Technology has rolled in an era of instant gratification. As a society, we have all answers within grasp and a large portion of today’s mysteries have been unveiled. It’s not a negative thing, but it is a definite shift in how we function now in comparison to my youth.
A part of me wants to still believe there is magic in the world. Thanks to Greg Frewin, that belief is easier than ever to hold onto.
Greg Frewin is the only magician to win every major award in the world of magic. This prestige has come with the title of “International Grand Champion Of Magic,” and he is recognized amongst his peers and audience as being one of the best.
So, with the help of Greg’s expert hands, Dan and I went on a grand adventure of illusion. Our minds were blown.
The show is an entertaining mixture of magic, music and comedy. During the course of the performance, Dan and I kept looking at each other with our mouths firmly agape. The experience was literally jaw-dropping. Our rational brains couldn’t wrap around how he was carrying out these spectacular feats of illusion.
The special thing about this show is that Greg isn’t just performing magic, he is carrying out each illusion with an effortless grace. With light banter and audience participation, Greg works the crowd as a comedian would. We found ourselves laughing many times and then something magical would happen that would swiftly remind us this isn’t your average show.
Animals are an integral part to Greg Frewin’s performance. We were introduced to gorgeous tigers, exotic birds, an enthusiastic dog and even a duck. It’s not every day you see a duck incorporated into a magic show! It’s interesting to note that Greg doesn’t just use the animals for his show, they are also a part of his family. Rescued and patiently trained, he strives for a stable but interesting life for each creature.
It might surprise some of you that Greg Frewin is not just a magician, he’s also a very active Niagara resident. He is a big proponent of Project Share, which is an under-privileged food bank here in Niagara Falls. The Greg Frewin Theatre will bring in hundreds of under-privileged families to see the show during the course of the year.
Greg is also involved with the local soup kitchen. Any extra food that is served nightly goes directly to them. It has resulted in thousands and thousands of plates served a year.
A magician and a great humanitarian!
Dan and I were fortunate to be able to spend an evening watching his show and were given the chance to sit down and talk with him afterward. He’s an entirely down-to-earth man, quick to laugh and incredibly passionate.
Embrace Niagara: You and your family decided to settle down after years of travelling around. How have you enjoyed that decision and do you see a future of packing up your bags again?
Greg Frewin: You never know; the world’s a weird thing. But as far as travelling again, I don’t miss it. I did it for 20 years on cruise ships, living in Vegas, Malaysia, Bahamas, and all over Europe. Six continents, 72 countries and at the end of it all I’ve seen some great places but home is still home. I think the coolest thing and one of the things I’ve really enjoyed about making the move to doing this, is that I have freedom. I can go home and sleep in my own bed. I can get up and go to the grocery store. Sometimes when you are on the road you don’t realize that you miss those luxuries. Plus I have two kids now and with all of the animals in the show, it’s really nice to stay in one place.
Embrace Niagara: You have won a variety of top-tier awards and have accomplished so much. What about being a Magician is the most rewarding aspect?
Greg Frewin: I think being on stage, for me no matter when I was younger up to even now, that’s what it’s all about. There will be nights that you’re not feeling well or you’re just not that into it and the moment those lights come on it just changes like that. It’s that rush of adrenaline and excitement of trying to do a perfect show every night. If you told me this was going to be perfect every night I would do it, it would be boring. It’s the thrill and the challenge of trying to do that perfect show every night. I spend a lot of time training, depending upon whether it’s a bird or a cat, even the dog, they go through a year or two sometimes before we put them into the show.
Embrace Niagara: So with all the training, the animals are actually more predictable that the audience participation?
Greg Frewin: The great thing about the audience participation is you’re looking for that difference because it keeps me on my toes and when I can get that gem, that joke, where the guys says something to you whether it be he tries to say something funny and you say something funny back, those moments become the gems. Then you get nights where guys try to be smarter than you but they don’t realize that I’ve been doing this 20 years and I have a microphone. They aren’t going to outwit me on stage.
Embrace Niagara: It’s not every day that a person encounters a magician. What’s the first thing people ask you (or ask you to do) once they find out about your profession?
Greg Frewin: Make my wife disappear! I get that probably the most. I’m not saying I said that – that’s what they say. Just in case my wife is reading this article!
Embrace Niagara: Do you ever give impromptu performances for strangers on the street, in an elevator or passengers on a flight?
Greg Frewin: Sometimes but you know, now that I’ve been doing it for so long and I do so much of it, this is what I do for a living. To be honest it’s more rare. When I go away and I’m on a flight, I kind of want to be left alone. There’s a point where you want to have the magic life and you want to have your own life. I still do things here and there, but not like I used to. When I was really young it was different because I wasn’t on stage a lot. Now I try to divide that up, when I’m working I’m working but when I’m home I’m with my family. When we go to Disney, the last thing my kids want to see me do is another magic trick.
Embrace Niagara: Teller quotes, “Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” About how long does it take from the beginning of an idea to it being executed on-stage?
Greg Frewin: It varies, but I would say average from conception and if I work on it pretty consistently by the time it hits stage it’s well over a year. Sometimes it takes two or three years.
Embrace Niagara: Will it start with the trick in your mind or will it start with the objective of what you want to accomplish?
Greg Frewin: It depends. Sometimes I see things in life that triggers an idea or a trick. Then I have to figure out how to make that happen and, depending on the effect, that can vary. Sometimes it’s easy, because there’s certain methodology that has been done and sometimes I’ve got to figure it out. So it can vary. Pretty well 90% of this show is built by myself.
