Magician Nick Wallace invites us behind the curtain to chat about Séance

Looking for the perfect evening to kick-start the spooky season in Toronto this month? Magician Nick Wallace’s theatrical production, Séance, on now at Theatre Passe Muraille until October 11, might be ideal. We tracked down the baby-faced illusionist to get the scoop on the show. 

What’s with the interest in contacting dead people? And how does one acquire an interest in such pursuits?
The short answer is I don’t. The long answer is my goal as a magician is to make people invest in the moment. I don’t for a second want or expect an audience to believe I have any special powers, but just like a good film or a good piece of theatre, in the moment I want them to be invested … in Séance. I want an audience to be thinking, “I know this is just a show, but what if….”

What is the goal of the production or are you just trying to scare people?
One of the goals was to create an experience that Luke [director and co-creator Luke Brown] and I would want to go see. I’m a big fan of good, creepy horror films. Not slasher films, but the kind that get under your skin and stay with you. We wanted to see if we could do that live.

What is the most difficult part of the show?
The biggest challenge is not knowing how an audience will react. It is a very interactive show, which means there are a lot of unknown variables. It can be very unpredictable.

How do you decide what person becomes “the medium” for the evening?
In the end, it is a random selection, but I do narrow it down to people who I think will be most open to the experience.

The theatrical setup is key to the Séance show.


How did you develop the concept of the show?
I was acting as “magic consultant” for a production that Luke was directing on horror author H. P. Lovecraft. I mentioned that I always wanted to do a theatrical séance. He confessed to me that he grew up in a haunted house and always wanted to be a ghostbuster. The rest is history.

What do you enjoy most with regard to performing Séance?
It is very, very fun scaring nice, innocent people.

Were you one of those Ouija board lovers as a teen?
I was always the guy who was moving the planchette while saying, “I swear I’m not moving it.” There is always one of those guys.

Why did you get into magic?
My grandfather was a big gambler. I can remember finding marked cards when I was very young. It must have planted a seed. I have always been into facsimiles — things that seem real but are not. It was either going to be filmmaking or magic.

And what kind of tips can you offer to those hoping to contact the dead?
Have lots of patience. You can talk to the dead all you want. It’s getting them to talk back that’s tricky.

And how is your show not running over Halloween?
The schedule just didn’t work out, but it’s still in time to get you into the Halloween spirit.

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