December’s issue of MAGIC magazine has an article written by yours truly on my dear friends Murray Hatfield and Teresa Midbo. I sure hope it reads like I am semi intelligent. If it does it’s because of another dear friend, Donovan Deschner who was kind enough to read, reread, edit and criticize my scribbling.
For twenty years now, Murray Hatfield has headed an international cast of magicians on tour across Canada, trouping across the country in a memorable bus. Shawn Farquhar captured the feel of the tour in his story, “It’s All About the Bus! The Untold Story of Canada’s Largest Touring Magic Show.” Here’s an excerpt:
Murray Hatfield recalls the year when, after a particularly bad snowstorm, a young magician was waiting at the loading dock of the theater in Hamilton, Ontario. “He had come with shovel in hand to help dig out the driveway, so the truck could load the gear into the theater. Afterward, this young magician asked if he could submit a video of his act for consideration.” Murray gave him a ticket to the show and later watched the video on the bus. The video was amazing and, two years later, he was booked. That young magician’s name? Greg Frewin.
Riding together [on the tour bus] can be both a good idea and bad. If Murray and Teresa pick the wrong personalities and the people don’t bond, then the tour could be a nightmare. Tensions can run high. One sure way to break tensions is to pull practical jokes. Murray learned this from Marty Putz, who in the first year had created quite a few special moments. Marty says, “I was as relentless as they were patient. Murray once screamed in fright when I jumped out of what was supposed to be an empty illusion. Another time I switched places with one of his assistants and walked out onstage, carrying his props and looking like Fred Flintstone in drag.”
Murray does have rules about the practical jokes, though. “Don’t mess up a guest act. Don’t affect the magical integrity of a routine. And never screw with a ballad.” As long as the audience isn’t aware and it doesn’t negatively affect the show, it’s all good. To maintain the integrity of the show, Murray even designates visits to certain cities, such as Ottawa and Victoria, as joke days. Some audience members have become aware of this and deliberately buy tickets for those shows, just to watch the fun.
Peter Boulanger of Tesseract Acrobatics recalls that the highlight of their first tour was seeing Greg Frewin trying out a new profession as a conga star. As Peter remembers it, “Jamahl Keyes, Nathan Burton’s assistant, did a Dancing Cane bit to a conga song. I hit on the idea of doing a conga line during his act. Greg offered to lead, so we did it for one show. Not bad, but Greg kept screwing up his feet. He was determined to redeem himself, so he practiced until, with considerable concentration, he could get it more or less right. Once again, we lined up in the wings. Sarah, one of Murray’s dancers, said, ‘I’ll count you into it. Remember, take big steps. Five, six, seven, eight — and let’s go.’ Greg, focused mightily, started congaing onto the stage, while the rest of us watched his solo from the wings. He got halfway across before he noticed that he was alone.”
Murray recalls that night clearly: “Greg was the consummate professional. Realizing he was on his own, he committed to finishing the dance and continued across the stage with all the finesse he could muster.”
Murray Hatfield’s Magic ’n Miracles tour for 2008-2009 can be seen in the following cities: Mississauga, Ontario (Nov. 22-23); Markham, Ontario (24); London, Ontario (25); Kitchner, Ontario (26); Oshawa, Ontario (27); St. Catharines, Ontario (28); Hamilton, Ontario (29); Toronto, Ontario (Dec. 2); Barrie, Ontario (3); Etobicoke, Ontario (6-7); North York, Ontario (10); Kingston, Ontario (11); Brockville, Ontario (12); Ottawa, Ontario (13-14); Calgary, Alberta (27); Edmonton, Alberta (28); Kelowna, B.C. (30); Winnipeg, Manitoba (Jan. 2); Abbotsford, B.C. (5); Vancouver, B.C. (6); Nanaimo, B.C. (7); Victoria, B.C. (8); Surrey, B.C. (9-10); Burnaby, B.C. (11-12).
Oh for those of you who voted in the last poll. My Father was the third guy to the left in the funny white cap with his nickname written on the brim…