Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Interview: James Galea – Talks About Magical Cabaret

Australian-born James Galea has wowed audiences across the globe for the past 20 years with his skillful magic and illusions.

Australian-born James Galea has wowed audiences across the globe for the past 20 years with his skillful magic and illusions. He has appeared on Ellen, headlined in Hollywood and Las Vegas, helmed the smash-hit magic supergroup Band Of Magicians and has written and produced countless TV series and specials.

Returning home to Australia, James will be appearing at this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival with his show Poof! Secrets Of A Magician.

I recently caught up with James to discuss the show and what made him choose a career in magic.

“I was studying acting at the Australian Theatre For Young People in Sydney, and my acting teacher showed me a coin trick. It blew my mind as it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen. It was just a random thing that 20 years ago changed the course of my life. I had always had an interest in theatre, and music before that. I started playing the piano at age six, and that opened the door for me into performing. I started writing songs, but then magic took me in a different direction and it became my life for the last 20 years.”

For over 20 years, James has performed around the world. Does he ever take a moment to reflect on all he has achieved? Or is it straight onto the next show, or designing the next trick?

“You are always thinking, ‘What’s next, what’s next?’ But you do need to sit back and go, ‘Wow, I’ve been doing this for 20 years?!’ That’s the exciting part of the show I’m bringing to Adelaide; it does reflect on a lot of the things in the past, including things that have gone wrong in magic tricks. A lot of that is told in song, and there are some pretty ridiculous stories that the audiences are really going to take to. However, if you take too much time reflecting on the past you can’t really move forward, so I try to work on what’s next.”

There are very few Australian magicians who have managed to become household names, though most people would be able to rattle off a long list of American magicians and illusionists. Is there a reason behind this?

“When I started out in magic, I was 14. Back then, the only magic I could see was in books you could find at the local library, if you were lucky. We also have a smaller population than America does. In America, every restaurant seems to have a magician going around doing tricks for dinners, and there are clubs and places where people are touring shows. It’s a very different place. In Australia, we don’t have that to the same extent. I got the magic bug, and when you have that you do whatever you can to develop it, which is why I moved to the States in the first place. I was ready to go and be where all the magic is. I love being around that world.”

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love magic and that I love to try and work out how each trick is performed. I was keen to find out from James how long it takes him to develop a trick from a simple idea through to performing it on stage in front of a live audience.

“Trick by trick is different for me. For example, for this show I started writing the songs in it seven years ago. I released a little EP of them, but I was never confident enough to present them live to an audience. Over that time, it grew as an idea – I really wanted to tell the stories but had to think about how I would present them magically. So, I feel now, 7 years later, we’ve found the perfect balance where the magic is really good, the music is fun and interesting and everything makes sense within it. I have a magic team that works with me and we take my ideas and look at the concept and it grows from there. The most brilliance comes from your team around you.”

Poof! Secrets Of A Magician will be making its Adelaide premiere this coming weekend, and it promises to draw back the magician’s curtain on the world of magic.

“The show’s climax is about the biggest magic screw up…..ever. It’s such a ridiculous story that it sounds like it’s fake. But I don’t want to give away too much about that… Audiences are going to be surprised to find out about the realities of putting on magic. It’s going to be a very unique experience for anyone coming to watch the show. You want to challenge an audience and titillate and excite them, and I know this show does that. That’s the fun part for me. You can stay safe just doing the shows you know people will love, but it’s exciting to do something that’s going to provoke people, because that’s what good cabaret should do. So, it’s a mix of magic and music in a way audiences won’t have experienced before.”

Poof! Secrets Of A Magician will be part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival between June 11 and 13, 9,00pm in the Dunstan Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased through bass or the Cabaret Festival website: 

Interview by Ben Stefanoff

Photo Credit: Cameron Radd

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