the winchester

Overflowing with magic

I am completely overjoyed by the response we've had to Magic at the Winchester. In the last month we've even had a couple of shows which wound up being standing-room only. Thanks to those who have come out to support the show and to the many performers who are making the show possible.

We'll be continuing at the Winchester into the foreseeable future but we're also launching a new show.

In just under two weeks, we will be starting Magic@theCage. The Cage is a nightclub located at College & Spadina near the University of Toronto Campus while performers in the main room work in − you guessed it − a cage, there is a smaller more intimate lounge which is perfectly suited to magic. The show will follow the same format which has worked so well for The Winchester and you'll recognize many of the performers. So now there will be an option for a little bit of magic in the middle of the week.


Tickets are on sale through the Abracadabaret site with special early-bird tickets available for the weeks leading up to the show.


Magic at the Winchester

As I've written previously, Abracadabaret (formerly Friday Night Magic) used to be a weekly show in downtown Toronto. Over the past five years we've presented a variety of special events and a number of different venues, but scattered throughout the year. After arriving at the Winchester earlier this year for a short run of Lies, Damn Lies & Magic Tricks, we began offering a monthly show. Now, we're formally declaring The Winchester in Cabbagetown our new home and we'll be presenting a weekly show every Sunday night at 7:00

Tyler Wilson Stephen Minch

The Winchester is perfect for a magic show. Their stage has remarkable sound and lighting for a venue that size, there is free parking on the street, the menu is wonderful and it has just the right amount of magical weirdness: it features fireplaces in the middle of the walls, extra high ceilings which hold strange mysteries and the iconic Canadian magician Doug Henning used to live in the neighbourhood - there is even a small floral garden commemorating him around the corner!

As we did in years past, we will rotate through our favourite performers so that every show is different, and guests are free to come back as often as they like. To sweeten the deal, The Winchester has included a complimentary dinner buffet along with any ticket purchase (you'll still have to pay for your drinks, and you can still order off the regular menu... which is superb). We've also added discounts for groups purchasing tickets online, and additional discounts for groups of five or more.

Rob Testa

To kick off the new series this Sunday (October 20) I'll be teaming up with the lovely and charming Rob Testa. I worked with Rob most recently on the Wendy's Canada #ExpectToBeAmazed online ad campaign. There were a lot of magicians on the set, but Rob was certainly the funniest and most personable on camera. His shows are extremely energetic, exciting and entertaining. I'm looking forward to being on stage with him this weekend.

I've received a few calls this week from people asking if the show is appropriate for children. That's a tough question to answer. While the show is certainly not designed for children, there's nothing particularly mature or offensive involved. We say officially that the show is not recommended for children under twelve, although we've had plenty of eight and nine year olds pass through over the years who have been perfectly delighted. So maybe kids are more mature than we give them credit for. I'm not sure.

Currently, we've signed on to perform weekly through the end of 2013, although we hope to continue that into 2014. If you're in the Toronto area, we'd love to see you at one of our shows. Come join us for an amazing night of magic.

Magic at the Winchester

We are also always looking to expand our roster of performers. The details are available at Those are interested are welcome to contact me for the password.

Taller Tales

More photos from Illusions of Grandeur, the strange and special show I did with Tyler Wilson last weekend. Thanks to Chris Mayhew for these. The show was an amazing experience. Now I have to turn my attention to two major upcoming projects this one and this one... it's going to be a busy month.

September Abracadabaret

The September instalment of Abracadabaret is coming up this weekend: Sunday, September 29 at the Winchester. The show starts at 7:00 with tickets available online or at the door. AbracadabaretWinchester Logo

I'm off that night, leaving the performance to three extremely capable individuals:

Nick is a gifted 'practitioner of the art of astonishment'. I've been a devoted fan of his work for years. He has been a fixture at the Hamilton Fringe festival, where I performed last year, winning Best in Fringe multiple times. He produces magnificent shows that are elegant and minimalist while at the same time being extremely enjoyable and making your brain hurt. Honestly, I've been trying to get him on one of the shows for years!

Jason has appeared at Abracadabaret and Friday Night Magic several times. He's an extremely funny and energetic comedy magician. I describe him the way Watterson described a tiger: He has no setting between high and off

He is also the winner of the Canadian Event Industry's Entertainer of the Year award.

Chris arrived on Toronto's magic doorstep three years ago after leaving his native Calgary. When he showed up, he had a note pinned to the front of his shirt which read

Please take good care of Chris. If you give him a fresh deck of cards, a selection of Thai restaurants and good wifi, he won't leave you.

And he never has!

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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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On the next Abracadabaret (Part 2)

This Saturday, I'll be at The Winchester in Cabbagetown performing at the monthly Abracadabaret. I mentioned Keith Brown would be joining us but we also have a rather unique guest. I'm slightly hesitant to call him our most unique act ever... but only slightly. Making his debut at Abracadabaret on August 25 is The Great Mustachio!


Mustachio (no relation to Joe Culpepper), originally from the United States, was stolen by Italian bandits during a family vacation to Southern Italy. He grew up tough and fast in the alleys of Naples where he learned to make a living performing street magic in his teens. He now performs sleight-of-hand in casinos, cabarets and class joints all over the world.


Or so says his publicist.

Join us for an amazing night of great magic (and possibly a small amount of silliness) and great food.

Sunday, August 25 - 7:00 PM The Wincheseter Tickets  |  Directions  |  Information