Interview with Sam Hume, co-founder and executive director from Showmen Productions

"The biggest thing I am always most grateful for in terms of my upbringing, is that I had parents and a family who would always support whatever endeavour I was undertaking – they would drive me hours to perform a one hour show for a primary school, and that same night help me with my homework!'

Interview with Sam Hume, co-founder and executive director from Showmen Productions

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

My name is Sam Hume – I am the co-founder and executive director from Showmen Productions. We are an independent production company based in Melbourne, Australia.

How would you describe your show?

The two shows we are bringing to Edinburgh this year – The Greatest Magic Show and Adults Only Magic Show – are very different from one another as the name suggests!

Our Family Show, The Greatest Magic Show, was created as a family magic show unlike any other that was currently out there in terms of the uniqueness of the routines, comedy, magic, and the pure scale of the show and production.  

The Ringmaster (played by Magnus Danger Magnus) commences the show with a story told through song in which he explains he has travelled far and wide to find The Greatest Magic Show but after being unable to, he decided to make his own instead! A rollercoaster ride of spellbinding magic involving the two magicians as well as the ringmaster at times sees all sorts of craziness ensue including incredibly Vegas-style illusions, giant pairs of underpants on faces, a child from the audience being transformed into a magician themselves, and an inspiring finale in which we encourage all the kids (and big kids) in the audience to pursue whatever they want in life no matter how weird or different their dreams may be.

Our 18+ show, Adults Only Magic Show, is essentially exactly as it sounds – an incredibly impressive magic show with adults only humour at every twist and turn! We have taken the very best effects in the business, and compiled them all into this 65 minute performance where everything is combined with 18+ humour and whit throughout all of the routines. Both our favourite magicians growing up were Penn & Teller, and this show shares the same style of Adults Only humour as displayed by the world famous duo. We have the very best of mentalism, close-up magic, illusions, and an extremely dangerous routine in which both Justin and I both race to escape with the loser quite literally having to ‘reveal all’!!!

What is your favourite part of your show?

My favourite effect in our family show is certainly the finale piece we perform the finish, in which both Justin, Magnus and I are able to break the fourth wall and talk directly to everyone in the audience about the importance of believing in yourself, never giving up and following your dreams – all the while performing mesmerizing pieces of magic which have the whole audience on the edge of their seats! These are scripted words which would have inspired me so incredibly much had I heard them as a child, so I hope to inspire even just one child every show we perform.

As for Adults Only, our favourite routine has always been our second last piece of magic that we perform in which – without giving too much away – both Justin and I get to perform our version of a sexy strip which finales with us ripping off our press stud jeans at the drop of a famous Britney Spears song, revealing an IMPOSSIBLE prediction underneath. This is my favourite part of performing the show, and is the part most commented on by audience members we meet and take photos with after the show.

If your show had a theme song, what would it be and why?

Our absolute favourite pump up track is ‘Man, I feel like a woman’ by Shania Twain so I would probably suggest that?! 

Other things that come to mind would be the Benny Hill theme music – since both our shows are such controlled chaos in how we involve the audience that neither us or the audience has a clue about what is going to eventuate one show to the next!

What is one thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?

The biggest compliment that we ever get after our shows, is that the audiences can really see from the moment Justin and I set foot on stage our raw passion and enjoyment for what we do, plus the completely natural way we are able to bounce off one another and the synchronicity of everything we do. We know each other just as much as we know ourselves, and it is the way our friendship shines through during our shows – while both of us are doing the one thing which we love more than anything else - that I think will leave the biggest impact on our audiences.

If you could add a surprise celebrity cameo to your show, who would it be and why?

We have a few celebrity references in our Adults Only show – so because of that I would have to say either Channing Tatum or Britney Spears to join us on stage for a song and dance! That would be absolutely insane to get to that level one day!!

As for The Greatest Magic Show specifically, would have to say Hugh Jackman cameo-ing in his complete get up from The Greatest Showman – because I mean obviously that would be beyond amazing!

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Our first Edinburgh Fringe was back in 2019 with our family magic show, and have been absolutely just jumping out of our skin to get back! 

We really gained our footing in this industry through the Fringe circuit – being able to bring our shows to audiences all around Australia first and now internationally – and Edinburgh Fringe really is the magnus opus as far as fringe festivals go so it just made sense for us to try our absolute best to get out here! 

To be able to travel back there this year with not one, but two of our productions surrounded by some of the most incredibly talented performers in the world is an absolute dream come true, and I just hope that we can bring joy and happiness to the audiences of the fringe this year after almost three years of troubling times around the world, showcasing what we do best!

What differentiates it from other festivals?

The pure grandeur of the festival makes Edinburgh stand high and above the other fringes in the world, and there is just something so special and unique observing all the bustling crowds (sometimes in their millions over the month!) rushing off to see another world-class show, the excited buzz just palpable all around. 

What is one thing you would change about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Honestly there isn’t much that I could change! Perhaps to not programme so many shows at the same time as ours so that I could actually catch a few more amazing shows every year! That is of course unrealistic!!

The fringe does such a fantastic job of accompanying for all audiences and there really is a spot for just about any performer or show at the Fringe. The energy in the streets is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – it is totally my happy place!

