By Stephen Dafoe
Article contains video content
Morinville – The middle of a jungle might seem like a strange place to find a magician, but that is precisely where approximately 50 local children met Edmonton magician Brian Lehr Tuesday afternoon. Well, figuratively at least.
Dressed in khaki pants and a safari hat, the popular children’s performer delighted his audience with a jungle-themed magic show, generating the same magical reaction he has created in Morinville on two previous occasions.
But the children weren’t the only ones pleased to see the magician back in town. Isabelle Cramp, manager of the Morinville Public Library, was also pleased to book Lehr for a return engagement.
“We like to bring Brian in to do a show for us for the summer reading program because he is entertaining, but he also teaches them a lot of things at the same time,” Cramp said.
As in previous years, Lehr tied his magic act to the Toronto Dominion Summer Reading Program theme. The end result, which the magician said took a month to write and choreograph, is a nearly hour-long performance that transports his audience on a figurative journey to the jungle. Along the way, individual volunteers get to help Lehr perform a magical fairy tale, catch invisible rain from the rain forest and even destroy a perfectly-serviceable hiking boot. Fortunately for the audience member, the latter is magically restored to its original condition.
Lehr said the show process begins with determining what direction he wants to take with the show’s theme, as well as what educational elements he wants to communicate to his audience. From there, the magician assembles a collection of tricks and effects to reinforce the various elements of the magic show.
“They usually do have a central message; however, this year we’re taking a different turn,” Lehr said. “Last year’s theme was of course character education and everything was centred on that. This year, rather than have a strong educational element about jungles and so on, I just wanted to have a fun show, allowing them to have an adventure in the jungle.”
But while Lehr designed the show to be fun from front to back, interspersed among the laughs and applause were plenty of facts on jungles and an underlying message on the importance of libraries.
“Libraries are extremely important,” Lehr said. “I started doing magic 30 years ago because my sister bought me a book for Christmas. I still have that book, amazingly. Over the years I’ve read a lot of library books and other books that have helped get me on my journey to becoming a full time magician. Because of the impact of books upon my life, I want to impress that upon children as well. Whether it’s magic or something else; they can learn so many areas of life, simply by going to a library. Doesn’t matter if you are out of school or still in school – there are so many areas of our life that we can become more familiar with simply by picking up a good book and availing ourselves of that.”
The magician is booked to perform at 42 Alberta libraries this summer. The Morinville performance marks about one third of the way through the tour.
For more information on Brian Lehr, visit his website here.
In this video segment magician Brian Lehr and eight-year old volunteer assistant Katie Campbell act out a fairy tale with some magical results.