Backstage at Llandudno Summer Shows (part one)

We’ve been involved with the summer shows for Happy Faces at Llandudno Town Hall for the last four years, but this year is the first time that I took a camera backstage with me. I thought it might be interesting to give you a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes.

I was the Stage Manager for the Thursday show this year, Those Were The Days, which meant that I was in charge of setting the stage and scenery, having all the props ready at the right time for each performer, and generally trying to make sure that everything backstage went as smoothly as possible.

This is what the stage looked like on a Wednesday for Seaside Special. The backdrop had to be taken down and replaced with the station backdrop, then various pieces of camouflage put up, and sandbags laid along the front of the stage. We also had an old-fashioned radio and a lamp in front of the stage for one of the scenes.


During the show, the majority of the props were kept in a little alcove just beside the stage, so they could easily be taken on and off stage. I made this fake bomb months ago; it got a little battered by the end of the season, but considering it’s only a football covered in papier-mâché, I think it survived quite well!


This the little dressing room that Jay and I used during the summer.

As you can see from the notes on my copy of the running order, things got very busy during the show, which made it really important to make sure everything was in the right place at the right time. The notes in red are Jay’s costume changes, reminding me to get the right costume ready for him; and the notes in green are details of which props were needed for each scene, when to turn the smoke machine on etc.

Despite being so busy, I did manage to get some pictures of Jay when he was on stage.


Part Two is coming soon, with pictures of Jay’s different costumes, including one rather special outfit…

International Brotherhood of Magicians Convention in Great Yarmouth

At the end of September we travelled all the way to Great Yarmouth for the annual convention of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

The convention took place in several different locations on the seafront in Great Yarmouth, including the Britannia Theatre and  Long John’s Showbar (both on the Britania Pier), the Hollywood Cinema and the Marina Centre.



We go to Great Yarmouth nice and early, and handed our trophies safely back to the organisers.

Although we didn’t enter the stage competition this year, Jay entered the Ali Bongo Micro Marathon. The Micro Marathon is a fun, friendly competition, but Jay still wanted to make sure that he looked his best!

The British Ring have very kindly let us use two of their photographs of us at the convention:

Members of the North Wales Magic Circle in the dealers hall at the IBM convention in Great Yarmouth.
Jay performing at the Ali Bongo Micro Marathon at the IBM convention in Great Yarmouth.

For more information on the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magician, visit their website (, their convention website (, or “Like” their Facebook page (

As well as being busy at the convention, we decided to take some time off to enjoy the attractions of Great Yarmouth.

We played adventure golf at Pirates Cove:

We went back in time at Yesterday’s World:

And we explored the depths of the ocean at the Sea Life Centre:

We had a brilliant time, very relaxing, and full of magic!

Trophies and Conventions

It’s been almost a year since we won the Dittia Shield and the Theo Speaker Cup in the stage competition at the annual International Brotherhood of Magicians British Ring Number 25 convention in Southport.

This year’s convention is in Great Yarmouth and we’ll be taking the trophies back with us, ready to be presented to the next winners.

I wanted to make sure that the trophies were handed back in the best possible condition, so I spent a morning last week cleaning and polishing them. How do you think I did?


While I was cleaning them, I had a good chance to read all the names of the previous winners, and it’s amazing to think that we’ve been added to them.

 There are some well known names on there, including Ali Bongo, president of the Magic Circle, adviser to Paul Daniels and David Nixon, and one of the inspirations for Jonathan Creek; and John Archer, the first magician to fool Penn and Teller on their television show, Fool Us

Some of the names are probably less familiar to most people, but are greats in the world of magic – Ron MacMillan, founder of the London magic shop; Walt Lees, editor of the only weekly magazine for magicians; Roy Davenport; Scott Penrose; Brian Sefton.

One name on the trophy has special meaning for me. We have a family tradition that every year we go to the pantomime on Boxing Day. In 1998, it was Cinderella, and Buttons was played by Dominic Wood. He performed magic in the pantomime,  and from that moment on I was hooked. Fourteen years later, and I’m on the same trophy that he won!

The trophies are all safely packed away in their carrying cases, ready for the drive down tomorrow. We’ll tell you all about it when we get back!

What we’ve been doing this summer

It’s been a while since I posted anything on the blog, so here’s a quick round up of what we’ve been doing.

We were medieval magicians in July, doing street magic on the quay in Conwy, and we also took part in the Conwy Jester Weekend in August. The lovely face painting was done by Kaleigh from HTC Entertainments.

It hasn’t been all outdoor work though; we were part of the Rachel Silva Show in Rhyl Golf club in July, and of course we’ve been continuing with the summer season. Those Were the Days, the 1940s/wartime show went on the road in August to take part in Penmaenmawr’s Wales at War 1940’s weekend. We performed in the community hall, and it was great to see so many of the audience dressed up, it made a brilliant atmosphere!

 We spent a day outside Asda in Llandudno, helping to raise money for their community fund and promoting our show, Illusionary. You can see more photos of the day on the Asda Green Room website.

The show itself took place on the 1st of September in the Orme Suite in Venue Cymru. Featuring High Jinx, Harley and Elemental, together with Dean Raymond and Joe Daly, it was a great night, and we’re very grateful to everyone who helped make it a success.

There’s three more weeks left of our summer season with Happy Faces Children’s Charity in Llandudno town hall. Tickets are still available for both shows, Seaside Special, and Those Were The Days. (Please note, Jay and I won’t be there on the 26th and 27th of September, as we’ll heading off to a magic convention.)

And what will we be doing next? Well, we’re back in the Tynedale Hotel in Llandudno at the beginning of October for another of their Variety Breaks, and we’ve also just started work on a project for a local car dealership. We’ll tell you all about it soon!

Illusionary – Venue Cymru 1st September

Gatling Magic presents in association with Venue Cymru Fundraisers, the first ever Illusionary: An Evening of Magic and Illusion. A fabulous family show, with astounding close up magic and a superb stage show.

Illusionary: an evening of magic and illusion

Featuring two award winning magic acts, including High Jinx, as seen on ITV’s “Penn and Teller’s Fool Us”, and the high-paced, colourful and exciting magic of Elemental, as well as a selection of close up magicians.

During the first part of the evening, see the impossible up close, as magicians Jay Gatling and Michael Jordan and others perform incredible magic at your table.

After the interval, the action moves to the stage, with a show featuring the award winning magic acts of High Jinx and Elemental: you won’t believe your eyes as an amazing world of magic unfolds before you.


Following the magic, there will be a retro disco for you to dance the night away.

Adults £10 Concessions £7.50 Family £32.50

Tickets on sale now from Venue Cymru Box Office: 01492 872000

Saturday September 1st at 7.30pm, in the Orme Suite at Venue Cymru, Promenade, Llandudno LL30 1BB

Important Message: If you are planning to come to see Illusionary, please make sure that you buy your tickets in advance, rather than waiting until the night, as the theatre need to know what numbers to expect.

You can get your tickets from the Venue Cymru website, by telephoning their box office, or by calling in to the theatre in person.