A&E » Theatre

Moose in a Top Hat debut magic comedy in Whistler

The Vancouver collective performs back-to-back shows Dec. 28 at Millennium Place



Trevor Watters is a little freaked out by his Moose in a Top Hat colleague.

No, not his wife, Lorena, or wacky magician Matthew Johnson, but rather Christopher Taylor, a psychic magician.

"Some of the stuff he does, I can't even figure out," says the Vancouver magician and performer. "He leaves me with my jaw open. Most of his stuff is mentalism. He'll be able to read your mind and tell you what you're thinking."

Another eerie trick: Taylor will bring two people on stage, seat them far away from each other and when he taps one person on the shoulder, the other person, completely unaware of the gesture, stands up. "I have no clue how it's done," Watters says.

The four performers are making their debut as a collective in Whistler Dec. 28, first with a family show and then with a later adult version. The three-act performance combines three elements: "It's magic, comedy and mystery. We all bring something different to the table," Watters adds.

For his part, Watters and Lorena perform as a comedy-magician duo. "If you're walking away from the show and you're going, 'I think he did it this way' that's not what we're there for. We're there to entertain you... I wouldn't say we're totally amazing and mind-blowing magicians, we're more entertainers," Watters says.

The pair met while Lorena was studying acting at Douglas College and Watters — a magician since he was a kid and his dad brought him a handful of tricks back from a trip to Vegas — was learning to build sets. At first he was just looking for an assistant, but he soon found much more. Eventually the pair began adding comedy and acting to their set, which fit better than the traditional magic performance.

"We just found that that's what everyone wanted," Watters says. "In our younger days, I tried to do some of the dramatic magic pieces and it just wasn't us. It was like we were trying to copy the David Copperfields out there. Once we realized we were comedy-magic, our show excelled."

Taylor and Johnson also took note. The group first performed all together earlier this year when Watters stepped in to replace a host of their show who had fallen ill. The performers clicked and the pair invited the Watters couple into the group. "It's just snowballed into this huge entity now," Watters says. "I can't say the show is any one of us; it's four great minds coming together."

After a test run earlier this month at Millennium Place in front of around 150 kids who had been bussed in for the show, the group is set for their pair of performances. The family show incorporates multi-level humour in the vein of Shrek, Watters says, while things get a little wilder for the adult version. "You can play around a little more," he says. "Don't get me wrong, we're very good at the family show, but the adult show is where we really (shine)... We like to have a lot of fun with the audience members. We have a lot of audience participation."

The Whistler debut happened by chance, stemming from a connection Johnson had to the Whistler Arts Council, Watters explains. "(Johnson) said, 'Hey, there's this theatre up there. It just grew from there. It was never really, 'Oh, OK we're going to put this together and sell it to Whistler.' It just fell into place. We were building (the show) for corporate events or fundraisers."

They also planned to market the purely Canadian content to international audiences. Besides their very Canadian mascot, they also sneak some "tid bits" on the Great White North into the show. "You should also pull away some idea of the essence of being Canadian," Watters says. "We also have a short movie of the moose getting ready for the show and driving up to Whistler."

The crew is pleased to be following their furry friend up the Sea to Sky for the gigs. "I'm excited," he adds. "We really like Whistler. Whistler is very magical in general... (The show) is not like a bar or movie you can go see anywhere. It's special."