Melbourne has long been known as the mecca of magic in the Southern Hemisphere, but did you know that, in addition to events like The Melbourne Magic Festival, we have an ongoing history of dedicated theatres specialising in magic?
The 1970s to 1990s in Melbourne
Though we have had close-up magicians and kids show magicians performing in restaurants like The Pancake Parlour and strolling performers entertaining the crowds in nightclubs like Inflation, it wasn’t until the establishment of Babushka in 1981 (later known as Merlin’s House of Magic) that diners could enjoy a magic themed dining experience complete with close-up magic at your table between courses. This golden age of close-up magic continued until 1986 and employed some of Melbourne’s top magicians including Barry Govan, Ian Baxter, Tim Ellis and many more.
It wasn’t until 1991 with the establishment of Sunday Showcases (which ran monthly until 1998), that the magicians of Melbourne had a regular venue where they could perform and develop new material together.
2005 to 2015 in Melbourne
Magic Mondays at Dante’s in Fitzroy emerged as a spin-off of The Magic Shop in Southbank with a regular family show the first Monday of every month. Glenn Hamilton, Dean Atkinson, Anthony DeMasi and more were regular performers.
Around 2011 The Variety Collective emerged as a WEEKLY showcase of magic and variety performers. Staged at The Brunswick Green, The Penny Black and several other venues, this adults only cavalcade of chaos was conceived and produced by Nicholas J Johnson, Sarah Jones, El Kirschbaum and Tom. The strain of producing a different show every week was too much, and the final Variety Collective was held in December 2014.
It was eventually turned into a TV series for Channel 31 called The Catchpenny Club, and you can watch some episodes online by CLICKING HERE.
In 2012, after Magic Mondays ended, Dom Chambers and Bayden Hammond picked up the wand and conjured Top Hat Tuesdays, a brand new monthly show (but definitely not family friendly) at The 86 in Collingwood. This epic undertaking continued until December 2018 culminating in a massive show starring everyone who was anyone in magic.
Also in the 2000s, I don’t have exact dates but I know it was happening in 2008, Nick Morton hosted Mitcham Magic every fourth Monday of the month at the Mitcham RSL.
2015 and beyond in Melbourne
In 2016, Luke Hocking opened his weekly, solo show Impossible Occurrences at The Marriott Hotel in Melbourne, and it’s been running with two shows nightly ever since!
In 2017, Tim Ellis opened his weekly solo show Pure Magic at Australia’s first custom-built magic venue, The Laneway Theatre. Read a review of Pure Magic here. Tim went on to produce a brand new 90 minute show ever year and his latest creation, The Magic Box, opens tomorrow night.
From 2017 to 2021, Nicholas J Johnson produced the monthly group magic show Sleight Night at The Laneway Theatre. This very popular show featured three different magicians each month, hosted by Nicholas himself. This show evolved into (or maybe from) The Best of The Magic Fest, which was a staple of The Melbourne Magic Festival. Read a review of the very first Sleight Night here.
Next month, the evolution of Sleight Night continues with For My Next Trick… with Tim Ellis, David Jones, Chi Han Yeo, and Lawrence Leung.
From 2019 to 2021, Sam Angelico and Rosanna produced Illusionaire, a weekly, family magic show that was staged at both Mission to Seafarers and The Atheneaum Theatre.
Last year Anthony DeMasi staged the first of his unique brand of shows, Magic Party, at his venue, The Magic School of Confidence. More are scheduled for 2024.
And of course, The Australian Institute of Magic continues to produce their monthly Magicians At Work shows, where established and emerging artists try out their brand new material in front of an audience at Arts Centre Melbourne.
Magic in Sydney
Since 2010, Sydney has had long running Stage Magic Show called The Magicians Cabaret. Currently in Pyrmont it offers dinner and a show.
Bruce Glen offers an intimate Parlour Magic Show called A Magical Soiree every Friday and Saturday night in Sir Stamford on Circular Quay.
Also on Friday and Saturdays, Harry Milas offers a Close Up Magic show call The Unfair Advantage, staged in the very unique location of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout.
Magic in Adelaide
Last year, Raymond Crowe established his own magic theatre called The Wonder Emporium. This beautiful venue only seats 20 and sells out almost as soon as tickets go on sale.
The Adelaide Magic Theatre was also created last year, and is hosted in the CBD at a venue called The Lost Dice. Produced by Sam King, it’s a pop-up theatre presenting shows all throughout the year. They have six different shows starting next month for Adelaide Fringe.
Magic in Brisbane
One of the first long running magic shows in Queensland was actually in Cairns, where Sam Powers had a long residency (over 2000 shows) in The Reef Hotel Casino with his own solo show, XTREME ILLUSIONS. The showroom was later used by Ben Murphy for about three months, before becoming disused.
Matt Hollywood has been running a weekly Stage Magic Show at Sanctuary Cove called Illusions. This year, it has moved to a new home on Cavill Lane in Surfer’s Paradise.
Last year, Christopher Wayne, Joshua Norbido and Kerry Domann teamed up to created Brisbane’s Theatre of Magic. Shows are a combination of Close-Up and Stage Magic and happen every Friday and Saturday night at The Treasury Hotel, Brisbane.
This article is specifically dealing with established, dedicated magic venues in Australia. But we haven’t even touched on the Australian shows that are constantly touring the country! Maho Magic Bar, Cosentino The Grand Illusionist, Anthony Street, Metaverse of Magic, The Greatest Magic Show, Adult’s Only Magic Show, The Purple Rabbit, The Illusionists (created in Australia!) and so many more!
To find out what’s on in magic, CLICK HERE AND READ OUR CALENDAR. And if you know of an event not listed, drop us a note and we’ll pop it in!