“London Calling!” The Magic Circle Gala Show

Greetings from Las Vegas!

Jeff McBride teaching card magicJeff and Abbi are just back from London (more about that below), and off to a weekend making magic and music with the String Cheese Incident at Horning’s Hideout up in Oregon. The great “World Tour of 2005” continues!

Realize this is from my perspective, and I’ve only heard it second hand. If we’re lucky, we may get Abbi to write from a more personal perspective in a couple of weeks. (Digression – we’ve just heard that Richard Kaufman will run Abbi’s write-up of the Spanish Convention in Bilbao last month in the October issue of Genii, along with photos. Don’t miss it!)

First, Jeff and Abbi’s flights were all on time, and they arrived safely at Gatwick airport about 10:00am on Friday morning, July 22nd. They had left their home in Las Vegas about 9am the previous day, and so were a bit tired upon arrival.

Unfortunately the driver sent to meet them got lost, and their first job on arrival was to find a taxi big enough to hold them and their luggage – not an easy job if you’ve seen the number of cases they have to travel with when doing multiple events, as they were. This international touring is definitely not for wimps!

Fortunately, there was nothing else pressing on their schedules that day. The following day, however, was a killer. There was a special luncheon for the teen members of the Magic Circle, at which Jeff and the other celebrities attending were to sign autographs. Immediately following this were the all afternoon technical rehearsals for the gala show that evening, the centerpiece of the Magic Circle’s Centennial Celebration. Rehearsals finished just in time for the show itself to begin. In an unusual twist, Jeff, who is generally hired to close this kind of a gala, was asked by producer John Fisher to open the evening. He wanted to kick off what promised to be a rather long show with something that would really wake up the crowd – and of course, Jeff delivered just that. Later in the show he came back and roused them all again with his “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” miser’s dream routine. After the show, John wrote me:

“Incidentally, Jeff was phenomenal both on the show and during rehearsals (he’ll explain the latter).”

I haven’t heard the story about the rehearsals yet – Jeff and I were only able to manage about one hour of time in between his return from London and leaving for Oregon, and we had a lot of business to cover!

In any event, following the busy celebration day, Jeff and Abbi had a day off to enjoy London. The following morning, though, the BBC sent a car to pick him up and whisk him off to do their “Midweek” radio talk show, talking about the celebration at the Magic Circle, and, even more, about his upcoming appearance at the London Science Museum. You can actually hear this show online by going to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/midweek.shtml and clicking the “Listen Again” button to hear the most recent week’s show!

After the BBC show, the car whisked Jeff back to his hotel to prepare for his sold-out lecture, sponsored by The Magic Circle. James Fortune, who organized the lecture on behalf of The Magic Circle, wrote me afterwards: “Everyone who was there said that the one-and-a-half hour lecture was one of the best they’d seen at TMC and, indeed, Jeff received a standing ovation at the end. Quite rightly.” James went WAY out of his way to make this a successful event for all, and we send him our sincere thanks.

For most folks, the Magic Circle gala, lecture and BBC appearance would have been enough for one short trip – but Jeff has twice the energy of most of us, so at this point he and Abbi were only halfway through the events of their week in London. The next morning found them back at The Magic Circle for a video taping session for Asahi TV, from Japan, who was making a special about the centennial celebration, and wanted Jeff’s act as a part of the show. All went well, and we’re looking forward to seeing the video they got. I understand the show will air (only in Japan) later this year. This was the only “business” event of the day, so they were free to see friends and sight-see for the rest of the day.

The following day, July 27th, was the day of Jeff’s interview and performance at the Dana Center, a part of the London Science Museum, with Professor Richard Wiseman and Dr. Gustav Kuhn, in which the three explored the psychology of magic and perception, and the “science of showmanship.” The event was sold out well in advance, and from all reports was a huge success. Jeff was so excited about it that we are now exploring ways of bringing the event to the US. More about that in a later issue! Oh…if you’d like to read a really fascinating article interviewing Professor Wiseman on the subjects that were covered in this event, check this out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4726547.stm

At the Dana CenterThe 29th was a Friday, next to last day in London, and, like so many of the rest, jammed full! Jeff started at noon, teaching his first of two “Secret Session” workshops, to some 17 students in the small theatre at the Magic Circle. At 6pm he and Abbi had to pack up fast and run back over to the Dana Center for that evening’s edition of the show/interview with Professors Wiseman and Kuhn…again sold out.

The following day was for packing up and conducting the second “Secret Session,” again filled to capacity with 17 students. The day was apparently a success, as we’ve already begun hearing from some of the students about coming to Vegas to take one of our upcoming master classes.

So…that’s the story of Jeff and Abbi’s London adventure – at least from my long-distance point of view.

We do hope you’re enjoying our ongoing series of Muse letters. Let us know if there’s other information you’d like to see, or have any other ideas we might use to improve them. And don’t forget to tell your friends to sign up for our future editions. Much as we like keeping certain secrets – this is one we’d love to have more people know about.

We send our magical best wishes to all of you, and hope to see you soon, in Las Vegas or one of the many other parts of the world our travels take us to!

Tobias Beckwith
McBride Management

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