Niagara Falls, Ontario – A City of Lights and Magic
I was curious what Pete actually does during his seven hour shift. He said he changes the colour combinations manually every two minutes or so. In between he reads or does crossword puzzles and added that he never feels lonely. Occasionally he gets a special visit from Australian, Japanese, Dutch or Chinese tour groups, and he mentioned that particularly the Japanese travel groups really enjoy the experience of the Illumination Tower. I was admiring the dozens of international, mostly Japanese business cards on the wall. Even celebrities such as Danny DeVito, Rita Perlman and Robert Urich have visited the Illumination Tower.
The Fallsview Casino Resort also puts on a big show
Before I left, Pete extended a special invitation to me: whenever I planned to return to Niagara Falls he would take me on a personal tour of his home town and show me all the special spots. I am definitely planning to take him up on that and thought to myself that the City of Niagara Falls could not wish for a better ambassador than Pete Gordon who has so much pride and affection for his home town.
Inspired from this almost magical experience in the Illumination Tower I was ready for my last adventure of the day: my first live Magic Show. I drove five minutes into the Clifton Hill area and arrived at the Greg Frewin Theatre. As I entered, a large tour group was just enjoying a dinner buffet and started to file into the theatre and take their spots. I had a chance to sit down with Greg Frewin, the Grandmaster of Magic himself, shortly before the show and get to know this master illusionist a little bit.
The Greg Frewin Theatre
Despite his impressive international credentials, Greg Frewin is actually a local boy who hails from Stoney Creek, Ontario, just up the street from Niagara Falls. It became clear very early on that he was fascinated by magic when his grandfather showed him some magic tricks. In grade 9 he met a gentleman who had taken a basic magic course and Greg wanted to learn from him, but this man would not take any students. But Greg insisted, and a week later he got a call back and became this magician’s only student. His teacher became a full-time magician, and Greg shared the same goal, but his parents did not take his career decision seriously.
Greg Frewin with one of his Siberian Tigers
So he finished high school and worked as a waiter at a local Keg Restaurant for five years. But he continued with his studies of magic, started to enter competitions and perform at small corporate parties. He finally won a National Competition in the United States and came in first among 600 magicians. After this big breakthrough the industry took notice, and international agents from Europe and Japan started approaching Greg. He ended up working in places like Yokohama, Osaka, Tokyo, Taiwan and China, and toured Europe for several months on a cruise boat. He also worked on full-time assignments in France and Germany.
A successful career in Las Vegas followed with appearances on top stages such as The Flamingo Hilton, Caesar’s Palace and the Tropicana. Greg’s skills as an illusionist have received many great international awards: he won first place in numerous international magic convention competitions, winning out over hundreds of other talented magicians, and won the first ever Magician of the Year award bestowed by the Canadian Association of Magicians. More than 35 TV specials have featured the skilled magic act of Greg Frewin. For the first two years at his own theatre, all the Friday and Saturday night performances have been sold out and during the summer tickets are always in high demand.
Many different animals are part of the act
Two years ago Greg’s life took a different turn with the creation of the Greg Frewin Theatre in Niagara Falls, Ontario. With a young family he now has a more settled lifestyle although he still works extremely long hours. For example, he personally looks after the animals that participate in his show: five tigers, a mountain lion, a cougar, various pigeons and parrots as well as Chuck the Duck. Even after finishing a magic show at 11 pm Greg still drives his animals home and feeds them. One of his Siberian tigers, Boomer, was rejected by his mother as a baby and Greg adopted him. He has been looking after Boomer since he was eight days old. Greg added that his animal training techniques are based on positive reinforcement and that big cats are just as affectionate as house cats. Yet he still realizes that he is dealing with wild animals and is extremely safety-conscious.
Greg Frewin, the International Grand Champion of Magic
Greg added that in addition to his magic shows, the theatre has recently branched out and added other genres, for example Elvis Tribute Artists. This more diverse programming is particularly important during the winter in order to offer a broader variety of entertainment at the theatre.
After giving me this great introduction to his background and the world of magic, Greg excused himself since he had to get ready for the show. I took my place in the audience and started chatting to the woman sitting next to me, a convention traveller from Australia. Both she and I were extremely excited about attending our first magic show.
A world-class magic show
The show began shortly after, and Greg Frewin and his two female assistants appeared on the stage. The music was pumping and Greg was in full control of his act. Greg’s movement and that of his two assistants were crisply choreographed. Two of his tigers made an appearance, pigeons appeared out of nowhere, and even Chuck the Duck mysteriously popped out of a bucket without any possible explanation. Throughout the act Greg’s two assistants Darlene and Jamie-Lynn vanished and reappeared inexplicably right in front of everyone’s eyes.
With the help of a willing audience member Greg even turned a $50 bill into a $1 bill, in plain vision of an incredulous audience, and to the heart-felt chagrin of the person who had donated the $50. One of the big acts of the night was a mind-boggling levitation illusion that seemed to defy any sense of logic or science. I was sitting right in the front row and watched Greg’s every move like a hawk, but after the whole thing was done I was still completely unable to figure out how Greg had pulled off some of his grand illusions. Judging by the large crowd that gathered around Greg after the show to ask for autographs I realized that he is truly an international talent of the highest caliber, a real celebrity magician.
Glamour, skill and suspense
Images of this action-packed day were flashing through my mind as I drove back to my home for the night. Once I arrived at the Best Western Cairn Croft I stretched out on my king-size bed and mentally savoured the day’s experiences once again, yet already looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow that would give me a chance to experience a close-up encounter of the majestic waterfalls.