illusions of grandeur

Last week on Magic Tonight

Last week on Magic Tonight, we had two new guest performers, never before seen on the show. Ryan Brown is a sleight of hand manipulator, which requires countless hours of practice locked inside a room, which explains his lack of a tan. He's the winner of the "Toronto's Best Magician Contest" and also "Mississauga's Got Talent". How someone can win both is a mystery that legal scholars will continue to debate for centuries.

Zack Mirza is the star of Illusions of Grandeur* which is currently airing on CityTV. The audience had the chance to see what he could do up close and personal.

Thank you to everyone who attended our sold out shows this weekend. This week's shows are already sold out (again, thank you). We've opened up a block of new shows and tickets are now available for dates through the end of November. Readers of this blog can use the code reality for a discount when booking online.

If you didn't get a chance to see the show, take a tiny peek at what you missed:

*Which has nothing to do with our show Illusions of Grandeur from 2013. Our title made more sense but Zack and I have kissed** and made up.

**Metaphorically speaking. I don't think he's into that sort of thing. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This week on Magic Tonight

School's back and we're back. We had shows in Toronto over the summer, but this week, Magic Tonight returns to the Franklin House in Streetsville — a wonderfully historic and genuinely haunted venue — on Thursday nights. Our first show back with Ryan Brown is already sold out. Ryan is a sleight of hand manipulator who has been recognized in recent years with the Toronto's Best Magician Award, first place in Mississauga's Got Talent (how he can be eligible for both without moving has baffled the greatest legal minds in the country) and the Len Cooper Memorial Award.

And this Sunday, at the Crimson Lounge in Toronto, we have the star of Illusions of Grandeur, the new television magic series currently airing Friday nights on CityTV, Zack Mirza. This show has a very limited number of seats remaining.

Tickets for all of our upcoming shows are available online. Readers of this blog can use the code reality for a discount on the price of tickets and dinner when purchasing online.

September 17 Ryan Brown - Sold Out

September 20 Zack Mirza

Winchester Retrospective

We recently had to pack up our show, Magic at The Winchester Stage and Bar and switch to a new location. To my incredible relief, the transition was seamless (with tremendous thanks to the staff at The Cage for making it possible to pull that off)! Since we moved over, many people have contacted me to let me know how much they enjoyed the Winchester and our events there, so I put together a tiny retrospective. Really, it's just my favourite photos from the archive I've been keeping, but I actually got to counting, and we did thirty events there in various formats over the past fourteen months. So thank you to everyone that came out to support us there and I hope we'll continue to see you going forward.

The photos come from various people (including members of the audience) and are of varying quality. Enjoy!

We are continuing to perform every Sunday night at The Crimson Lounge inside of The Cage 292 (map). Information and tickets are available at

Tall Tales

This weekend, I finished the first round of shows for Illusions of Grandeur with my friend, Tyler Wilson. The goal was to create a true close-up magic show, instead of a show on stage that people had to watch from a distance. The worst seat in the house was 12 feet away from the "stage". The feedback we've received so far has been extraordinary. Tyler and I would like to thank everyone who was able to make it out. Putting together the show was an amazing experience. We had to assemble and script everything by email and there were several of Tyler's in the show that even I didn't even have the chance to see until the day before when Tyler arrived in Toronto.

At the moment, we don't have any concrete plans to remount the show anywhere, but I've spoken with Tyler and it's not entirely off the table... so keep an eye open for the possibility.

Here is the first round of photos from the show:

These are just the iPhone photos. The Abracadabaret elf, Chris Mayhew, is busily working on the nice ones. 

Rogers: Daytime Toronto

My appearance on Rogers Daytime Toronto discussing the upcoming Illusions of Grandeur with Tyler Wilson at The Winchester

Related Posts

About Illusions of Grandeur - Read A Tall Order

Photos from Illusions of Grandeur - Read Tall Tales and Taller Tales

James Alan's YouTube Chanel

A Tall Order

I seem to lead a delightfully charmed life. Every once in a while, I seem to get an email or a phone call from a friend, often out of the blue, with a request to work on a strange or unusual project. (Actually that seems to be happening quite a bit lately, so there should be some more stuff appearing here as soon as I'm allowed to talk about it.) Tyler Wilson

Earlier in the summer, my friend, fellow Canadian magician and fellow tall person (he's 6'5 or 5'17 in the US) contacted me about doing a show. Tyler used to live in Toronto a few years ago before winding himself up in England and Spain before finally finding his way home to Calgary. He's not only a very clever and creative magician, and extremely funny in a zany-off-the-wall sort of way, he's also knows more about the history of magic (in particular close-up magic) than just about anyone I've ever met.

His project was really interesting: he wanted to do a close-up show. Close up magic is possibly the strongest form of magic. There is an immediacy and intensity that comes with magic that happens feet and inches away from you. If you watch magic on stage, you could be dozens of meters away and if you watch magic on a screen, much of the impact gets lost  – as I found out personally, listening to people talk about my recent appearance in a string of Wendy's ads.

I perform a ton of close up magic, but usually in a very unstructured way - what gets called strolling magic or mingling magic - at parties. But there it's a kind of Blitzkrieg approach, trying to show as many people magic in as short a time as possible. It's a great deal of fun and is very memorable, but it leaves the people who truly appreciate magic and want to see more feeling slightly shortchanged.

The main challenge is in economies of scale (rather lack of scale) - it's hard to have a successful show that only happens for a dozen people at a time. Historically, close-up magic has been forced into larger and larger rooms. I've attended (and competed in) magic contests that had close-up divisions in front of hundreds of people.

So for fun's sake, we've decided to put on a true close-up show: Illusions of Grandeur. We'll do the same ~50 minute show six times over two nights. Each seating will be strictly limited to fifteen people. As Tyler originally proposed it, this will be a micro-drama where we attempt to outdo, outperform and outbadass each other. (Apparently in Calgary, to outbadass is a real verb... or so Tyler tells me.) We're going to have tons of fun and we'll both be premiering some brand new material. We'll be at the Winchester, which has generously allowed us to rearrange their furniture to create our little close-up palace of mystery. The shows are separated by two hours so you're more than welcome to come early, stay late and/or enjoy some food and drink to go along with the show.

For even more fun's sake, we've added VIP seats, for the exorbitant surcharge of 3 cents. What exactly VIP treatment gets you; that's for us to know and you to find out. Hope to see you there.

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