Anything is possible when Dynamo’s here
Dynamo caught his luckiest break in getting an audience with Prince Charles. Now the British magician, who is friends with A-list celebrities, is back on TV with more mind-boggling and astounding tricks up his sleeve. This time, he has a tough audience with Samuel L Jackson, gets caught in Hurricane Sandy while in New York and relives his priceless memories while shooting for Dynamo: Magician Impossible here in South Africa, writes Debashine Thangevelo.
“IMPOSSIBLE” is a word that clearly doesn’t exist in Dynamo’s (real name Steven Frayne) vocabulary. The feats he has managed to pull off – from walking on the water of the River Thames, “breaking” Prince Charles’ fingers, walking through glass, levitating Lindsay Lohan, to moving someone’s watch tan line (up their arm) – have left people gaping in awe.
He is hailed as the most original British magician to emerge in decades and I managed to catch up with him on his hectic schedule.
He said: “I am stuck in traffic, but am good other than that. I might have to do some magic to make all these cars disappear.”
Dynamo was in South Africa last year, shooting scenes for the third season of Dynamo: Magician Impossible, which we will see on Sunday.
“It was really interesting because I had never been out there. I had been once before actually, but I had never been there to do magic before, so it was interesting to see the reactions of people and, also because my first series has been on TV already, it was really interesting just to be somewhere, I don’t really know the area, but the people knew who I am.
“That was exciting. The reception I got was amazing. When I got there, just from Twitter alone I was getting so many messages from the uni- versity that we had to pay it a visit and so many people turned out, it was so amazing.”
He continued chatting about the one episode shot here.
“It was filmed in Joburg, Soweto and Cape Town and I think we kind of captured the heart and essence of what South Africa is all about.
“I think the people of South Africa really helped to make that episode what it is. It’s one of my favourite episodes I’ve made and the response I’ve been getting about it, from people in England, Australia or wherever, shows that everyone is saying it is one of the strongest finishes I have ever done in all three series.”
So what makes it so special?
“We didn’t really stick to just the glamorous side of Cape Town. In Joburg we went to Hillbrow, which is obviously quite notorious. It was off the beaten track, we didn’t stick to easy places.
“We went to Khayelitsha in Cape Town, one of the townships, and it was really interesting going out there and see (not in a bad way) how they live on so little in the townships, yet the people are so nice and warm and happy.
“Even though some of them don’t have electricity, they don’t let anything faze them and it was a nice juxtaposition between being in a township and then being in a big city.
“The magic transcends the language barrier and the cultural and social differences. I think we really captured the warmth of South Africa. I think I want to come back, but when I’m not filming, when I’m not working to go over there and explore. I want to come and find the Big Five.”
Some of the other episodes were shot in Ibiza, New York and the UK, Dynamo said. “We had to have a little bit of fun in there, so me and my friends (Dennis, Gilera and Alfie), we took a little trip out to Ibiza and I’m not going to lie, there are many parts of that trip that I just don’t remember, but it was a damn good time and we really did bring the magic to Ibiza.
“It was very different from any of the other episodes, any of the other series. It was very organic and I just think Ibiza was a really fun episode.”
From feel-good to highly emotional, he admitted: “The most important episode and emotional was in New York City, which is one of my favourite cities in the world. I love it.
“I think the energy is incredible. So we actually got caught in Hurricane Sandy and we were stranded; stuck inside a hotel without power. It was really scary. It’s easier to be watching on TV and hearing about a natural disaster on the other side of the world. But to actually be in it, you can’t really describe how that feels.
“I think it did help shift the direction of series three. Initially the idea was to come back and show people how I had matured and evolved as a performer.
“After witnessing Hurricane Sandy and seeing the way New Yorkers came together to rebuild the city, it changed my perspective on things and I decided to make the series about the people and less about me.”
Despite performing to big-name celebrities and royalty, Dynamo had his work cut out for him with Hollywood heavyweight Samuel L Jackson.
“He is probably the biggest star I have had on any of the series. It was also the only time I have been quite nervous performing in front of a celebrity. I have been fortunate in my career to meet quite a few of my heroes, but when I met him he wasn’t an easy guy to impress. He was tough and made it difficult for me. But when you manage to cut through that tough exterior, you see the gentle side of Mr Samuel L Jackson.”
Dynamo continues to surprise by pushing the boundaries and adapting to his surroundings with tricks that set new records. In this world of illusion and magic, it’s easy to be utterly stupefied, so brace yourself.
• Dynamo: Magician Impossible airs on Discovery Channel (DStv channel 121) from this Sunday at 7.30pm.