Illusionist Sam Strange part of Champions of Magic show at Stranahan on Oct. 16
First things first: Yes, it’s his real name.
“Sam Strange is my genuine name, and I’ve obviously had a terrible childhood growing up with a name like that,” Strange said with a laugh.
The unusual nom de plume has served Sam well in his chosen profession, however. Sam is a magician— one of five currently touring the world as part of the Champions of Magic stage show out of the UK.
“I perform in a double act in the Champions of Magic show, and my partner’s name is Richard Young. So the act’s name could only really be Young and Strange,” he said.
A strange opportunity
Sam and his magical friends will be making their first appearance in Toledo on October 16 at the Stranahan Theater. The show will be the latest stop for a tour that has run for six years, and has served as the biggest career opportunity for Strange, whose fascination with magic began as a teenager.
“I saw a close-up magician performing a few card tricks at an event, and I was captivated by it,” Strange said. “And then for a while I was interested in card-cheating techniques, and how you could be hustled in a card game.”
Sam never actually used any of these techniques himself, he hastens to add, but he learned about basic magic tenants of slight of hand and misdirection, as well as the rush of feedback when a trick works well.
“Magic’s an odd thing, because once you start performing it, especially when you’re young, you get this instant hit of affirmation from it to you, in the form of people saying, ‘Oh, you’re amazing, this is amazing, the tricks are great!’ And of course, that’s the greatest catalyst to wanting to learn more.”
Young and strange
He soon had a partner in his pursuit— he went to school with Richard Young, who independent from Strange had gotten interested in magic himself. “We had this sort of united passion for this kind of quirky art form, and actually that really fostered a nice environment, with the two of us learning at the same time. It’s a deep-rooted friendship, that’s for sure.”
The pair began performing shows in their native Britain, including years of appearances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the world’s largest arts festivals. It was there that a producer for Champions of Magic caught their act and offered them the chance to join the tour.
“When you start playing these big theaters, and there are problems with the show…and being in a touring show can be a bit stressful at times, that friendship serves us really well, because it means you go through the highs and the lows together, and then when you do argue, you can very easily put it to bed with no consequences, because you’re such good friends,” Strange said.
Champions of Magic has toured for six years now, first appearing in the United States in 2017, and Strange noted what a pleasure it is to bring the group’s collection of amazing illusions to a whole new audience stateside.
“You tend to really embrace the whole thing, and join in, and cheer and clap. And I don’t know whether it’s because you’re programmed in from your sports games, but it’s really, it’s honestly such an honor to be a magician that’s transferred from the UK, where the audiences sit there with their arms folded in a cynical way, to, as a generalization, the Americans just embracing the whole thing as the entertainment form that it is.”
$29-104 | 7:30pm | Wednesday, October 16
Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.
866-381-7469 | stranahantheater.com