Embrace Niagara: So that’s a lot of hats you get to wear between animal training, building, conceptualizing and performing. It must be nice seeing it all come together on stage.
Greg Frewin: It’s pretty rewarding! There are a few pieces in the show that a friend of mine will create and we’ll make a deal and trade. That makes it a little easier because he’ll spend all that time on it himself and when I get it, I’m very fresh. When I start from something, it’s a long road. It’s very rewarding. Of course, you wake up the next day and go, okay, what’s next? It’s a constant wanting to change and improve.
Embrace Niagara: When starting out, what was the best piece of advice you received?
Greg Frewin: Basically the biggest thing with magic is practice. We all want to rush things in life and get out on stage quick, especially when you are young and you don’t realize how valuable that practice is. I remember when I was a kid and I got this magic hat kit. It was on TV. You got a plastic hat, poured the milk in, and the milk would vanish. Of course, I practiced with it maybe twice because I was really young, 8 or 9 years old. When I poured the milk in and put the hat on, the milk ran down my face. I realized kind of quick that’s probably the most key element. Once you are comfortable with the effect, then you can start to perform.
Embrace Niagara: Did your family recognize that you had an interest and aptitude in early on?
Greg Frewin: My grandfather did a lot of coin tricks and card tricks. He took me at the age of 12 to see Doug Henning in Toronto. I remember not knowing who Doug Henning was, I had maybe seen him on TV once. That night, that show was what changed it for me. As soon as I saw that show, that was it. That was what I wanted to do. I think my grandfather saw something in me.
Embrace Niagara: When you were fifteen you would visit sick kids in the hospital and put on shows for them. Do you still have community involvement or programs you support?
Greg Frewin: Wednesday (Dec 19), we are travelling into Hamilton to do a show for under-privileged kids. We have a team here who is all putting in time to do that. We do other things throughout the year. It’s fun. Some of these kids don’t get to have a Christmas like we know Christmas. We go there, do a show and give them a smile for the afternoon. When I was young, growing up in Hamilton, I had a guy take me under his wing and started teaching me. He would get me these gigs at the hospital. You realize quickly how privileged we are in life. Sometimes we take it for granted.
Embrace Niagara: What differentiates the Magicians who are good from the ones who are great?
Greg Frewin: I think the biggest key, and it’s not just for magic but in any performance, is the showmanship side of it, the theatrical side of it. It’s not the magic. It’s being able to communicate with the audience. I think there are some good magicians, but they don’t know how to cross that line. Their magic is good but they don’t know how to communicate that to the audience and get that audience involved. You talk about all the ‘greats,’ they all have that in common.
Embrace Niagara: Was that a natural thing for you? Did you feel comfortable early on?
Greg Frewin: I think so but as far as natural, I think that no matter how natural it is you still have to work at it from an early age. The first time you are on stage, you don’t understand timing the same way with comedy or delivering a speech or how music starts and ends. A lot of that gets learned from trial and error and honing it. I believe there is a natural ability there. When I was younger, I never felt frightened to go on stage. Even in the last 7 years here, I’ve grown a lot.
Embrace Niagara: Have animals always been a part of your magic?
Greg Frewin: Pretty well. When I was a kid, I grew up with a St. Bernard and parakeets. I was always around birds and animals, so when I started learning magic through this gentleman, he had some doves in his act. It kind of just grew from there. But I also wanted to be a vet when I was a kid. There were two things I loved – magic and I wanted to be a vet. I cannot handle needles and blood, though!
Embrace Niagara: So that left magic as your choice! How many people are in your crew?
Greg Frewin: Nine, including the dancers and myself. For a stage production of this size, that is very small. I do a lot of the lighting and sound. I program it all myself and run it off a computer. This little remote in my pocket runs the whole show. Not only on stage am I doing the illusions but I’m also starting , stopping, and fading out tracks.
Embrace Niagara: A bit of a control freak? (laughs)
Greg Frewin: To be honest with you when we first opened, it became a money issue. To hire more people just became an issue. Once I started in with this system and then running it, it just became more comfortable. It really was a cost thing in the beginning.
Embrace Niagara: Being in Niagara, how is it for getting the kind of talent that you need?
Greg Frewin: Pretty good. It’s not as easy to get girls for dancers like it is in Vegas, but I’ve been very lucky. Especially this cast now. We have one of the best we’ve ever had. We have a great team here. To only have nine people and be able to run the show that tight and smooth, with very little issues, is more due to the fact that we have good people.
Greg had to leave at this point. He still had to put the cats to bed!
With the holidays upon us and family in town, make time to come and experience the magical journey of Greg Frewin!
International Grand Champion of Magic
World Magic Awards – Magician of the Year (2009)
Misty Award – Attraction of the Year (2007 & 2005)
IBM – International Brotherhood of Magicians (1st Place & Gold Medal)
SAM – Society of American Magicians (1st Place)
FISM – Federation Internationale Society of Magique (1st Place)
CAM – Canadian Association of Magicians (Magician of the Year)
Greg Frewin Theatre (Opened in Niagara Falls 2005)
A magic review show located in the heart of Niagara Falls, starring The International Grand Champion of Magic, Greg Frewin. Greg earned his title by winning first place in all the World’s top magic competitions, a feat that has never been duplicated. He’s appeared on the world’s top stages such as The Flamingo Hilton, Caesar’s Palace, the Tropicana in Las Vegas, & has been featured in over 35 TV shows worldwide.