A magical show is coming to the Museum of Surrey.
Leon Mandrake was a world-famous local performance artist known as Mandrake the Magician. His story is being told as part of the museum’s latest Community Treasures exhibit.
Mandrake was a “world-renowned magician, mentalist, illusionist, escapologist, ventriloquist, and stunt performer with Surrey roots,” notes a press release from the Museum of Surrey.
“Magicians were like rock stars in the 1930s and 1940s, filling stadiums with crowds of fans,” says Jessie McLean, assistant curator at the Museum of Surrey.
For this show, MoS reached out to Lon Mandrake, Leon Mandrake’s son.
Lon, also a magician, loaned the museum some memorabilia about Mandrake’s life and career. Items include: decks of cards, his magic wand, a crystal ball, posters, comics, figurines, and performance costumes from both Mandrake and Velvet (Leon’s wife and assistant—and Lon’s mom.)
Lon shares a “compelling story of curiosity and cultural transformation.” The new show allows visitors to “discover how Leon’s life converged with the civil rights movement, the polio epidemic, scientific achievement, and comic book fandom.”
The popularity of Mandrake also helped to turn the magician into a famous comic strip (created by Leon’s friend Lee Falk) and to become the focus of two live-action productions: a 1939, 12-part serial (Mandrake the Magician) and a 1979 made-for-TV movie (Mandrake). (Rumours have swirled for about a decade that a new Mandrake film will be made by Warner Brothers.)
Community Treasures exhibitions are shows brought to the museum through public outreach and engagement.
“Community Treasures celebrates the stories of Surrey’s people,” adds McLean. “From Filipino textiles, to Mandrake the Magician, you will be surprised at the diversity of stories from Surrey’s amazing community.”
Mandrake the Magician runs until May 16 at the Museum of Surrey, 17710 56A Avenue.
Tickets are free, but everyone must pre-register by contacting the museum at 604.592.6956, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting surrey.ca.