“Hi Stephen!” the email from Stephen Mulhern read, “I’m going on a bit of a tour called ‘Tricky TV LIVE’ and ‘The Stephen Mulhern Show’ and was wondering if you’d like to be a part of it?” I stood there staring at the screen, completely frozen. He wanted me to be a part of his tour?! I re-read the email. Then re-read it again, just to be sure.
Stephen, whom I’d spoken to several times since filming my small role in Tricky TV: Season 2, wanted to add a section with a young magician into his live, touring version of the show - and having seen a video of my classical act online, asked me to do it! I couldn’t believe it. This is incredible, I thought!
It would be running for 6 weeks and he was looking for me to perform 5 minutes of my act in the middle of each show. I was, as you can imagine, beyond excited and agreed to do it almost instantly! But only once I’d finished re-reading the email for the fifth time, of course.
Still unable to drive, my dad and I, along with the doves, made the 250-mile trip down to the bottom of the country for the first day of rehearsals. Stephen, a genuinely, properly nice guy, was there with the show’s production team, musicians and dancers, along with Paul Andrews; the producer and magic director from Tricky TV, who co-wrote and was overlooking the tour.
Now let’s not beat around the bush here: this was huge for me. Massive. Stephen Mulhern was someone who I’d grown up watching. The Quick Trick Show on CiTV was tremendously influential in my formative years, and really, to me, he was a proper celebrity. Someone who I admired and looked up to. To have him introduce me on stage each night and to just generally be around and learn from him was amazing.
He’d wrap the 3,000-strong audience around his little finger each and every night in a way in which I’d never seen anyone be able to do before. The little nuances; the slight differences he’d make between shows to adapt to that audience. He was absolutely in the moment.
It was remarkable to be a part of the show and utterly terrifying in equal measure. Waiting backstage, knowing I had 10 seconds before he'd say my name, were some of the most nerve-wracking and exciting moments of my career up to that point. What if it all went wrong? What would I do if something just didn’t work?
Thankfully, nothing major ever did - but the pressure of it really kept me on my toes. It’s funny how much an act, even one you’ve performed countless times before, changes when you start doing it every night. You’re able to start setting things up more quickly; you realise that just by waiting an extra 2 seconds before making something disappear, for instance, can make an audience go from applauding to gasping. I learnt more on that tour than I can possibly put into words.
The 6 weeks ultimately came to an end, and I look back on it with enormous fondness. Having said that, embarrassingly, I had no idea that thank you gifts were a thing at the end of a tour. Whilst the other cast and crew gave me and each other some lovely, well-thought-out gifts, I found myself having to improvise with the only thing I could find in the car at the last minute…
A Tesco Meal Deal and some chocolate covered raisins, anyone?