It’s the summer of 1988 and Russ Stevens, then star of the magic show at Mystique Showbar, has fallen ill.
A young apprentice working the tables with close-up magic steps into the breach - and wins rave reviews not just from the local press, audience but professional magicians watching too.
Abracadabra - a star is born.
Lancashire lad Craig Christian was 19 when that happened. Fast forward to the summer of 2016 and Craig’s travelled the world as an illusionist (or actor playing the part of a magician, as he puts it) with Elizabeth West at his side, very definitely an illusionist in her own right. They live in Germany.
Now the pair are back to present Evolution of Magic a series of dynamic magic shows at ... the Horseshoe Showbar at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. They have come direct from Illusionarium 2.0 in America.
The pace of magic and style of magic has changed and Craig with it was slick and quick back in 1988, ready to take on the fast moving floorshow after a brief rehearsal. Now he’s an accomplished street magician. Urban magic rather than urbane - “the old top hat and tails days have gone” says Craig, who did his share of that starting out.
It’s a skill which can take you anywhere. Even Simon Cowell admits he ‘believes’ in magic. Craig and Elizabeth believe in putting on a good show, and nonplussing those, often at close quarters, convinced it’s all ‘smoke, mirrors and magnets’.
This season they propose to saw someone - no volunteers, as yet - in half. That old chestnut? Yes, but no barriers between the human pin cushion, to put it mildly, and the audience. There are also plans for a very Blackpool stunt later in the season - on a much larger scale.
They like their magic stylish, cool and edgy, much as they are. “We also know there’s a hard core of magic fans in Blackpool and want to show them what we can do - as well as convert more to magic,” adds Craig. “The Horseshoe is there for locals as well as visitors and tourists.”
They are doing Saturday and Sunday shows initially (6pm) - before extending the run Mon to Fri (selected dates). Tickets from £10. The show runs to September 11. Box office 0871 222 9090 or blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/evo