The ILLUSIONISTS – Tremendous Show!
I’m still battling jet lag so I figured instead of tossing and turning in bed I might as well write a blog post!
I had no issues at all with jet lag when I flew with my Cunard Cruise group to London, England but it certainly hit me after my return to Canada . I’m “slowly” getting over it. I thought that a 5 hour time change wouldn’t affect me too badly so I didn’t bother taking my, “No Jet Lag” pills on the flight home – obviously that was a mistake – I should have known better….
Very early yesterday morning (instead of sleeping) I make a last minute decision to take my nephew, Schyler out for the day as an extra Christmas treat.
During one of my past Mystery Journeys we visited Pittsburgh, PA and one of the tour inclusions were tickets to see the touring Broadway Show, “The Illusionists”. My group ended up raving about the production and so did I.
It’s currently performing with a NEW cast at the, “Princess of Wales Theatre” in Toronto until January 7th. I purchased a couple single seats (one behind another) for Schyler and I as I knew it was important to be close to the stage for this show and they were the best I could get.
I picked Schyler up at 830am and he tried to guess where we were going but I kept him in suspense – this was Schyler’s One Day Mystery Tour.
Traffic was no issue until we got close to Toronto and then my GPS directed me to the 407 toll-road to avoid congestion.
There were a whopping 3 Illusionist shows scheduled yesterday. Along with 1323 others we attended the earliest, 11am performance.
As great as I thought their Pittsburgh production was, I felt this one was even better and if you can get tickets I highly recommend that you do. I was looking forward to the show but the main reason for going was to treat Schyler. This production ended up being so fantastic it was a real treat for me too.
“The Illusionists” is a fast paced variety type production featuring 7 performers from around the World – Scotland, Australia, Britain, South Korea…
Schyler and I both agreed that the Deductionist, “Colin Cloud” was our favourite performer. He considers himself to be a Forensic Mind Reader and I still can’t believe what he is able to do on stage. This year he made it to the Semi-Finals of televisions, America’s Got Talent. His solo show at the Edinburgh Festival (some of you have been there with me) sells out yearly and he is consistently voted in the top 3 of over 4000 fringe festival acts. I certainly hope that I can one day see his entire stage show. He is just incredible!
Raymond Crowe thrilled the audience with his intricate shadow puppetry.
Charlie Frye comes from a family of circus entertainers. He joined Ringling Bros. many years ago and may be the finest juggler I have ever seen.
The Daredevil, Johnathan Goodwin was lit on fire as he hung upside down in a straight jacket. We could feel the heat of the flames from our seats. He quickly got himself out of the jacket and then doused the fire out while still hanging upside down by himself with an extinguisher…..
An Ha Lim is known as the Worlds Best Manipulator. His card magic shocked everyone when 1000 cards beautifully appeared from the tips of his hand.
Darcy Oake represented Canada well. He is the Grand Illusionist of this production and is from Winnipeg. His Dad inspired him with a card trick at a young age and now Darcy carries the tradition of classic Illusion with a Rock-Star Edge. I was impressed.
The lady sitting next to me told me her favourite performer in the show is Jeff Hobson who she saw on stage in California and my group watched in Pittsburgh. He is the epitome of glamour and showmanship – a true Vegas act.
Yesterday’s early 11am performance was advertised to attract a family audience and ran without an intermission – 90 minutes.
When we left the theatre the first thing Schyler said was that he would come back to see the show again – he gave it a big thumbs up!
We walked around the corner of the theatre for lunch at PAI – which is consistently rated as one of the top 5 restaurants in Toronto. I’ve blogged about it before. We had a 20 minute wait to get a table and during our meal we watched a steady stream of patrons lining up to get in. This 155 seat restaurant serves the best Northern Thai food in the city. It’s located in a basement but has a down-home, funky feel that is warm and inviting. The couple that run it met in PAI, Thailand so that is why they picked that name. Their cuisine attracts a young crowd. Tables are close together. Sitting next to Schyler was a very well-known guy that he recognized right away. Schyler didn’t tell me until he got up from his table who it was. This Toronto based Internet YouTuber has over 6 million subscribers! Schyler showed me his on-line picture and sure enough it was him.
There was one small disappointment with my meal – they no longer offer Lemongrass Ice Tea – when I asked the waiter about it he told me that it was just me and one other who ever ordered it – smile! Of course he was joking but there wasn’t enough interest to keep it on their menu. I originally tried Lemongrass Ice Tea when I was with a group of mine in Thailand. Drinking it at PAI always brought back so many amazing travel memories.
After our delicious lunch I didn’t think that Schyler would want to eat anything else but he remembered me talking about another trendy place just a stone-throw away from where we were called, “Sweet Jesus”. It’s claim to fame is their unique ice cream creations so Schyler asked if I would buy him one.
In the summer there are long lines to get into this place but when its -20C out there is no line! When we walked into this small shop we saw that, Jeff Hobson who we just watched on stage in, The Illusionists was waiting for his order. I started talking with him right away and he was overly friendly. He told us there are currently 4 different, “The Illusionist” productions running around the World. He typically is hired for the North America runs. Jeff gladly posed with Schyler for a couple pictures so stopping at, “Sweet Jesus” for ice-cream was a treat in more ways than one. When I first tried Sweet Jesus Ice Cream they only had this one location – but this success story is expanding to 20 locations throughout Canada including 1 in the States!
I wanted to check out a pop-up store that we drove past on our way to the theatre. The space featured men’s blazers from a Toronto designer whose clients include many celebrities. It was fun trying on a couple of his one-of-a-kind creations.
The day flew by and it was time to get Schyler home. I parked in the lot under Roy Thompson Hall. As Schyler and I started walking down the steps to the garage, a man passed us and when he got to the top of the stairs he yelled down my name, “Bradley Walters”…
I turned and said YES. He explained that he had traveled with me a couple years ago and they were sad to hear that I NO longer was organizing travel tours….. I asked, “WHO TOLD YOU THAT?”. I already knew the answer as I have heard this many times from others. I climbed back up the stairs and handed him a business card. He was so happy and said his wife will be so excited to hear that they can still, “Travel With Bradley”.
As you know its been word-of-mouth that has let everyone know about, “Travel With Bradley” so please continue to spread the word. I very much appreciate you telling others as there are still so many just like the man we met yesterday that have sadly been told that I am no longer in the tour business….
Later today I can’t wait to meet my, “New Years Eve Mystery Tour” passengers! The coach will be filled with devoted regulars that have been traveling with me for years. I have a BIG waitlist for this getaway but unfortunately the main destination hotel I am using could only accommodate 1 coach. It’s next to impossible to get a group into that hotel which remains 100% occupied year round. I was shocked but really pleased that I was able to snag space during this destinations busiest time of the year (yes, that is the only mystery tour hint I am giving). Up until a couple days ago they were going to have to put Betty (our coach driver) into a hotel across the street as they just did not have room in the Inn, but I constantly called them until I finally got a good-news email that they can finally accommodate her so gladly the entire “travel family” will be together!
I’ll do my best to write blog posts as we travel so be sure to follow along!