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Magic of a circus without a big top 

 

Illusionist Michael Boyd… “You think you know what’s happening, but suddenly your jaw is dropping.”

MAGIC and circus – they’re closely related but, since one is big and one is intimate, they’re rarely seen in the one show. 

Now master illusionist Michael Boyd brings them on stage together using illusions, dramatic presentations and his own quirky personal touches in a magic show with a difference, coming to the Canberra Theatre for one day only in January.

“Circus of Illusion”, unsurprisingly billed as “a truly magical experience,” is set to bring the spectacle of death-defying escapes, illusions, mime and magic, with world-class artists available now because covid has brought them back to Australia. 

When I catch up with Boyd, he tells me how magic is a family thing. Not only was his grandfather, Stanley Boyd, a magician – his discovery of this at age 13 led him to join the Young Magicians Magic School in Melbourne – but his great-grandfather was “The Great Vulcan”, who worked at the Waxworks in St Kilda.

Boyd who, as a teen, fine-tuned his skills in shows at fetes, birthday parties and nursing homes and went on to mount big shows at casinos, cruise ships and become a finalist in “Australia’s Got Talent”, loves magic and circus in equal measure and says: “I’m combining these two into a family show, but the thing I love most is illusion.”

So far, he reports, there have been a wide range of audiences with grandparents and grandchildren and sophisticated adults enjoying the shows.

For him, showbiz and magic are in the blood. He’s absorbed himself in the history of silent movies with their live piano players and the picture showmen who toured the country in the old days, showing movies wherever they could.

Boyd has had a lucky year, as he’s been touring his company Boyd Productions’ other show, “Cabaret de Paris”, with Rhonda Burchmore and managed to avoid covid lockdowns in several states.

In another lucky twist of fate, in part because of covid, he’s been able to get the best circus acts into his show, with artists from companies such as Cirque du Soleil who would normally be performing all over the world now desperate to get back in front of an audience.

So, the show goes on with showgirls levitating, disappearing and flying, Perth duo Cameo Rascale doing acrobatics, comedy, balancing and juggling, and a giant “teeter board” act drawing gasps. “It’s an old act but it involves a lot of skill,” he says.

Like most artists, Boyd gets coy when you ask about the precise details of his illusions, but talks about an escape from some deadly plates that fall on him.

“You think you know what’s happening, but suddenly your jaw is dropping,” he says.

And he reveals that as well as the glitz, the mind-blowing acts and the sequins, they’ll have some audience members coming on stage in a more intimate moment of interaction. 

But the big difference between “Circus of Illusion” and most other circuses is that it takes place in a theatre.

“Our backdrop is a striped wall, like you’re inside a tent under lots of lightbulbs. It allows the space to look massive and it brings back the sawdust and magic effect that I saw when I was a child,” Boyd says.

“Circus of Illusion,” Canberra Theatre, 2pm and 7pm, Sunday, January 16. Book at canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.

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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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