The History of Magic Week
In 1986 Magic Unlimited produced a ‘Festival of Magic’ at the Caulfield Arts Centre featuring shows from Tim Ellis, Duck Cameron, Terry McSweeney, Elio Simonetti and Andrew Gill. The event was hugely successful and proved that the public had an appetite for magical entertainment.
In October that year, the festival formed the basis for the first Magic Week. This 10 day set out to promote public awareness of magic and to showcase some of our Melbourne’s marvelous magicians. It clearly demonstrated to the public that magic wasn’t just children’s entertainment, therefore creating a new market for magicians in the corporate arena.
The first week featured 10 major activities including ‘The Ultimate Magic Show’ at the Palais starring Doug Tremlett, Terry Dansic assisted by Christine Hutchinson, Super Hubert, Sam Angelico, Ricki Ozimo, Ray Crowe, Duck Cameron, Tim Ellis, and Harry Houdidn’t – quite a line-up! Tim also produced a mini-magic convention called ‘The Halloween Hop’ over the first weekend of Magic Week.
With a trio of PR mad magicians appearing on TV, radio, and everywhere in the press, (Duck Cameron even leapt handcuffed into the Yarra River!)
Magic Week #1 still cost Tim over $10,000. But it was well worth it.
To promote Magic Week 87, Tim drove a $100,000 Mercedes Benz while blindfolded. The car was driven around the carpark of Westfield’s Doncaster Shoppingtown with radio personality Darren James riding nervously beside Tim.
The incredible Tom Ogden was brought out from the US as a special guest, and Magic Week held a magic competition which saw the successful competitor (Ricky Ozimo) win a week’s engagement at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, performing alongside Tim and Tom Ogden.
Other highlight’s included Tim’s new magic show ‘Illusion – The Ultimate Fantasy’ at the Caulfield Arts Centre, ‘The Ultimate Magic Show 2’ at The Athenaeum Theatre, and dozens of magicians performing in all manner of venues all over Melbourne.
Magic Week based itself back at the Caulfield Arts Centre where Tim was buried alive on national TV to promote the event.
Over 100 shows were performed including ‘The Ultimate Magic Show 3’
Magic Week 89 hit the headlines with Tim’s infamous Yarra River Trunk Escape, where he was chained and locked inside a wooden trunk and lowered by crane into the murky depths of the Yarra River, Melbourne. The fact that there was zero visibility in the water hadn’t occurred to Tim in training. A shiver of panic shot through his body when the muddy waters rose around him but, in seconds, he focussed on the job at hand and thankfully escaped unharmed.
Tim also escaped from a straitjacket 100′ high above Melbourne’s CBD. Once again there were dozens of performances of magic taking place all throughout the week including shows at the Comedy Cafe, in the front window of the Virgin Megastore, on city railways stations for the MET, and the Victorian Arts Centre hosted the inaugral ‘Magic Funday Sunday’ which was a massive success.
The 1990 Magic Week program included repeats of last year’s hits like the ‘Magic Funday Sunday’ at the Victorian Arts Centre and ‘Magic on the Met’, but also included a whole season of different shows at the Atheneaum Theatre, a Close Up Magic Festival at the Prince Patrick Hotel, and a Halloween Night Magic Party.
This is the year that Magic Week went national with events being staged all over Australia including:
- NSW: Children’s Day in the Park in Newcastle, Family Magic Show at Marrickville Town Hall.
- TAS: Royal Hobart Show with a magic theme and special guest acts.
- WA: Peter J Shield headlining a magic show at the Burswood Casino.
- QLD: Dave Lord with a special escape, a Halloween Dinner at Circus Circus.
- SA: A Magic Week opening in the Mall, exhibits in the Performing Arts Museum and the State Library, shows in the Festival Centre, and a Halloween Night party.
This year’s Melbourne events were sponsored by and mostly held at Melbourne Central. The CBD centre had spectacular shows daily including a special Halloween night tribute to Houdini.
Other events took place around Melbourne including the Magic Funday Sunday at the Victorian Arts Centre and ‘The Mega Magic Show’ at The Melbourne Concert Hall.
Around Australia Perth was busy with events including ‘Magic in the Malls’, Sydney had the show ‘Houdini Lives On’ and the Darling Harbour Magic Weekend, Adelaide held a Magic Conference, and there were over a hundred other shows Australia-wide.
Magic Week was starting to lose momentum as other festivals started to emerge in October.
A blindfold walk was stage in Melbourne to promote the shows on the Swanston St Walk stage, and the Funday Sunday returned to the Victorian Arts Centre. The highlight this year was the very first Magic Week Halloween Ball.
Perth was very busy with events including ‘Magic in the Malls’ and a Blindfold Drive, Sydney staged its ‘Houdini Lives On’ show and the Darling Harbour Magic Weekend, and again there were many other smaller shows throughout the nation.
Magic Week #8 was a great hit with the ‘Festival of Family Magic’ and the hugely successful Halloween Ball combining magic with fashions. To help promote the week’s events Graham Etherington ever performed the legendary ‘Catching a bullet in the teeth’.
The final Magic Week. Magic had come full cycle and the excitement and support for the event had diminished considerably.
It was a Melbourne only event this year with Tim Ellis staging his 2 hour show ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ at the Darebin Arts Centre, along with the Funday Sunday, The Magic Unlimited Course in Magic, a Magic Jam Session, and the Halloween Ball.