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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Pardon me, sir... » » KOOZA'S Pickpocket a Hit in Montreal! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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jlevey
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My wife and I were fortunate to have seen Kooza's show last Thursday in Montreal. The show packed up last Sunday, and (I believe) will head out on world tour soon.

My apologies for the short review. Suffice it to say that the Kooza show as/is magnificent!

The cast, set design and storyline were fantastic.

My wife and I were treated at the end. We went back stage and met up with (and chatted with) Kooza's brilliant director, David Sheiner, and one of the primary clown characters (The King --Gordon White), both of whom I knew well from my time spent with Le Cirque's initial Kooza workshop.

You can check out the link to the show at: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com

The show's pickpocket, Michael Halvarson, was indeed superb --top notch, very skillful.

In the show, Michael incorporated a set of very large bright yellow spongeballs to cover his watch steal. He performed this effect with the volunteer's wrist palm up, then with Michael's hand grasping over the top of the volunteer's upturned wrist, Michael made the steal in an instant. He also stole (and wore) the volunteer's eyeglasses and stole some cash (bills -- no wallet) from the volunteer's pockets. It was interesting forme to note that the cash could have been put-pocketed (since I'm not convinced that this particular volunteer would be the type to carry such a large amount of loose cash) --of course, it doesn't matter, since --if the volunteer had the cash, then Michael could have pickpocketed this as well. The important thing is that his routine and interation with the volunteer was very entertaining.

Michael's timing of the steals,and his personage (ie. slippery, albeit charming theif) were strong , and he stole the volunteer's necktie nicely at the end, to great applause (--I had hoped he would steal his shirt!).

The only negative side that I experienced was that during this particualr show (Thusday, 4pm) I felt that the chosen volunteer was a bit sluggish in his responses. He lacked any of his own charisma --unfortunate, because it would have amplified the fun, but (as you know) what the audience didn't know, they didn't miss.


Still, as described, Michael and his pickpocketin was a hit with the audience, and will surely help to furhter theatrical Pickpocketing as a wonderful form of entertainment.

You can check out Michael's own performance site at:

http://www.halvarson.com


If you have the chance to see this show, please do... you will not regret it!

With best regards.

Jonathan
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jayaweera
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How long did he perform for?

And so he got a spectator up, did sponge balls and then pickpocketed? Is that it.

Josh
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jlevey
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Michael had a strong character character role (slippery thief/clown/balloon sculpteur on the run from police) and "popped up" throughout the entire show. He often ran into the audience, handing out ballooon animals, adding to the mischief and mayhem, and interacting (all the time) in- character. Towards the very end of the show, he brought a volunteer up on stage and did what I described above. Performing center-stage, roughly 5-10 minutes of by-play together while stealing the various items (described above). That was enough to support the development of his persona --into a full blown thief,demonstrating his skills and pickpocketing abilities, and endearing himself to the audience.

Hope that gives you a better idea. Perhaps others that have seen the show might add their comments and perspective, as well. My guess is that his routine changed slightly from night to night.

Best regards,

Jonathan
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DWB
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I hate to bump such an old thread, but this summer I've had the opportunity to be touring with Kooza (nothing major, just a lowly usher at this point).
But I've gotten to see Michael's act on a daily basis, and I have to say that his and the juggling act are the two acts that I always look forward to. He is truly amazing, and the audience gets a kick out of it every time. I've seen Michael deal with some truly belligerent spectators (men taking everything out of their pockets before they go up on stage, men attempting to ruin his spongeball routine, etc.) and he always rebounds and plays it on the fly; a true pro.

-Drew
jlevey
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Thanks for the update Drew.

I agree, Michael is one top-notch performer.

Jonathan
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James Harrison
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Hey Jonathan, by chance do you know if the schedule says if they will hit Toronto?
jlevey
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Hi James.

Unfortunately, it does not seem like Toronto is in the stars for Kooza --at least not in the near future.

According to the Cirque's site ( http://www.cirquedusoleil.com ), Kooza's tour schedule is set as follows:

Chicago, IL
June 26 to August 10

Boston, MA
Sept. 5 to Sept. 28

Washington, DC
October 30 to November 16

Atlanta, GA
Winter 2009

Baltimore, MD
Spring 2009

New York, NY
Spring 2009

Perhaps you might want to plan a trip to visit Boston in September.

Jonathan
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DWB
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Sadly, Michael will no longer be filling the role of the pickpocket in Kooza. Cirque is currently working with a new pickpocket, from England, and the whole act should be back on stage in a week.
JaY-JaY Pickpocket
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DWB, that is sad that Michael is not going to continue with the show. As a fellow perform I can understand how it is. Pretty much the show has cancelled him out for any other gigs (private parties, corporate events) for over a year. And for a fantastic performer like Michael, it is a big desicion.

Who will the pickpocket from England be? James Freedman? I just hope they get someone with the same enthusiasm and energy as Michael. A lot of performers can pickpocket though to entertain while doing it - is another story.

