We catch a few magic moments with last year’s BGT finalist Darcy Oake who comes to Wolverhampton Civic Hall later this year.
When Siegfried & Roy gyrated around the big Vegas stage – all teeth and hair and oiled, mahogany tan chests – magic took on a new meaning.
Their ability to draw huge crowds came from more than a talent to make things disappear or tame a lion. In some strange way, they had star appeal that transcended the joy that could be found in an old-fashioned ‘abracadabra’ moment.
After the showbiz stage careers of the pair ended abruptly in the noughties following an incident involving the jaws of a tiger, magic needed a new superstar.
The sleight-of-hand illusions made famous by the likes of Penn & Teller couldn’t cut it, and this gave way to more psychological performers such as David Blaine, who captivated a worldwide audience with his contemporary, urban tricks.
Though the cool, street-magic had its place, the gap left behind on the big stage echoed. Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee just weren’t cutting the mustard, and magic needed a new face.
And what a face it found.
When 27-year-old magician Darcy Oake took to the Britain’s Got Talent stage last year, no one was particularly hopeful.
Yes, he looked the business – stylish and boy-band handsome – but what could he really show us that we hadn’t seen before?
Well, loads as it turned out. Amanda Holden was, naturally, enamoured from the outset but the joy came in waves as the illusionist seemingly conjured up doves out of nowhere.
Though he didn’t take home the winner’s prize, Darcy made it all the way to the final with his jaw-dropping escapism and logic-defying stage magic.
Now, a year on, and as the talent show returned to ITV on Saturday night, Darcy is himself making a return.
We caught up with him ahead of his first UK tour, Edge of Reality, coming to the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on September 22.
“I’m standing behind you right now!” joked Canadian Darcy, when we call him to ask where he was and what he was up to.
Moving the receiver away from our face, we do a quick shufty around the office, but he’s nowhere to be seen.
We want to know how preparation’s going for his 14- date stint. He’s in London, we’re told, but after seeing him on BGT, we know that anything is possible.
Perhaps he’d poke a finger down our ear through the phone . . .
So, how is Darcy feeling about coming back to Blighty?
“I love coming back to the UK,” he says.
“Everyone’s so welcoming. Because of Britain’s Got Talent, people are quite excited to see me, so that’s great.”
We count ourselves in that number, particularly after seeing Darcy on television over Christmas.
“Britain’s Got Talent was great, and the ITV Christmas special that I did was an amazing experience.
“Going on Ant and Dec’s show was great also. There are quite a few highlights in my career so far, it’s so hard to pinpoint just one thing. I do one thing and then it’s straight on to the next.”
His life as a magician started at an early age.
“I started out as a kid doing a trick or two, and I just never really grew out of it. I started doing shows and quickly realised that I loved that – I loved being the centre of attention and performing for people.”
He made the journey from his native Winnipeg just to take part in BGT and attempt to break through to a wider audience.
But Darcy had tasted success before, becoming an international magic champion when he was just 16, beating experienced magicians and winning the coveted People’s Choice Gold Medal.
The panel on the ITV show offered Darcy nothing but support – something that can’t be said for all performers.
“The judges on Britain’s Got Talent had nothing but nice things to say about me, and they were always really kind. Going off my own experiences, I don’t have a bad word to say about any of them,” he explains.
After losing out on the title to Collabro, Darcy had to hammer out his own road to success, working on his new-found fame to take his show out on tour.
The success meant, however, that his personal life was brought into the public domain. In 2011, his older brother Bruce died of a drugs overdose, but Darcy didn’t talk about it during his time on the show.
“My family history leaked out and the media skewed it to show something that wasn’t true.”
He’s referring to the story that he’d use his BGT winnings to set up a charity in Bruce’s memory.
“That’s not true. At the time I didn’t talk about my family because I didn’t want to manipulate people into liking me for that reason.
“I want people to enjoy my show and my illusions, not like me because of hardships I might have had in my life.
“My family have been running an addiction facility project for around five years. The exposure I’ve had has spilled out to Canadian markets and that has helped the cause a little bit, but it was never the intention.”
Darcy doesn’t mind the media attention that comes with being a celebrity, though.
“There are good and bad aspects to being talked about. I’ve never hidden anything and have nothing to hide. I don’t mind what people say, I just don’t like it when it’s wrong and something’s printed that isn’t true.
“I’m an open book, and I talk openly on social media and have never hidden any part of my past. It’s part of the job.”
For now though, Darcy’s mind is on the job at hand – the tour.
“I’m trying hard not to recycle any illusions and we’re working to keep everything fresh. I want to give audiences something new.
“We’ll come up with a cool idea and try and do it. You can’t force creativity, and sometimes it doesn’t come right away. That can be really stressful when you’re working on a deadline! We’re just constantly working, all the time. On this tour, I’’ll take on classic illusions and theatrical stage performances.”
Are there going to be any huge surprises, we ask, harking back to the David Copperfield days of disappearing elephants? “Maybe!” laughs Darcy, “you’ll have to come along and find out!”
We say our goodbyes and, shazam, we make our plans to do just that.
By Kirsty Bosley