In a neighbourhood where the main export is its colourful characters, it fits that my character Norvil hit Hollywood for a week to share his whimsical magic act at the world famous Magic Castle. For those not in the know, The Magic Castle is a legendary magic hotspot and members-only night club at the foot of the Hollywood hills.
Every week of the year a new gaggle of magicians (someone please tell me in the comments below what’s the collective noun for magicians) descends on the place to perform in the Magic Castle’s assortment of quirky bars, lounges and theatres all dedicated to live magic performance. In fact, in the theatre right next to mine in the Castle, my friend Romany was performing her own beautiful twenty minutes of wonder every night as well. The week swept us both off our feet. We just managed to find time for a photo call on the red carpet. Just.
Before work began, I started the trip as the ultimate tourist. I shook off the jet lag with a hike up the hills to a little-known landmark that overlooks tinsel town below. That was followed the next day by a walking tour of the incredible Vaudeville theatres up and down Broadway (thanks L.A. Conservancy!). After my weekend induction efforts, I was ready to settle down and prepare for the week of shows ahead…
My job was to perform three shows a night in the Magic Castle’s Parlour of Prestidigitation – a 60-seat Victorian style salon of magic. It kicked off magically, as you’d rightly expect. (But to explain why, we need a quick rewind to my childhood. My very first magic book was ‘Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic’. I studied it cover to cover and back again. Mark was the first superstar American television magician back in the 1960s and out of that came his book which still today is a go-to book for starting magicians. There were fascinating photos all through the book including those of his son Greg who toured with and performed in their show.)
Time warp back to 2018, the Magic Castle’s Parlour programme is split between an early show (that was Norvil) and a late show. As magic would have it, the late show in my theatre was with Greg Wilson himself. I also met his parents Nani and Mark, the magical couple I’d so admired as a kid. There couldn’t have been a more magical surprise than that to start off my week.
Ever since the end of last year when the Castle booking came through, I’d been honing Norvil’s act to form a twenty minute version to perform at The Magic Castle. My idea was to have Norvil lead the audience through a theatrically whimsical journey of magic woven with storytelling and music. I marked off the stage size in my studio to make sure everything fit and would work perfectly in the Parlour. I dreamed. I built things. I built them better. I practiced. Before long, I was there doing it. Et voila!
It was an unforgettable nonstop week and an absolute delight to take Norvil to The Magic Castle. I send a huge thanks to everyone who has been a part of the adventure both before and during like Romany, Patricia Magicia, Paco, Butzi, Jeff McBride, Christian Cagigal, Richard McDougall, Eugene Burger, Greg Wilson, Ira Seidenstein and Psyche Stott. And here’s to more adventures!