Oxford illusionist Richard Young is living his dream touring in the Champions of Magic show. And he is even more thrilled to perform at Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Nov. 23, the same venue his magician hero David Copperfield performed at in 1992.
Accompanied by his magician partner Strange, the duo will perform spectacular illusions as part of the international Champions of Magic show. The production presents a world-class lineup of five magicians, mind reader Alex McAleer, levitator Kayla Drescher, and death-defier Fernando Velasco. Their skills have been seen around the world, including appearances on The CW’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” NBC’s “Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon,” “The Today Show” and “Access Hollywood Live.”
We caught up with Richard Young before he hits the Costa Mesa stage:
Do you remember the first magic trick you learned? If so, how old were you and who/what taught you?
I do! It was the ball and vase trick from a box of tricks I received at Christmas when I was 8 years old. A huge part of why I stuck with it was the fact that my parents played along and pretended to be fooled by my dreadful tricks for the first couple of years before I started to get good.
What influenced or sparked your interest in performing magic?
Magic changed from a hobby to an obsession for me when I was taken to see David Copperfield when he toured the U.K. in the mid 1990’s. The night I saw his show changed my life forever, his magic connected with an 11-year-old me way in every possible way. That night I found my hero, the hero every 11-year-old boys need in their life. For many, it’s normally a sportsman; for me it was David Copperfield. We are so excited to do our show in Costa Mesa on Nov. 23rd as it’s where Copperfield filmed his Niagara Falls TV Special back in the 90’s (https://youtu.be/fLCAlGLf3WY). For me and the British producer of the show who is also a huge Copperfield fan, we can’t quite believe our magic show which started life in the UK now plays the same rooms Copperfield played in the USA.
Do you have any pre-stage routines to warm up or “get in the zone”?
Yes, stretches and vocal exercises including pulling very silly faces in the mirror to loosen the facial muscles. I also take a moment to remind myself that my nerves are actually excitement. This was a great tip given to me by my friend the actor Andy Nyman who is currently playing the lead in “Fiddler On the Roof” in the West End of London. By simply telling yourself that you’re not nervous, you’re excited, it can totally change how you feel emotionally and remove anxiety. It’s an amazing tip for any performer who struggles with nerves.
How often do you learn or discover new tricks? And how long does it take to feel confident to incorporate it into your show?
Our show is constantly evolving, so we are always looking for new material. We have a new illusion going into the show at the moment that has cost over a hundred thousand dollars and has been built in the USA and the UK by some incredible people. New material and the excitement of putting something on a stage for the first time is what we live for; you just know when it feels right to try it in front of an audience for the first time – that feeling comes at a different point with every different piece.
What was the craziest/oddest place you have performed your tricks?
When I started my career in the UK, I helped make ends meet financially by performing close-up magic at events and parties. I was hired by Europcar car rental to perform in their waiting room at Heathrow Airport in London. It was absolutely dreadful, people hated me. They just want to get the car and leave, not see a card trick!
What trick(s) do you do that you feel gets the most energy from your audience?
Without question the finale of Champions of Magic but I can’t say too much! We pay tribute to a bygone era of magic in a completely bombastic and over the top way with loads of huge illusions and a ton of pyro. You just have to come and see it!
What does it mean to you to be performing with the Champions of Magic?
I’m living my childhood dream, I’m from a council estate in Oxford in the UK; how I have gone from there to playing huge venues in the USA even, I can’t quite comprehend. I feel so lucky and almost every day myself, the other magicians and the producer of this show take a moment to appreciate how incredible it is that we get to do this. If you come to this show, you will meet a cast of performers who absolutely love what they do and appreciate you coming to the show and buying a ticket. We really do give it 100 percent every night, no exceptions.
What has been your most treasured career moment thus far?
For the last few years I have had a side project called The Magicians’ Podcast where I have gone and interviewed other magicians about their career. I built it up over 100 episodes and for the big season finale, I finally got to sit down with David Copperfield and talk to him face-to-face about his incredible career and tell him how he changed my life that night I saw him perform in the UK all those years ago. Sitting and talking to him for over two hours was something I will never forget: The Magicians’ Podcast
What do you want people to know about the Champions of Magic show?
This show is special. If you’ve never been to a magic show before or you have kids who haven’t, it is the perfect first magic show for the Instagram/YouTube generation as you will see every type of magic from five very different magicians. You’re going to see a recreation of Houdini’s famous water torture cell, unexplainable mind reading, stunning close-up magic performed right in the middle of the audience put up on a huge screen so everyone feels like they are inches away and huge state of the art modern stage illusions that fill a 55 foot long truck. The whole show is packaged with loads of pyrotechnics and incredible lighting. The producer of the show went around the world looking for the best magicians and he’s bringing them all to Costa Mesa on Nov. 23rd! Hope to see you there!
CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC
Segerstrom Center for the Arts – Segerstrom Hall
600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA
Saturday, November 23 at 4:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Tickets – Start at $39
Online – SCFTA.org
Phone – (714) 556-2787