HEY presto! Illusionists from around the world are set to magically appear in the borough.
The South Tyneside International Magic Festival is returning for its 12th year.
The week-long event, which runs from March 9, will include a series of performances in schools across the borough, along with a Family Magic Extravaganza and two Gala Shows at the Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields.
The festival is organised and run each year by South Tyneside Council.
Children’s magician Russ Brown is travelling to the festival from his home in Blackpool.
The performer found his love for magic at the age of five, when he received his first magic set as a gift.
He was the resident children’s entertainer at the world-famous Blackpool Tower for more than 10 years before leaving to take up residency in his own venue at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
He said: “This will be my first time at this festival and I’m really looking forward to it. A lot of my friends are going to it as well. These events are a great way to make friends and it’s brilliant to be able to share your routines and ideas with each other.
“You could be stuck on a routine for ages and after a quick chat with someone, know exactly how to end it.”
Russ will be performing at the festival’s Family Magic Extravaganza.
He said: “I do loads of kids stuff and prefer performing for children.
“When you do magic for adults, you can pretty much tell what they’re going to say and do, but not with kids.
“I had a kid up on stage a while ago and asked him which animal he’d like me to make him out of a balloon. He said a toaster.
“I couldn’t believe it, and after the show, his mum came up to me and said he collects toasters and his room is covered in them.
“I knew I wanted to be a magician as soon as I got my first magic set. It’s been tough but I feel very lucky that I get to do this every day.”
Comedy magician The Great Nardini is also looking forward to visiting the festival.
Glaswegian Paul Nardini, who performs alongside his wife, Mhairi, has travelled the world with his comedy magic act.
He said: “I was at the convention a couple of years ago and I loved it. It’s such a great place to visit.
“I go to lots of different conventions but this one is a really friendly one and the smaller ones really give you a chance to relax more and chat to more people.”
Paul will perform at the second International Gala Show.
He added: “Our act is a comedy one, it’s what’s known as a cod act. It’s sort of Tommy Cooper-esque. It’s myself and my wife, and I act as a bumbling idiot and she keeps me right.
“It’s a silent act to music. I don’t speak at all during it. It would break the illusion of it a bit if I started talking in a Glaswegian accent.
“The modern day way to describe my acts to the kids would be a ‘fail’.”
Liverpool-based double act Diamond and Jade have been travelling the world since 1989 and are excited about returning to South Tyneside.
Michael Diamond, who formed the act, said: “I visited the festival very briefly one year, just for one day, but we’re coming for the whole weekend this time.
“We’re going to be doing a big illusions act. Myself and my assistant, Katie, will be bringing big up-to-date stuff from Las Vegas, and we’re bringing something that’s never been seen before – we’ll be performing it live for the first time.
“We have those traditional illusions with a bit of a comedy twist too.”
The duo will be performing at the first International Gala Show.
Michael added: “We’re really excited to debut our new trick, and the great thing about this convention is that we’ll get reaction from both sides.
“South Tyneside is probably the one convention where you have as many magic fans as magicians sat in the audience so it’ll be great to get feedback about our trick from both sides.”
n To find out more about the magic festival, go to www.southtyneside.info/magicfestival.