Murder at the Magic Emporium at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Bonita Akai and Kent Wong in Murder at the Magic Emporium. Photo credit Lisa Michetti

Bonita Akai and Kent Wong in Murder at the Magic Emporium. Photo credit Lisa Michetti

Murder at the Magic Emporium by Bonita Akai and Kent Wong
August 12 – 16, 18 – 21 at Venue 44: Magic Emporium (8850 – 60 avenue)
More information: murderatthemagicemporium.com


An interview with Bonita Akai and Kent Wong.

Describe your show in five words.

1920s. Magic. Mystery. Murder. Comedy!

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Famous magician Henning Lee has mysteriously been killed in an illusion gone horribly wrong. The members of his troupe accuse each other of performing the evil act– Josephine, Henning’s fame-hungry assistant; Vernon, the group’s money driven manager and Raymond, the lovestruck stagehand. They all have a lot to lose and a lot to gain in the wake of Henning’s death.

Murder at the Magic Emporium combines a magic show with a traditional theatre show. How is the magic integrated into the show?

Seamlessly! We shift focus between each troupe member and their possible involvement in Henning’s death using a series of flashbacks. The illusions are performed everywhere from on stage at the Grand Hall to backstage at a flea-bitten cabaret. In fact, some tricks will happen when you least expect it.

The two stars of Murder at the Magic Emporium – Bonita Akai and Kent Wong – met when Kent needed an assistant from his magic show… and now you’re sort of re-creating that on stage! Can you tell us a bit more about how you started performing together?

Kent has been performing magic for over 40 years. His extensive experience includes up-close magic, corporate events and primetime stage shows. Once a family act consisting of Kent and his two daughters, the troupe expanded in 2014 to bring Bonita Akai on board.

Bonita’s background in theatre, dance and rhythmic gymnastics made her a perfect fit for the illusion team. Since embracing a larger role, Bonita supplements Kent’s mastery of magic with her eye for technical detail– taking the show to new levels of performance art!

You mention in your press release that audiences will be seeing your show in an intimate black-box theatre, but the tricks you use in the show are usually performed at a distance of 50 feet or more. What complexities does that add for you as a performer, and what will audiences gain from seeing this performance in such an intimate space?

The ability to see large, stage illusions performed in an up-close setting is extremely rare.  When these illusions are typically performed, the magician can use perspectives, backdrops, lighting effects and even dancers to distract the audience from the sleight of hand.  But you can’t get away with any of that when the audience is sitting only 10 feet back! There is literally no room for error: timing must be perfect and the methods used for the magic must be bulletproof. These conditions are extremely challenging, yet our performers rise to the occasion and create awe-inspiring magic. No mirrors, secret threads or trap doors required!

For the audience, seeing these amazing illusions performed in a unique way really is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s almost like being invited to see the magic from backstage. Audiences will walk out of this play wondering how we pulled it all off, despite seeing it from inches away.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

Murder at the Magic Emporium takes place in an exceptional BYOV– the Magic Emporium! (http://magicemporium.ca/) 10 minutes south of the main Fringe grounds, it boasts free parking and air-conditioning. We can’t wait to see you there!

The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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