Dagenham born magician fostered in Romford after losing parents wows audiences with online show
- Credit: Archant
A magician who has performed all over the world has devised a show online to avoid becoming a “Muggle” after the coronavirus struck the entertainment industry.
Like many performers, Chris Fleming – who was born in Dagenham and raised by his foster family in Romford after his parents died – saw work disappear as the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
But the 32-year-old, fed up with watching Netflix for weeks and keen to continue his passion, created an hour-long interactive performance to keep the magic flowing through his veins, unlike the magic-less Muggles from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Chris said: “I spent two months of lockdown being a Muggle. To be performing again feels amazing.”
The former St Joseph’s Catholic Primary pupil picked up his passion for entertaining from mum, Christine, an opera singer, and dad, Philip, a DJ, MC and “very show-biz”.
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Christine died of cancer when Chris was nine and his father died, also of cancer, four years later.
But their love of performing lives on in their son who developed an early taste for the stage performing in pantos at Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch.
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After studying music at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, Chris continued acting and dancing before getting into magic after meeting Hertfordshire based magician Lee Smith at a party eight years ago.
Lee took Chris under his wing to develop an interest which developed after his dad showed him magic tricks as a child.
“From then I started performing magic. It was fun to show friends, then I got to a point where people wanted to book me and it became a side hussle,” Chris explained.
But his big break came after meeting fellow magician Zlwin Chew from Kuala Lumpur backstage while working on a cruise ship.
Zlwin offered Chris a part in his own show. The pair hit it off so well that Chris joined his fellow performer in the Malaysian capital for five months doing magic full time.
When Chris returned to the UK he carried on performing, including at weddings, corporate events and on cruise ships. He has even appeared on liner Oasis of the Seas, one of the largest passenger ships in the world.
He has wowed audiences all over from Australia to Russia to South Africa and the USA.
But that all ended when the pandemic struck.
“A year’s worth of work was cancelled at the click of a finger,” self-employed Chris said.
At the start of lockdown, Chris was at a loss as to what to do, but the idea struck him to move online.
After a month of putting material together and trying it out on friends and family, Chris created the kind of show which allowed him to keep the personal touch of his usual performances.
He describes his style as “grown up magic” and mind-reading, far from the stereotype of a children’s party magician.
Up to 100 people can take part in the shows, which are performed live via the video app Zoom.
“I’m so proud of the show. Even after social distancing has gone and, touch wood, everything is back to normal, I would still offer this,” Chris said.
“There’s nothing quite like live entertainment. Minus the socially distanced events you see, this is probably one of the most viable ways of doing it and supporting performers,” he added.
And he said that for less than the price of a takeaway per person, participants can get an hour’s worth of entertainment that brings everyone together no matter where they are.
“The thing that makes me happy is seeing people laugh and have fun,” Chris said.
Free for readers, Chris has created a special video teaching two magic tricks. To get the video all you have to do is go to his website and send an email mentioning the newspaper, with the subject “I want to learn magic”.