Weird and woeful things happen in the world of entertainment journalism, like when you write a “preview” story about a show, then it gets cancelled soon after.
This was the case with Sin City Illusions’ “Magic & Mystery” at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, Sept. 23. No reason is given for the show cancellation, but my money is on low ticket sales. “We will be providing a refund at point of purchase ASAP,” says a message on the theatre’s website.
The night was supposed to have Paul Romhany transforming himself into Charlie Chaplin as headliner. The North Vancouverite was also going to open the all-ages show with his standup act, followed by middler Murray Hatfield, a Victoria-based illusionist who is no stranger to the Sullivan Heights-area theatre.
Both perform in shows by Sin City Illusions, Ken Pham’s Toronto-based production company.
Hatfield was named Canada’s Magician of the Year in 2006 and has performed on stages around the world, including at the PNE, cruise ships and also the competition TV series “Fool Us,” with Penn & Teller.
A native of New Zealand, Romhany has performed in large theatres, on luxury cruise liners, for the royal family of Monaco and in over 120 countries and on every continent. He’s also the editor of Vanish, the world’s largest magazine for magicians.
“The Chaplin magic act is one of a kind, and I am sure most people have never seen anything like it,” Pham raved. “Paul Romhany answers the question, ‘What would happen if Charlie Chaplin was a magician?’”
Romhany, who’s been living “in and out of Canada for the better part of 20 years,” said his Chaplin act was developed at a young age.
“I started with that when I was eight years old,” he said in a phone call last week. “I tell people I wasted the first eight years of my life by not knowing what I wanted to do. I saw a Chaplin movie and that just started the whole thing. At the same time I got into music and magic, and music plays a really big part of the Chaplin act because it’s all based around the music as well, because Chaplin wrote the music to his films. So that inspired me.”
He said portraying Chaplin “is about the nuances, it’s about pathos, and it takes people on a journey. It’s not your regular magic show, you come away with a feeling of wonderment, and it’s quite different.”
At age 54, Romhany obviously still loves what he does for a living.
“Performing magic has been my whole life,” he stressed, “and it’s taken me around the world. And even during COVID I was able to continue, you just had to reinvent yourself. So we were doing online shows, Zoom shows. It was an interesting time. And I think that’s why these shows we’re doing are really becoming popular, because live entertainment is making a huge comeback. People crave live entertainment. It’s only been in the past sort of year that as entertainers, we’ve been able to get out there and perform again for audiences.”
Hatfield, he said, had a very long-running tour in Canada that raised funds for many years, and performed at Surrey’s Bell theatre several times.
Pham said that with Sin City Illusions, “one of our main goals is to provide world-class entertainment for families at an affordable price.
For the cancelled Surrey show, tickets started at $25 and jumped to $60 for the best seats. Details are on the Bell’s website (bellperformingartscentre.com), or call 604-507-6355.