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The Showmen are bringing danger, pyrotechnics and an exciting twist to Melbourne Magic Festival

It will involve danger, pyrotechnics and an exciting twist that has never been seen before.”

At just 17, Melbourne-based magician Sam Hume was already a two-time winner of the Australian Junior Championships of Magic and his career was on an upward trajectory.

Having discovered his passion at a young age, he devoted his life to entertaining people of all ages, often for charity, using his incredible gift for slight-of-hand and infectious energy. Until one fateful day in 2015 when his family home in North Warrandyte went up in flames, resulting in the loss of more than $40, 000 worth of stage props and his much-loved pet rabbit.

“It was a big shock, I lost everything we’d created for our original routines,” Hume says. By this time, he was part of a magic act known as The Showmen, a duo with fellow magician Justin Williams. “We were both children’s magicians when we first met maybe five or six years ago. We met because my sister and his brother were dating. That’s how we were first introduced to each other.”

Instead of seeing each other as the competition the pair instantly hit it off. “I’ve never met another performer more suited to work with than Justin,” Hume says. “In one way we are completely different. Justin is much more out there and full-on with his comedy and performing style as he has a circus background, while I tend to be a little more serious and quick-witted. We started doing conferences and children’s shows together, and in 2013 we did our first Melbourne Magic Festival together.”

When the news broke that the two talented showmen would have to cancel their upcoming gigs, they were overwhelmed by donations and the local support they received. “It gave us an opportunity to start from scratch and build everything up again. We were able to build a rehearsal studio, so with a lot more space to rehearse we created lots of big, brand new effects, illusions and routines,” he says.

With new tricks up their sleeves, Hume and Williams will be debuting not one, but two, outrageous shows at The Melbourne Magic Festival next month. The Greatest Magic Show is a family-friendly event, while the high octane thrill-ride they call The Art of Magic and Illusion is not for the faint-hearted.

I don’t want to give too much away, but what I can say is that it will involve danger, pyrotechnics and an exciting twist that has never been seen before. There’s also an upside-down straitjacket escape, there’s explosions, audience participation and close-up magic,” he says. “There’s pretty much everything in these shows.”

Surprisingly, this time their illusions involve more smoke and fire than in previous years, an irony that’s not lost on Hume. “A lot of escape artists have achieved similar feats, but we have a trained pyrotechnic in every show that we do this routine to ensure the safe ignition of live fireworks during the show. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination.”

As well as performing death-defying acts, these seasoned entertainers know how to create the right atmosphere, and pride themselves on always picking the right soundtrack. “Music is an integral part in theatre and even more so in big illusion shows such as these ones.

“We also take a lot of influence from Penn & Teller, the two Vegas magicians,” Hume says. “We’ve got a similar style to them when it comes to comedy. However, it’s how well we are able to feed off each other during the shows, and how we’re able to incorporate both sides of the spectrum in all of our routines that is what I believe makes us so special and unique.

“As far as whether we work off a script or not, it’s an integral part in how we start our creative process. However, once we become more and more comfortable with the show, the script is pretty much thrown out the window,” he says. “A large part of our performances involve feeding off the energy that the audience gives us. We leave a lot of room to be able to work with whatever is thrown at us.”

The Showmen will perform two shows as part of Melbourne Magic FestivalThe GREATEST Magic Show will run at The Melba Spiegeltent from Monday July 2 to Friday July 6 and The Art of Magic and Illusion will feature at the venue on Thursday July 5 and Friday July 6.