I suspect from its reception he may well have just started a new genre of magic. The idea is to use all the 'stuff' we all hoard in our cupboards and drawers that rarely see the light of day. A simple trick set to a limerick made something short and 'throwaway' into a solid piece of entertainment. It was good to see 'The Hole Card' presented with such enthusiasm; it's a much underused effect but in the right hands, as it was with Steve, it can be a real gem. Steve closed with a very expert egg bag presentation which stunned the volunteer on more than one occasion. A great finish to a great first half.
After the break and the raffle, where most of Bradford seemed to walk off with the prizes, Dennis introduced 'The Great Gordino', a relatively new member to Bradford but an accomplished entertainer none the less. His five card repeat was a great lesson in storytelling as was his very engaging 'magic washing line' and the strange but true illusion of water vanishing. Gordino closed with a blendo effect with a 'four seasons' story to bring it to a worthy climax.
Rory Kunz, another young and relatively new member at Bradford, broke the mould with a very engaging mentalism set; from a 'divined' star sign to a diary effect with a playing card revelation at the volunteer's birthday and a big finish with a multiple revelation that had lots of hidden layers and an impossible outcome. A very creditable performance.
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In some ways, it would be easy to say that Simon Hannah had drawn the short straw. He was last on and he was a children's entertainer at a show with no children, which may have unsettled a less experienced performer. Simon went down a storm as we all became children again for 15 minutes. He's a very much larger than life character with a great act which you could easily imagine would keep hordes of kids screaming and shouting for hours. His interactions with, of all things, his sound system which on occasion took on a life of its own, to a balloon dog piece which had everyone in stitches, was a real joy. It was an irony not lost on any of us to see Paul Guy on the receiving end for a change as many of the touches that Paul brings to his own acts were boldly and colourfully on display here. Many will be aware of Axtell's parrot, Verne but I don't think I have seen it in much better hands than with Simon. The lack of children didn't dim his performance and his closing 'illusion' segment where he cut Rocky Racoon in two was hilarious.
We had a great afternoon and Ian Brown, himself a former member of Bradford, paid great tribute to them for such wonderful entertainment. Special thanks went to Steve Hord, their own 'tech guy', for his hard work too. Well, the bar has been set and it's time to reciprocate when we return the favour by putting on a show for them in August. Wish us luck!
It's worth mentioning that during the afternoon the newly framed photos commemorating Mo Howarth were on display and they certainly generated a lot of interest. But to top a great afternoon's entertainment, it was heartening to see Norman Greenhalgh walk through the door looking so fit and well after his illness. He's still recuperating but he said he had had a brilliant afternoon, adding that most of the props used by the members of Bradford were probably in his loft just waiting for him to be given clearance to climb up and get them. We owe Mick Carcione a debt of gratitude for bringing him along to enjoy the afternoon. Cheers Mick, it was much appreciated.
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