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J-Day 2009 Review

J-Day 2009 Reviewed by Megan Knowles-Bacon

Sunday 1st November 2009, 10 am, and finally the doors opened for J-day once again. The crowds rushed through the doors and straight up to the Devant room to view the wonderful choice of magic available from the Dealers (Kaymar Magic, Magic Cave and Magic Books by Post).

Half an hour later the theatre was full as the fun officially began. Mandy Davis welcomed everyone before Keith Churcher (the founder of J-day) took to the stage to present YMC with a mascot for the day – a cute little knitted magician, now named Richard in memory of Richard Stupple,who started our club in 1996.

Chris Capehart Lecture
The eagerly awaited lecture was given by Chris Capehart, a popular American magician. Chris worked the streets very successfully for fifteen years and he shared many extremely useful tips on how to do this. His tips included keeping tricks quick and fast to catch people, making people notice you by standing on something to raise you up, and making sure your magic engages everyone. He performed several sleek card tricks and a funny coin trick where he appeared to put a coin in his pocket but always had six left. My favourite however was his version of the Miser’s Dream where the coins ‘fell’ out of a spectator’s ears – and where children in the audience apparently wouldn’t stop throwing coins into the bucket. Chris’ lecture had a great mix of comedy, skill and performance techniques which I’m sure the audience found very amusing and useful.

The Mark Leveridge Close-Up Competition Finals
The first act was Daniel Burr who performed a variety of tricks including a haunted key, a vanishing pen and Jay Sankey’s In a Flash. It was great to see something other than card tricks in the competition.

Jordan Gregory presented a series of card tricks with them moving and sorting themselves invisibly, a double prediction and, finally. another chosen card was found trapped between two others. Jordan performed very calmly and confidently.

Jamie Longcake gave us a trick about the Aces being thieves, escaping the police magically from pile to pile one at a time and, eventually, vanishing altogether. He ended by spelling out chosen cards and ending up on each Ace. Jamie’s funny, confident personality really showed through well in his act.

Kevin McLoughlin showed his versions of Twisted Sisters and Guaranteed, followed by white Bikes. To finish he printed his prediction of the three cards chosen in Guaranteed using Blank. Kevin appeared very relaxed and his act was very skillfully and clearly presented.

Joe Strickland magically found the four Jacks, turned a bad poker hand into a very good one (and back again), transformed Jacks into Aces, invisibly palmed cards from his hand to the table and ended in a Coin Matrix with cards switching too. Joe’s act was skilful and well thought out.

Jack Volger performed  Colour Monte, humorously ending in a ‘you owe me card, Hot Rod and  a chosen card matching his prediction which had been in constant view. The youngest in the competition, Jack was really charming and confident.

Last year’s winner Carl Scutt then reprised his act which was confident and competent.

The Home Counties Junior Stage Competition
After lunch was the Home Counties Stage competition hosted by Kevin Doig. First on was Tom Wallace, who performed a very good floating cigar. He produced several items including roses, a bottle with liquid and fans. A rope trick and Miser’s Dream followed, finishing up with a snowstorm whilst levitating on a magic carpet – a very mystical and original act.

Jonathon Bray showed a large range of tricks including Dream Bags, a Dancing Cane, a colour changing D’lite routine and an eight foot wand production. Jonathon performed with great enthusiasm and confidence, clearly improved since the heats.

Nick Lee presented a comedy date themed act with a male audience member as his girlfriend. He produced many items from his ‘date-o-matic’ mirror  plus champagne from silks and a cake from a dove pan. He performed all his well-themed tricks in a unique and comical way.

Thomas Dodson performed a classical silent act in a modern way. He produced parasols and silks, did some great billiard ball manipulations and a Linking Rings routine. His act was very elegant and his engaging personality showed throughout his act.

Patrick Gibson took the audience to his granddad’s basement to see him perform Dancing Butterflies, some funny mind control and mentalist tricks (whilst wearing a very silly hat) and a very magical transportation of water from a tube of newspaper to a glass. Paddy’s act was very funny and original.

Daniel Shears demonstrated some excellent facial expressions and acting  whilst performing a Torch to Rose, freaky moving amputated hand, Zombie Ball, Twisting Head illusion and Linking Rings.

Tom Anderson comically escaped repeatedly from chains, pinned a spectator’s chosen card to a dart board in a card stab style routine and closed by redeeming himself as he named a previously chosen and miscalled card on a DVD. Tom was confident, funny and clear in his act.
Last year’s winner Edward Hilsum – “Mr Widest Biggest Smile” – reprised his very polished Dove act with the same enthusiasm as always

An Audience with Max Somerset
After another short break Brian Sibley interviewed Max Somerset. Max talked about the Sorcerers Apprentice show, his influences as a young boy and the importance of creating a persona which suits you. Max’s persona is traditional on the outside but strange and quirky on the inside. He describes himself as an ‘unusualist’. He also gave us an insight into how he starts to create his numerous innovative tricks, explaining his theory of creating an internal logic for the audience to buy into. Max then talked about the pressures of TV magic, such as having to learn tricks extremely quickly. The audience got the chance to ask questions, discovering that his favourite trick is ‘Max Somerset’s Big Band Production’ and his favourite big stunt is a routine involving going apple bobbing and his head being cut off in a guillotine!

Awards Ceremony
Next up was the long awaited awards ceremony. In the Mark Leveridge Close-up competition the winner was Jamie Longcake; 2nd Joe Strickland and 3rd Kevin McLoughlin. The winner of the Home Counties Stage competition was Thomas Dodson, 2nd Patrick Gibson and 3rd Daniel Shears. The Kaymar Komedy Cup was awarded to Jamie Longcake/ The YMC Member of the Year was Thomas Dodson and Patrick Gibson won the Pete McCahon Originality Award.
Presentations were also made to Tracey Mullis, the building manager, and the catering team of Dawn Miller, Christine Knowles-Bacon and Steve Bacon.

Gala Show
To end an amazing day of magic came the spectacular gala show, compered by Neil Henry. Michael Jordan showed his YMOTY winning act, including his beautiful renditions of Pavel’s Walking Knot and a snowstorm. Chris Capehart performed a witty card trick where the prediction changed to match the chosen card, an escape from thumb cuffs, and a brilliant floating table. Duncan Trillo showed some card manipulations (which had wonderful musicality), a smooth Linking Rings routine and a cute Dancing Hanky. The grand finale came from Max Somerset who performed his ‘Human Fruit Machine’ – dressing three  audience members with drums and funny hats to resemble the machine. He revealed their chosen fruits by opening each drum to allow the fruit to cascade out and cover the stage.

J-day 2009 was an amazing day and everyone went home smiling, looking forward to next year!

Megan Knowles-Bacon is currently a member of YMC and has been one since she was ten years old. Her magic has seen her win many accolades in competitions including those at her local club, the Bexleyheath Society, as well as both stage and close up at J-Day. She was recently placed second in The Magic Circle’s Young Magician of the Year. Megan has studied at the Sorcerers’ Safari camp in Canada and next year is hoping to represent the UK in the SAM Stars of Tomorrow show.

J-Day is the annual convention for The Young Magicians Club, and is open only to members, if you are aged between 10 and 18 you can find out more information about joining at – www.theyoungmagiciansclub.com