Archive | August, 2012

Before he disappears….

27 Aug

Kelly Wong as Harry Houdini in Ragtime. Photo by David Cooper.

As September approaches, it is time to catch up on those things we didn’t quite get to during the summer. High on David Ben’s list (David is the Artistic Director of Magicana) is seeing Ragtime at the Shaw Festival.

Though David is a huge fan of the original work, having seen it at its world premiere in Toronto some years ago, he is an even greater fan of the musical as developed and presented by the magical team at the Shaw Festival.

David had a first-hand glimpse during pre-produciton as he was retained to coach Kelly Wong, the actor who plays “Houdini”, prepare for the role. Jackie Maxwell, director of Ragtime, expanded Houdini’s role for this particular production, and it pays off in spades.

Kelly approached Houdini with the same sort of dedication and focus that the master mystifier would have displayed himself. Kelly was given several challenging tasks including escaping from a straight jacket while hanging upside-down, while singing – something that not even Houdini had the courage to attempt (singing, that is!).

All in all, Ragtime is truly an ensemble piece presented by some of the finest actors, musicians and designers, and in one of the most beautiful settings – Niagara-on-the-Lake – anywhere in the world.

Be sure to catch Ragtime, before it disappears!

Shaw Festival 2012


FESTIVAL THEATRE | April 10 – October 14
@Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

Summer Wrap Up for My Magic Hands at Bloorview

24 Aug

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We just finished yet another round of My Magic Hands at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation and we are proud to say, that as always, it was an amazing experience for both our instructors, volunteers and participants!

We had a particularly big and lively group this time round, the last group before summer ends. We are so proud of our junior magicians and of their magic coaches as  they carried out their performances for The Big Show. The hard work and dedication each participant contributed, clearly showed in the delivery of their magic tricks and scripts, along with the help and generosity that their magic coaches graciously gave them.

This wraps up our ninth year of summer sessions at Holland Bloorview–and we’re proud  to say, that we had a great and unforgettable summer learning and teaching magic and wonder, and look forward to our fall session.

Magicana brings MIRTH and MAGIC to the MS Summer Camp!

23 Aug

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Last week, on August 14, James Alan visited the MS Summer Camp to deliver a bewitching magic show for their campers–a show so satisfying that Andria Samis, the Senior Coordinator of MS Society Canada said,

“On behalf of the MS Society of Canada and all the campers and their families, I would like to express a heartfelt thank you for your support of the 2012 MS Summer Camp. Your help in facilitating a magic show (…) was much appreciated and the show proved to be a camp highlight! James was punctual, professional and definitely provided a ‘wow’ factor for the campers. There was lots of laughter and amazement in the room that night.”

We are so pleased the campers enjoyed the show!

The MS Summer Camp is a great opportunity for children and teens with MS to get together in the beautiful banks of Big Rideau Lake and enjoy a summer full of challenges and events. Additionally, the camp’s amazing staff offer support and friendship while encouraging new learning experiences. The camp’s main purpose is to create an environment for its participants wherein they can ” enjoy a break from the stress associated with MS”.

Here at Magicana, we are more than happy to provide a great outlet for learning and entertainment through magic, which is why we were thrilled to work with the MS Summer Camp. We hope we created an unforgettable night of magic and excitement for the campers!

Big Brothers, Big Sisters AND BIG MAGIC!

20 Aug

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Magicana held a magic day camp for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto this past Weekend, Saturday, August 18.

We salut the BBBST’s philosophy of mentoring and its life-changing effects to empower and motivate youth to reach their full potential.  The mandate of My Magic Hands has always been to use magic as a metaphor in problem-solving and creative thinking while, building self-confidence and self-esteem.

As a result, we find that our volunteers, or “magic coaches”, really are the secret ingredient in success for  participants as they learn magic feats throughout the day. The one-on-one attention, focus and encouragement is educational but most of all the bonding that is built between Bigs and Littles is what this day was all about.

Congratulations to all our participants and to their Bigs for sharing wonder with their Littles!

Magicana Donates Ibidem to PCAM

3 Aug

Congratulations to the success of the PCAM (Pacific Coast Association of Magicians) convention earlier this month, August 2 to 5 at the Sea-Tac Marriott in Seattle, Washington. In order to continue exploring and sharing the art of magic, Magicana donated Ibidem: The Complete Set for the PCAM raffle.

This valuable collection was made famous by unforgettable contributors and the creative crew of Howard Lyons. Ibidem (1955-1979) was a magic periodical edited by Toronto’s P. Howard Lyons. It quickly gained reputation in the magic community as the number one source for modern card feats, close-up magic and dazzling illustrations. Each cover was individually silk screened by artist Pat Patterson and contained amazing tricks and illustrations. Notable contributors included: Ed Marlo, Stewart James, The Amazing Randi, Norm Houghton, Martin Gardner and Fawcett Ross.

For more information on how to purchase Ibidem: The Complete Set, click here.

The Wonder Behind the Magic

1 Aug

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We like to view My Magic Hands as a communal effort, for the successful delivery of each session – especially at Holland Bloorview where the program’s fulfillment depends on the generosity of our sponsors and the dedication of  volunteers, therapists and participants.

As we’ve come to learn over the years, the beauty of magic lies in its flexibility and versatility. Since partnering with Holland Bloorview, we have observed how magic affects young adults in many ways. It has helped them regain confidence, become more vibrant, and practice control and discipline in order to perform their tricks effortlessly and with the confidence of a performer.  A thriving example of the benefits our workshops reap is the Helping Hands camp we have facilitated over the past three  summers.

What makes this program unique is that it is a modified constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) for clients with hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) secondary to an acquired brain injury or stroke. Participants are required to wear a splint or cast on their non-affected hand. They then engage in activities that promote the functional use of their hemiplegic arm and hand – such as magic!

Helping Hands aims to promote the use of each participant’s affected upper extremity through individually selected activities targeting specific movements and upper extremity function. Magic becomes a great tool as it can simultaneously challenge students to use their hemiplegic side while achieving the thrill of “getting” the magic trick to work. It can be a slow and laborious effort for the clients to try and hit each of the meticulous movements with their less dominant hand–but they do so because of the greater goal to “get” the trick. For an instructor, it can bring tears to one’s eyes!

The program is run by an interdisciplinary team of staff (occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, physiotherapists and social workers) and volunteers. Magicana is brought in to provide the magic component inside the existing frame work of the camp and leads the lesson in magic. What is wonderful is the near one-to-one support that each client receives at Holland Bloorview. We refer to the staff and volunteers present as the client’s ‘magic coach’ which shifts their perspective on the entire experience. Needless to say, it is a very heartwarming experience to see success in the smiles of both our clients and their magic coach.

Helping Hands is truly a program that requires group effort, and we would not have been able to deliver as efficiently as we did if it wasn’t for our magic coaches, our dedicated volunteers who generously donated so much of their time and hard work. Thank you to the recent round of volunteers / magic coaches who volunteered their time to be with these amazing clients: Sinthia, Maggie, Nicholas, Sarah and Pinky – the true wonders behind the magic!

We hope the therapeutic advantages of magic continue with each of our graduates, and may wonder be shared to other members of our community!

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