Coming off the back of 50 sold-out shows for The Illusionists 2.0, entertainment extraordinaire Raymond Crowe has turned his creative eye to another new project. He is about to hit the stage at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival for his new show, The Unusualist.
It’s an appropriate title for a performer who’s taken it upon himself to master far more than a single art. Well-versed in the realms of magic, mime, ventriloquism, shadow puppetry and comedy, Crowe will undoubtedly offer another incredible experience this time around.
“I just did a show called The Illusionists 2.0 in January,” he says. “When we were doing that at the Opera House they said, ‘What about doing your own show?’ The Illusionists was such a high-tech show; this is more like the acoustic set. It’s cheaper and smaller, but with a lot more heart, I hope.”
Considering the responses to the show in country NSW and Victoria thus far, it clearly is full of heart and resonates with a myriad of different people. “We call it an adult show that children like,” says Crowe. “We get people from the age of seven years old, and even one guy who was 92 came up to say g’day afterwards.” The universal appeal seems to stem from the fact almost everyone enjoys a performance involving both magic and simple, yet elegant talents. “The form is quite an innocent one,” Crowe explains. “Most people say that the show’s ‘charming’, and I think that’s a great description for what I do.”
One of the most striking things about Crowe is how talented he is in multiple areas of discipline, something he has worked hard to achieve. “I’ve been doing it for so long and have been fortunate enough to keep developing. A lot of people specialise, but I think I’m a specialist at what I do. Everything I do is my own work.”
Crowe has had this drive since he was young, and attributes his initial interest in performance to various factors. “When I was a child I liked physical comedy, such as Charlie Chaplin, so over the years I thought, ‘Maybe I could try and do that.’” When it comes to the hand shadows that have made him a YouTube and television hit, Crowe explains, “I have an old book [on hand shadows] that was given to me by an old magician back in 1986.
It was written way back in 1902 and he ended up leaving it in a pigeonhole for me. I just wanted to see if I could do them. I also wondered whether you could do them for adults.” Considering the immense popularity of his hand shadow performance to Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’ during last year’s Australia’s Got Talent, the overwhelming response to that question is ‘yes’.
Although he doesn’t want to give too much away, Crowe does divulge a few details about the new show. “We have a contract with a world-famous performing flea, Maurice. He will be performing nightly.”
“I sort of use ventriloquism, but I don’t use dolls,” he adds. “I use people and objects, which I think is a lot more fun.” Animals will also make an appearance in the show. “We catch live goldfish in the audience, but we look after them very well. We toured with seven goldfish for a month and I’m so proud that by the end, despite the rigorous driving everyday from town to town, every goldfish survived and ended up much bigger than before we started.”