Abra-Viagra gets SA in stand-up mood

Comment on this story
TO NDR Abra4

AFTER touring the world, two international entertainers, illusionist Ricki Gray and comedy magician Stephen Cloete, are reuniting on stage in Abra-Viagra, which is set to be performed from this weekend.

It’s been 14 years since the duo performed together on a Durban stage, and the revived and refreshed show also marks their first tour together in KwaZulu-Natal.

Gray and Cloete hold impressive CVs, having entertained people across the world, even in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas.

In Abra-Viagra, audiences are promised mind-blowing illusions, magic, stand-up comedy, audience participation and side-splitting laughter.

Among a host of achievements, Cloete’s career has seen him visit more than 66 countries. He’s worked as an entertainer and cruise director on more than 500 cruise ships, and has entertained more than 1 million people over the past decade.

Gray is one of the few illusionists in the world to have been invited to perform for Queen Elizabeth.

Tonight caught up with Cloete to find out more about the show and its revival after 14 years.

“I’ve known Ricki for a very long time through our common interest in magic. My speciality is comedy-magic, while Ricki’s is illusions. We’ve known each other professionally for decades.

“One of the first times we had the opportunity to work together was on a cruise ship, and it was on the cruise ships that we actually started writing material that allowed us to work together.

“Eventually we built up a show which we performed around South Africa and some neighbouring countries. It was very successful.

“That was about 14 years ago, and subsequent to that we’ve kind of gone our own separate ways.

“Because of my extended break (from the cruise ships), this time around we decided to revive the show. Abra-Viagra was last performed in 2000. It’s a fresh revival of the show, with updated material and illusions,” he said.

The show will open in Durban this week, before moving to Pietermaritzburg. It is hoped more touring will take place at a later stage.

“Both of us are specialists in our fields. I tend to focus on providing the comedy feature, although many facets of Ricki’s show are also comical. But my side of the show is more stand-up orientated, with some comedy-magic and a lot of audience participation and interaction, whereas Ricki concentrates more on the illusions. He provides the glamour,” he laughed.

“We are bringing our own specialisms to the show, and there are going to be times whem we actually perform together, which I’m very much looking forward to.

“Working on the cruise ships, I very rarely get a chance to perform publicly. I’m always working on ships, and I don’t have much time on land. The public have never seen my show in this format.

“They either have to come and see me on a cruise ship, or alternatively I get booked for a lot of corporate events, conferences, MC-ing, and that sort of thing, both locally and internationally. So this is the first time that people will be able to see my show in 14 years.”

Known for his sharp and witty style of comedy, Cloete said the audience could also expect a lot of audience participation.

“The wonderful thing about audience interaction is that, although I have a skeleton of where I want to go, the audience adds the meat. So a lot of it will be impromptu.

“In fact, if people enjoy the show and choose to come and visit on another evening, they are not going to see exactly the same show. It’s very much based on the audience.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to interact with the audience, to the extent that they can actually feed you what they find to be funny, and then I improvise on that.”

Commenting on Gray, Cloete said he had the most incredible international experience.

“We work very well together. We are very much on the same wavelength, but we are still able to bring in our unique talents to create a great variety of show. It’s not just going to be comedy, comedy, comedy, comedy… there’s going to be that ‘wow factor’ of amazing magic and illusion.

“We’ve called the show Abra-Viagra simply because a lot of people associate magic with being for kids. But this is not a children’s show. But it is suitable for the whole family, as there is nothing crude or rude in the show. Magic has often been seen as a very old-fashioned form of entertainment, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. It can still appeal to young and old across cultures.”

Gray is a man of few words when it comes to talking about his illusions, and rightfully so, lest the audience be robbed of the wow factor he’s known for delivering.

That said, we did manage to get some info out of him: “I’ll be doing work that has not been done here before. I’ve had to work hard because I’ve been to the Rhumbelow Theatre before, so I wanted to bring something different. I don’t want to give anything away, but one of my illusions was designed and built in Las Vegas, and it is definitely, without question, the only one in South Africa.”

 

• Abra-Viagra stages from May 18 to 25 at The Rhumbelow Theatre in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. On May 18, at the Pietermaritzburg Theatre shows are at 2pm and 6.30pm. From 23 May to 1 June shows run at the Durban theatre; Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 6.30pm with an additional show at 2pm on June 1. Tickets are R120 per person (R100 pensioners and tables of eight or more. Bring food picnic baskets.

To sign up for our Tonight newsletter click here

To vote on our Tonight poll click here


sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.