Outerbridge performs magic with a message
Magician Ted Outerbridge and his wife Marion Outerbridge are performing at the Lougheed Centre on Dec. 7. Ross Davidson/ Supplied
Magic is not just about the illusion for Ted Outerbridge.
The Montreal-based magician, along with his wife Marion Outerbridge, is bringing his high-production show to the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performance Centre in Camrose on Dec. 7. But, the most impactful illusion involves a spool of thread and carries a metaphor for life. The idea is there’s a beginning and an end to the string, but the important part is the middle.
“Marion and I both feel our show should not come from a magic store catalogue, it should come from our hearts so we tell stories with our magic and we give it meaning and it adds an extra element to the show,” said Outerbridge.
The family-geared show they are bringing to Camrose is called the Clockwork Mysteries. In it, Outerbridge sends his wife back to different periods of time, and celebrates different aspects of those eras. The show takes the audience back to the 1960s and medieval times and a few other stops along the way, even Outerbridge’s childhood when he is reunited with his mind-reading stuffed goose Greta, his favourite toy.
“The idea is about how everyone has wished they could travel back in time and change the past and we actually do it on stage,” he said. “The audience gets pulled in.”
If Outerbridge could really travel back in time, he would go back to his days at Mount Royal High School in Montreal and correct a certain Pet Shop Boys-inspired perm he had.
“The pictures still haunt me,” he said. “Fortunately, hair grows out and you can recover from those things.”
Outerbridge started his career in illusions at the age of 12 as Magic Ted — a take on a popular TV magician in Montreal, Magic Tom — and performed at birthday parties and in variety shows at school. He later moved on to a dove act and later performed in restaurants, perfecting his sleight of hand skills. Eventually, he moved into the illusion game with big set pieces. Marion joined the show in 1999 as a dancer and lead assistant and in 2006 they were married.
Outerbridge credits Marion for her support and in pushing him on to the path they are on. They have since travelled the world with their show to rave reviews.
This dedication to the craft included Marion agreeing to put off a kitchen renovation so Outerbridge could construct a seven-foot alarm clock for the shot in his Chamber of Mysteries Workshop.
“Marion said ‘Get the alarm clock,” said Outerbridge. “She is understanding and passionate and brilliant. She is the reason why I changed my path a little bit and didn’t follow in the steps of your average magician. I took a little turn and became motivated to give meaning to my magic.”
Clockwork Mysteries is a full-fledge illusion show with dramatic lighting, choreography, the whole gambit. It takes six years from conception to full implementation for most of the illusions in the show, and they pack their trailer with 15,000 pounds worth of equipment and props that they unpack on stage.
Still, they break the barrier and involve the audience for a number of tricks, including mind readings and using people in the crowd as assistants. That participation is on full display when Outerbridge saws Marion in half, as one audience member holds her feet and the other holds her head.
“They’re usually more blown away than the audience because they’re right up close and everything is as it appears to be,” said Outerbridge. “It’s lots of fun and that way every show is different, different people coming up on stage … there’s never a dull moment for us, we’re never on autopilot.”
Magic, like many forms of entertainment, is cyclical in popularity. The Golden Age is considered the early 1900s with the likes of Harry Houdini captivating the continent. There was another peak in the 90s with David Copperfield and Doug Henning bringing big illusions to the mainstream like never before. There was some drop off with the controversial Masked Magician revealing secrets. But it’s an aspect that does not bother Outerbridge. He sees magic as an opportunity for an audience to get lost in the theatrics as they would for a concert or any other form of well-thought out entertainment.
“A magic trick or illusion is kind of like playing a piano and if you present it well, it’s beautiful and people enjoy it,” he said. “The method is not even that important in my mind. If it’s done well you don’t even worry about how it was done, it’s just a beautiful experience.”
The Outerbridge Clockwork Mysteries is a 90-minute show that starts at 8 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the Lougheed Centre. Tickets are available at the box office or at www.camroselive.ca