Magician Steven Frayne, better known by his stage name Dynamo, is famous for his jaw-dropping stunts including apparent levitation, walking on water and all manner of disappearing acts. Ahead of his forthcoming Belfast shows GRAEME COUSINS caught up with the enigmatic star
The News Letter met the Bradford-born global sensation at the Clayton Hotel in Belfast and chatted about his upcoming visit.
Dynamo explained (without giving too much away) how he plans to transfer his up close and personal street magic and large scale stunts into a show fit for an arena.
He said: “That was the biggest challenge. I wanted to do an arena show that’s intimate. I feel we’ve created exactly that. I’ve created a show where it feels like you and me are having a conversation, but on a grand scale. There’s no other show on the planet like it.”
It’s been planned for eight months, rehearsed for two and boasts it’s own director, high-tech lighting designer, up-to-the-minute screen system and specially commissioned music score.
“There’s no other magicians doing this. I don’t see myself competing against other magicians. I’m up against entertainers like Jay-Z and Beyonce. It’s not like a Vegas magic show with lots of big boxes and props. It’s a very stripped down show.
“It’s all about audience participation. There’s parts that 5,000 people are doing magic at the same time.
“I’ve designed the stage so that no matter where you are sitting you’ll be able to see everything that’s happening on big screens all around the arena.”
He added: “My nan has a cameo. She steals the show every night. The whole narrative is based around my grandparents and how they got me started in magic.”
Before he became Dynamo, he knocked about Bradford as Steven Frayne. He had a tough start in life. His mother was 17 when she gave birth to him, his father didn’t stick around and having Crohn’s disease didn’t help matters. He lived in a rough estate and was bullied due to his tiny stature. However the torment he suffered brought about his first foray into magic when his great-grandfather taught him the ‘making-your-body-heavy’ trick. Try as they might the bullies couldn’t shift him when Steven made himself a ‘dead weight’.
Given his medical condition, his humility and the ability he has honed to pull off the most stunning of illusions - there are some who believe that he’s more than just a magician - he’s actually magic, the closest we have to a real life superhero.
And even if you choose to believe he’s just a bloke who does tricks, few can argue with the assertion that he’s one of the best role models on the globe.
The great news for fans in Belfast is that Dynamo doesn’t plan on barricading himself into a hotel when he’s not performing.
He said: “When I’m not doing the shows I want to check out a few of the hot spots in Belfast. I’ve been to Belfast a couple of times for TV spots, but only for a day. Between the dates in Belfast and Dublin I’ll be in Ireland for nearly two weeks.
“I’m looking forward to getting a proper look around. Normally I’m only somewhere for a day and then I’m gone again but because I’m here for a nearly a week I’ll get a really good look at Belfast and the people here.”
Dynamo explained that he doesn’t do tricks on demand in much the same way as a comedian doesn’t crack a joke every time he’s asked for one by a random person in the street who recognises him off the telly. As he puts it - there’s a time and place for magic.
However, as anyone who’s seen his TV shows will attest, Dynamo is very much a person at one with his audience.
“I’ll do as many selfies and autographs as I can,” he said. “I want to give as much time to my fans because it’s those fans who’ve got me where I am. I owe everything to my audience.
“I’ve got my security team with me when I’m out and about though I’ve never felt my security is at risk. It’s just in case things get too overcrowded.”
One place Dynamo is guaranteed to visit in Belfast is the cinema.
“I watch two films a day,” he said. “I like to get lost in movies. I love going to the cinema. It’s one place where you can sit with the lights off and people don’t ask for magic. That’s how I relax.”
Of the multitude of films he’s seen recently he picked Hateful 8 and American Ultra as his favourites. His most loved movie of all time is Back To The Future. And, who knows, he could be making films himself one day.
“I own my own production company and you’ll see from the TV shows that we put a lot of emphasis on production,” he said. “We treat Magician Impossible like we’re making a film.
“Because I love films I might make or direct a film in the future. It’s a possibility. I’ve everything in place.”
Despite his love of film Dynamo is yet to see the new Star Wars movie. Although he did get a very exclusive sneak peak of the film.
He explained: “I was on the set when they were filming Star Wars. I’m friends with JJ Abrams (Force Awakens Director) and he’d invited me along. I didn’t have a cameo in the movie but when I get round to watching it I’ll be able to pick out the scenes I saw being filmed and say, ‘I was just behind that wall when they filmed that’.”
When asked if he got more of a buzz out of the execution of a magic trick or people’s reaction to it he said: “Probably the reaction. I get the same buzz as the audience gets from that element of surprise. The atmosphere in the arena where you’ve got thousands of people reacting at the same time is impossible to recreate anywhere else.
“When you’re doing street magic it’s to small groups. For the large scale ones you’re disconnected from the people watching. And when you’ve got people watching on TV you’re not seeing the reaction at all. But to be in the same room at the same time when people react to a trick is the best feeling in the world. It’s why I want to do more of the arena shows. It’s why I love doing what I do.”
- Dynamo will perform at the SSE Arena Belfast on March 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 (Sunday matinee show). Tickets are available via Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.uk) and via the SSE Arena directly (www.ssearenabelfast.com/).