During a hectic week of performances for Showzam! Romany Diva of Magic took time out to talk to Claire Griffiths about her show, her inspirations and her love of Blackpool.
Tell me about who you are and what you do?
My name is Romany Diva of Magic. I’m a magical entertainer specialising in theatrical stage magic.
What’s your background and what brought you to magic?
I had normal parents who took me to dance and music classes. I was starstruck as a child and desperately wanted to be on the stage. I wasn’t allowed to go to stage school and went to university instead and got a proper job in BTs graduate management scheme. I lasted six years before I left to follow my dream of performing. I started courses in clown, circus and magic and started off as a street performer.
Your show is really unique, would you describe what you do as magic or something else?
It’s just what is in my head. It’s my version of magic. Really it falls short of what I would like to create but without TV camera tricks or a huge budget, I’m a little limited.
Who and what inspires you?
Showgirls, great actresses, (Vanessa Redgrave, Dame Judi Dench, Glenn Close) great female comedians (Patricia Routledge, Lucille Ball) and musical stars (Lisa Minelli, Judy Garland, Dolores Gray).
Do you feel you are in a male orientated world doing what you do and how do male magicians respond to you?
I definitely am in a male orientated world, there are very few female magicians. Many of the male magicians are my friends and very supportive and I suppose that another percentage probably don’t like my style, but hey, each to their own!
How do you think the female experience differs from the male experience in your world?
Hmmm, I’m not sure. No, I don’t think the female perception of magic or ‘magical’ is very different to male but certainly I have to adapt the evolution of nearly every trick to fit female clothing and movement.
What has been the highest point of your career so far?
MC-ing the Showzam! ball in the Blackpool Tower, complete with eight Pleasure Beach dancers in feathers choreographed by the amazing Antony Johns, was a truly amazing experience for someone who had always dreamed of being a dancer but who didn’t. Just recently I also MC-ed a huge ball for a thousand people in Dubai on a ginormous stage. I hadn’t even dreamed of doing gigs this big and exciting and it’s just a complete honour to be asked and to perform at them.
Blackpool is often given bad press. What do you think of the town?
I love it. I identify it with fantastic shows, with showgirls, lots of creativity and support for artistic development. I’ve worked with Showzam! for the last six years and look forward to February every year. I must say that I’m always super busy working on the shows but I also bring my bike up and cycle along the sea most days and it’s just beautiful.
Showzam! is an awesome event – how does it compare to other arts and theatre events you have been involved in?
It is an awesome event, it’s one of a kind. I’ve never actually been in any other theatrical event that comes close. Professor Vanessa made a fantastic job of building it up and I know that Chris Pope and his team will keep that up. I’m completely grateful to have been included, it’s really had a huge influence on my work and artistic development.
If you could give advice to young hopefuls following in your steps – what would it be?
Be yourself, be dedicated. Forget about the money side of things, money will come but you have to be true to your dream. The best quote that encouraged me when everything I did seemed stupid is from Martha Graham, the contemporary dancer: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
How long is the show on for in Blackpool and what times can we catch it?
I’m at The Sands until Saturday 23 February at 7.30pm nightly. There are tickets at the box office.
Who would be your dream support acts if you could choose anyone from any era?
Wow, what a fabulous question. Can I have Judy Garland? She might be a hard act to follow! What about the two tap dancing Nicholas Brothers from Harlem in the 1930’s? That would just be amazing!
Finally where can we keep with you, your shows and all things Romany?
My web site is www.romanymagic.com and I’m Romany Diva of Magic on Facebook which I use a lot especially to wind down after a show and when I’m on the road.
Like what you’ve heard? Read Sandra’s review of Romany Diva of Magic’s show at The Sands for Showzam.
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