By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Singers, actors, orchestras, jugglers, dancers and bands have all traipsed the Morinville Community Cultural Centre’s stage over the past 19 months, each deemed magical by those who enjoyed the performances. But this weekend for the first time since opening, the cultural centre will raise the curtain on a show that can literally be deemed magical. Outerbridge: Clockwork Mysteries is a stage illusion show featuring Ted and Marion Outerbridge that will appear Mar. 15 and disappear the same evening.
This is not the run-of-the-mill birds, bunnies and cards stuff Morinville families may have seen at local libraries and festivals. It is a full on, larger-than-life illusion show, the likes of which once travelled the country with great regularity but is now seldom seen.
Ted Outerbridge, who has been called Canada’s most successful professional magician, feels strongly that the experience of wonder should come from the heart and not a magic store catalogue. He and Marion Outerbridge, his partner on and off the stage, draw the inspiration for their stage magic from their day-to-day lives. Their 105-minute production is made up of custom designed, engineered and built magic illusions that are unique thanks to the efforts of a team of talented behind the scenes assistants.
Interview with Illusionist Ted Outerbridge
Morinville News: Over the past decade there seems to be a trend in magic towards the street magic of performers like David Blaine and Criss Angel. What your show offers is the larger-than-life stage show that audiences seldom get to see these days. What can Morinville expect from your show?
Ted Outerbridge: Outerbridge: Clockwork Mysteries is a high-energy magical adventure for both adult and family audiences. It is a combination of grand illusion and smaller interactive pieces of magic. Marion climbs into an elaborate Victorian time machine and she travels back to the 1960s. If all goes well I bring her back to the present. Our audience will witness all kinds of incredible illusions such as levitation, A Divided Lady [that] I perform under test conditions; audience members are holding Marion’s head and legs while I divide her into two pieces. And Greta the psychic Goose will be reading minds.
Our performance is very interactive so the audience will be part of the show; spectators from the audience will be assisting on stage and will participate in predicting the contents of a time capsule amongst other things.
MN: You’ve said in past interviews you are an actor playing the part of a magician. Actors are involved in unfolding a story for their audience. What is the story at the heart of this stage show?
TO: Outerbridge: Clockwork Mysteries opens with a burglar who is about to steal the time. I try to prevent this from happening but it is not possible – the burglar vanishes with an hourglass… nobody can stop the time from disappearing.
Our lives are ruled by time and our performance is about taking the time to smell the roses… it’s about celebrating moments in time that everyone can relate to. Topics include a favourite television game show, a child’s favourite running shoe, everyone’s desire to travel back in time and change the past, a childhood bond with a stuffed animal which becomes “real”, wishing that we could predict the future and our desire to race against time and do what we must do by a certain deadline.
The ultimate goal of the performance is to have the time of our lives with our audience and that is what we do every time we step onstage.
MN: Joining you in the show is your wife and partner, Marion, an accomplished dancer with a degree in ballet. What do you feel dance adds to the spectacle and flow of the show?
TO: Marion’s dancing sets the tone for many pieces in our show and adds beauty and feeling to our art. For example, our levitation illusion is called Tango Flotante. It is based on a passionate encounter between a man and woman in a restaurant in Argentina. It was inspired by the people, the music, and the passion of Argentina. Without Marion’s Tango this piece would not work. During our Museum of Time opening piece Marion’s dancing adds energy and excitement. Marion is a dancer who performs magic; I am a magician who cannot dance.
MN: A lot of magicians were attracted to the art at an early age. You have been performing professionally since the early 1980s. What was the spark that lit you on the path you are on now?
TO: Audiences love to be entertained by a charismatic gentleman, and “Magic Tom” Auburn was the ultimate example. Tom treated his audiences and volunteers with great respect and he entertained with kindness.
I was seven years old when I first met “Magic Tom” at a Montreal restaurant, and I remember that he gave me goose bumps when he produced an egg from behind my ear.
A few years later I watched “Magic Tom” perform the impossible with coloured handkerchiefs on television, and I still remember where I was standing as I witnessed this feat. This was a turning point for me and I decided that I wanted to become a magician.
MN: Travelling the road from young performer working birthday parties to an artist who has been called Canada’s most successful professional magician is a journey few magicians make. To what do you attribute the long and successful career?
TO: I have been blessed with wonderful parents who taught me to follow my heart. I have also been blessed with my wonderful wife Marion who is my partner on and offstage. Marion and I have surrounded ourselves with a fabulous team of people who help us make our magic happen.
MN: Like any performer, connecting with the audience is essential. But you plan to connect with the community through the Time Capsule prediction you mentioned earlier. Explain why that has become one of the high points of Outerbridge: Clockwork Mysteries?
TO: I have always been fascinated by time capsules because they can bring a community together and they have historical significance. Since the beginning of time communities have gathered together to create time capsules for future generations to discover. The first time capsules were cave paintings. Later on came the pyramids and more recently we have been sealing items inside metal containers.
I thought it would be really cool to create a time capsule in every community where we perform. A few weeks ago I had a premonition of what would be in a Morinville time capsule. I wrote a few things down on a piece of paper, sealed the paper in an airtight jar and locked the jar into a metal chest. On March 15th our Morinville audience will decide what they would put in a Morinville time capsule. I will then invite you, Stephen, to unlock the chest and reveal my prediction.
Outerbridge: Clockwork Mysteries will be appearing for one night only Mar. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Tickets are $25.00 for general admission, $20.00 for seniors 65 and older, and $10.00 for students with valid student ID. Tickets are available at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre box office or through Tix on the Square.