Magician Ryan McFarling is bringing his IMPOSTER magic and illusion show online, as well as teaching a brand new magic course called Wizardry 101 as part of local summer school programming
In 2019, magician and trickster Ryan McFarling basically sold out a season of his IMPOSTER shows at Gateway Casinos Sault Ste. Marie.
His 90-minute magic performances combined music, expert sleight-of-hand and witty storytelling in front of a live audience.
“It’s where magic and music come together to create a unique experience, unlike anything you have ever experienced … with the singular goal to entertain you.”
McFarling calls his IMPOSTER performance an “escape” from day-to-day life.
The overnight-success is the result of working tirelessly at his craft for almost three decades and taking his interactive approach to magic to audiences across North America.
When McFarling first launched IMPOSTER, and it was a success, he felt a sense of relief that people connected to it.
“We worked really hard on Season One, and for it to be so warmly received was a huge relief,” he says.
“This show was, and is, a continual work in progress. Every night we would learn something new and fine-tune the act. We have a lot of moving parts in this show, and everything has to be perfect for the magic to happen.”
When McFarling first began discussing the concept of creating an interactive live show with his team, made up of musicians Frank Gioa and Frank Greco (Frankly Speaking), collectively they each knew they wanted it to have a personal feel.
“It had to be warm and inviting, but at the same time mysterious and mischievous,” says McFarling.
“We didn’t want to perform to an audience that just sat back and watched. We wanted everyone to be involved one way or another. We talk to the audience, not just at the audience … and they answer.”
McFarling believes that it is that intimacy and honesty of the show that resonated with people.
“I have a great team around me and we all wanted Season One to be a success. Because of everyone’s dedication, it was.”
So it was no surprise when Season 2 of IMPOSTER, An Evening of Stolen…We Mean Original Magic Tricks was announced.
“We added a number of new pieces to the second season that definitely raised the bar,” he says.
“With guidance from some of the best sleight-of-hand artists in the world, I was able to put my spin on some illusions that had never been seen or done before.”
He wanted to make sure there was plenty of new magic in the show to bring back repeat audiences, but he also included some of the favourites from the first season.
When the pandemic first hit and forced the cancellation of live performances, McFarling and his team looked at going virtually.
“The pandemic had an interesting impact on magic and magicians in general,” he says. “It forced us to think differently about what we do.”
McFarling realized that because of the style of the IMPOSTER show he developed, it lent itself well to being virtual.
“Creating a virtual show with a live virtual audience is very different from the snippets of cool magic tricks that you see on Instagram or Facebook,” he says. “But there are some challenges.”
One of those obstacles is creating the same intimacy that exists in a live, in-person performance.
“It takes some creativity. It’s a technical problem that requires knowledge of television broadcasting and cameras.”
McFarling and his team found the solution and are in the final stages of working out the kinks in the show.
“This show will be different than what you would see if we were in-person, but the goal is to have the outcome be the same. We want to make you smile, laugh and be amazed.”
Looking back, McFarling feels he should have been working on similar virtual options pre-pandemic.
“We are all connected by the internet and not everyone has the opportunity to come to where we are,” he says.
“With careful planning, we can now bring the show to your computer screen or phone or tablet. From a show business perspective, this opens us to a global audience and the reward of that potential exposure far outweighs the work it takes to get there.”
McFarling hopes to launch the virtual show by mid-August.
The intent is for audiences to be able to click on a link on McFarling’s website, purchase a ticket just like they would for an in-person performance and attendees will receive a link in their email with a password that will launch the show at the designated time.
Thinking virtually provided another unexpected opportunity for McFarling: to teach Wizard School 101 to summer students in the district.
“Nadia Zanatta, the Summer Program Coordinator for the Huron Superior Catholic District School Board contacted me and asked if I had a virtual show available for her students,” he says.
“I told her I did and suggested a virtual magic program called Wizard School 101.”
The program, divided up by age groups, focuses on developing fine motor skills, confidence building, problem-solving skills and public speaking.
“We spend 30 to 45 minutes together developing a magic trick,” he says. “It’s interactive and the kids can ask all the questions they want. The engagement is awesome.”
McFarling notes that the principles and techniques taught in the magic lesson can be applied to other areas of the student’s study.
“It is a fun way to put a practical spin on some otherwise theoretical concepts… Mrs. Zanatta thought it would be a great fit for the Summer Learning Program.”
According to McFarling, who also teaches private magic classes, the response for the course has been “fantastic.”
“It’s an interesting approach to learning and I am hoping to have other school boards take advantage of this program.”
He also offers virtual magic performance for parties and functions.
“Even as the circumstances around Covid-19 change, a virtual magic show will be an entertainment option you can take advantage of.”
Even with his excitement around the new virtual options for his magic, most of which will most likely continue post-pandemic, McFarling can’t wait to get back to performing in front of a live, in-person audience again.
And not just for the magic.
“It is about the audience,” he says. “It is different every night because the audience determines where the show goes and how we get there. That is my favourite part, to be honest.”
McFarling notes that live shows will return when it is safe to do so.
For more information on IMPOSTER or Ryan McFarling, visit his website here.
You can also follow him on Instagram @ryan_mcfarling, on Facebook at Ryan McFarling or send him an email at email@example.com.