Christmas Magic 2016, Kaohsiung

04 November, 2016 to 06 November, 2016

Gateway Entertainment (GE)’s 2016 tour of Taiwan began in the city of Kaohsiung, the country's second largest city and premier trading port. Besides being easily reachable via direct flights from over 40 Asian cities, the city also boasts a high-speed rail that runs through it from North Taiwan, making it less than an hour and thirty minutes away from capital city, Taipei. GE’s arrival on 1 November marked the company’s much anticipated debut in this massive port city. 

Staging an elaborate and intricate production such a Christmas Magic calls for a suitable venue that can accommodate not just the show’s wide array of props and equipment, but also its complex technical and staging requirements needed to run a full-fledged magic show. For this, Kaohsiung Exhibition Centre (KEC) was the venue chosen to play host and home to this uniquely Singaporean production. A prestigious multi-purpose venue managed by Taiwan's leading MICE company, KEC boasts over 25,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor exhibition space, with the ability to house up to 4,000 attendees at a time.

 

As with most venues, plenty of prep work had to be done by the production crew before rehearsals could even start. From the onset of day 1 once they arrived, the production crew worked hard through the night to ensure the stage was professionally set up for staged runs and plotting the following day. It was an arduous task – from building Christmas Magic’s massive set from scratch and fixing up all the transported props, to getting the costumes in order and programming the lights precisely for the show. But the crew trudged on, working into the wee hours of the morning to get everything done and ready for cue-to-cues and stage plots which would commence the next day.

Day 2 of setup began with a rough start with several technical difficulties and glitches that hindered setup and final preparations. However, the crew’s dogged determination and professionalism won out in the end and things were gradually smoothened out by the time our main stars arrived for rehearsals in the afternoon. Rehearsing along them were, of course, the dancers, who were practising their steps even off stage, whenever they had the chance to do so.

The day before the show was spent mostly further refining the technical details of the show, where everyone spared no effort to make sure every little detail was made perfect and flawless on show day. It was also the first time everyone got to meet the 21 Taiwanese children who would be dancing alongside the dancers during a special act. Their energy and enthusiasm received nods of approval from cast and crew, while their good behaviour and ability to follow instructions added an extra shine to their segment of the show. 

The Magic Begins!

Innovation has always been one of the hallmarks and key tenet of every GE production where new twists are added to popular or familiar illusions performed by the grandmasters. Christmas Magic is no exception. When we spoke to Samantha Scott Blackhall, Director of Christmas Magic 2016, she revealed that she rewrote the script for this year’s performance to make it almost like a brand new show. This dovetails to the key principles of magic which is to keep defying logic by making things unexpected. “People like changes; this is inherent in our nature,” explained Nina Khong, Gateway Entertainment’s CEO. “We enjoy things that are new and fresh, things that are different and exceed what we would normally expect. This is why magic is such a meaningful and powerful art form.” Aside from the revamped script and new acts was Isaac, Lawrence’s grandson, Isaac’s first-ever magic act saw him levitate a guitar across the stage.  

Of significant note was the positive and awed response from the locals of Kaohsiung. Delighted and thoroughly entertained, they were impressed by not just the showmanship of the main stars, but also how “专业” (professional) the staging, props, costumes, performance and magic were carried out. It was a visual treat and a first for many of them as they had not witnessed such a unique illusion production of such quality or standard.

We were so pleased to see a full-house crowd of 3330 in attendance at the opening of Christmas Magic 2016 in Kaohsiung.

Our second show saw yet another sold out show with 3317 in attendance! In fact, the GE team learned that all three shows in Kaohsiung were already sold out before the production set foot in Taiwan! GE also fared well and received good response from local media. On the afternoon of our second show day, Lawrence and Priscilla were interviewed by two news websites. One of the reporters who spoke to them was so impressed by what they had to share, that they wrote that the show was “100% professional performance!” 

Taiwanese songstress Shi Yu, who sang during a segment of the programme, and also gave a rendition of an original Hokkien composition said she was extremely impressed by the entire setup and performance. She said both Lawrence and Priscilla were ‘visionary artistes’, and that she was honoured to be a part of the show. Shi Yu even compared Christmas Magic to Hollywood productions; calling it a world-class production that is on par with the world’s finest and best. 

The audience we spoke to after Day 2’s show expressed that they were very moved by the performance, especially during the show’s signature double levitation act, when Lawrence flew up to join Priscilla floating in the air, before making her vanish before the audience’s eyes. They were awestruck, and expressed their wishes for Lawrence to continue these shows throughout the rest of Taiwan.  

Day 3 yielded the fullest house ever with 3450 people, every single seat in the exhibition hall was filled despite it being a matinee, and the audience was especially responsive to all the acts and Lawrence’s invitation.

Once our last show drew its final curtain call, Lawrence was invited for a “庆功宴” (celebratory meal), a custom to thank him for his hard work and to congratulate him on the success of Christmas Magic 2016. It was an extremely fitting end for a spectacular journey in Kaohsiung. All in all, over 10,097 witnessed Christmas Magic over the three days.

For the rest of the production crew, it was once again back to the intense race against time to tear down the setup and get the props packed and assembled for transport to Taichung the very next day. Working till the wee hours of the morning, the numerous containers were all set when morning broke – all ready to bring the magic to Taichung. 

The magic of Lawrence and Priscilla continues…

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