Thanks,

JaY-JaY
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DWB
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From my understanding, Michael just couldn't devote the time to Kooza that he needed while taking care of a family. It was an honorable decision, and I'm just glad it doesn't look to be a messy situation.

No one I've asked knows the new pickpocket's name offhand, only that he is larger than Michael, which isn't saying much, haha
JaY-JaY Pickpocket
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Only know of James Freedman....

We will see.

Where did you get the info that Michael is not continuing with Cirque?
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James Harrison
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Keith 'The Thief ' Charnley is another pickpocket in England. He was on the special Paul Zenon's Tricky Christmas.


He's not bad, has some different techniques that seem unique to him.

Worth checking out.
DWB
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Quote:
On 2008-07-09 03:40, JaY-JaY Pickpocket wrote:
Only know of James Freedman....

We will see.

Where did you get the info that Michael is not continuing with Cirque?

See above post, I'm touring with the Cirque
JaY-JaY Pickpocket
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Sorry Drew.

Yeah thanks for the info.
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DWB
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UPDATE:
The new pickpocket is Lee Thompson. He's a VERY large Brit, I'd estimate around 6'6" 250, shoulders as wide as a car. Intimidating man to be walking around as a clown.

He has a much darker style of humor than Michael, and stole a child and used him as a shield against a canon-full of confetti. He definitely has to refine his routine a lot to fit in with the show, but it looks promising.
jlevey
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Thanks for the update Drew.

Best wishes for a continued great run.

Regars to Gordo.
Jonathan
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James Harrison
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http://www.pickingpockets.co.uk/

Here's Lee Thompson's website
rich_illusions
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Hi all,

I have some up to date news about the new pickpocket in "Kooza", Lee Thompson - DWB was nearly right, Lee is a big chap, he's 6 foot 2ish, but the nicest bloke you could hope to meet, not intimidating at all!! I've worked with him and seen him perform many times in the UK, he's top of the tree as far as I'm concerned. My friend works for the Creation team at Cirque du Soleil on "Kooza" and he said that Lee only had 4 days to learn the whole show - he was thrown into the deep end and went straight into the show on Wednesday!! Apparently they are changing the Pickpocket character daily because the Director David Shiner wants to go back to his original idea of the Pickpocket being greasy, a bit darker and a bit more cheesy - they want him to be a sort of bad clown/wheeler dealer/dodgy second-hand car salesman/buffoon. They also wanted to cut the act down to ONLY 3 minutes(!) which I think you professionals out there will agree is just too short, that's a hard slot at the best of times, let alone to a full 3000 seat auditorium!

I've seen Lee steal most things - all types of watches, pocket contents, belts, glasses etc and is a very funny pickpocket, as I say I've seen and worked with him loads of times, and he still makes me laugh out loud. I'll be flying out later on in the year to catch the show, I can't wait, reports are that's it's fantastic!

I have E-mailed Lee but he hasn't got back to me, Drew you say you work on the show? If you see him (he's a very friendly guy) please tell him to e-mail me, he's been performing for over 20 years so I'll try to get him to come on here and share any tips he has, to get first-hand info from a Cirque lead performer would be worth a read I reckon!! Incidentally he also runs JL2magic which I'm a big fan of, they do an awesome himber and a 'scam' wallet, all top notch.

So there you have it, as I say, I can't wait to see Lee in action, he's a proper pro, I've got no doubt he'll more than fill his predecessors shoes... :o)

Rich
JaY-JaY Pickpocket
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Hey Rich,

thanks for the info about Lee. I would love to hear his thoughts on pickpocketing and this show.

JaY-JaY
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DWB
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Thanks Rich!
Yes, Lee is slowly refining his act,and it's definitely better than before. At this point, his character is a lot different than Michael's. Lee seems to incorporate a lot more improvised humor into his, while Michael had more of a set routine
There are some funny stories about the show being switched around to use Lee. The end of the pickpocket act had to be completely changed. The original ending had the pickpocket being thrown in a paddy wagon, and then he eventually dissappears from it and reappears in the crowd. Well, Lee was far too big to fit down the trap door so they had to scrap it completely. And yes, the act has been shortened significantly. But I expect good things out of Lee.

At the level I am (but in the vying for a promotion!) we don't really interact with the performers when they're not in character. So unless I run into him while taking out the trash in between or after shows, I probably won't get to talk to him much. Although my supervisor (who found out I was a magician said she'd see what she can do. But if I do run into him, I'll definitely ask him.

Oh, and here's Michael's pickpocket act:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td5mosywxxY

(Technically violates copyright usage laws, so if you're not into that, I'm just giving you a heads up)

P.S. Lee seems to be a really cool guy. He once helped me find a audience member illegally taking pictures before the show started! But when you see a 6'2" linebacker looking clown barreling down a wheelchair ramp in your direction, you panic!
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