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

The biggest thing I am always most grateful for in terms of my upbringing, is that I had parents and a family who would always support whatever endeavour I was undertaking – they would drive me hours to perform a one hour show for a primary school, and that same night help me with my homework! This allowed me to really start in the industry at a young age, producing my first live show when I was only 14, and so by the time I hit 18 and got exposed to the reality of life having ti pay rent, bills etc. I was already in a position where I had grounded myself in the industry and was in a more flexible position to chase my dreams.

As far as education I always loved school and loved business – I have a bachelor degree in Marketing and have worked alongside some great producers and performers in Australia which has given me a lot of the knowledge I have today – but I am always still learning as we all are!

What is your favourite thing about performing for a live audience?

The smile on people’s faces. It sounds corny but its absolutely true - It has always been a great mantra within our company to go out and perform each and every show as if it was your last. As if it was the last show that the audience will ever see! We give 110% to every single one of our shows – no matter the weather, or how we may be feeling, or anything else. Every show is equally important because that is the show that your audience members chose to see. We give them everything we have and leave it all out on the stage!

And meeting people after the show and hearing how they enjoyed it, what parts they loved most, hearing them resonate with ideas that you have perfected over years within the show, that is simply the absolute best!

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while performing?

There’s been plenty of instances in our Adults Only show that comes to mind! Quite a few instances of over ‘handsy’ audience members, plus the occasional audience volunteer up on stage who looked a lot more sober sitting down in their seat when we selected them to be involved!

The countless number of children we have had up in our family show that have broken out into an incredible dance routine, performed a magic trick with our Free magic wands right there and then to our audience, or even a pair of volunteers breaking out into a ‘floss’ contest!

Regardless every show is amazing and we meet all our audience members wherever they are at and work from there to make each routine in the show as best as it can be! 

What's the most challenging or unconventional venue you've ever performed in, and how did it impact the overall experience?

When we were first starting our family show, and something we still do to this day, is offer free 15 minute performances to primary schools within Victoria of The Greatest Magic Show where we would travel to their school and perform for the kids! We have consequently performed in our fair share of churches, gymnasiums, and class rooms  where sometimes the only accessible room for a dressing room or ‘backstage’ during our performance has been a toilet!

The other main venue which comes to mind is where we performed our Adults Only show for the first two years in Adelaide – the Masonic Lodge. This was essentially a headquarters for Adelaide Freemasons and the building had been there for I think at least the last century? There were countless hidden rooms, designated parking spots for the ‘Grandmaster’ of the freemasons, as well as a ‘ladies room’ where the wives of the freemasons would presumably spend their time while the men would discuss whatever topics that freemasons deal with – world domination perhaps? 

We are always extremely flexible with our show, and make just about anything work! The fourth wall is perhaps broken more often than not in challenging venues – but we pride ourselves in our authenticity with our performances so the audience knows exactly what we are trying to work around!

Is there a piece of feedback you've received from an audience member or critic after a performance that’s stuck with you? 

“It wasn’t adults only enough”

THIS! It was honestly the piece of feedback we received which caused us to completely adjust our ceilings as to how far we could take our Adults Only Magic Show – we always tried to keep things a bit reserved, a bit tame, but now we are comfortable pushing people’s comfort zones and taking things to the next level just from this one piece of feedback when we first debuted our Adults show! 

What is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh when you're not performing? How do you relax and look after your mental health?

My favourite thing to do when not performing is absolutely see shows – I know that sounds a tad ‘workaholic-ish’ but when you are performing an afternoon and night show every day for the Fringe you take every chance you can get to see shows!

We also love the beach, sightseeing, and just spending a well deserved afternoon in a classic Edinburgh pub with friends is a fantastic way to reset and recharge! 

We always stay in touch with our friends and family back home plus love to spend time with fellow performers just existing and doing things that non-performers do in the day – head to the park for picnics, see the sights, catch a movie. Anything we find to recharge!

Is there a show you’re excited to see when you’re up there?

Well this might be a bit biased, but Edinburgh Fringe is always an incredible opportunity to catch up and reunite with so many of my long-time friends that I have made through years performing on the Fringe circuit, with so many talented performers I have had the privilege of forming friendships with presenting their own shows this year at the fringe – such as Railed by Head First Acrobats, and Fake Wizard by fellow Australian magician Dom Chambers. I love being in the audience of shows by these people I know so well, watching them strut their stuff and doing what they love to do! 

Also a special shout-out to our close friends from The Hairy Godmothers who are bringing their amazing shows “Dizney in Drag” and “WET” to Edinburgh for the first time this year! These guys have just done a world tour of around 10 countries and are always such incredible fan-favourites over in Australia – I can’t wait to see them in front of the Edinburgh crowds!

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about taking a show up to Edinburgh? If you’ve never been before, what would you say has been (potentially) the most useful?

I would say the absolute main thing is that you have to back yourself and have confidence in the show you are aiming to bring there. By putting yourself out there as either a show or individual performer, and just being in that city for the month of August, you can only ever move forward.

Don’t expect the hard work to be done for you in the way of audience numbers just because it is the biggest fringe festival in the world, hit the streets, do your research, and make sure you have an eye-catching hook and marketing to stand out amongst the thousands of other shows that grace the city each year.s

When and where can people see your show?

The Greatest Magic Show is in the George Square Gardens every day except the 16th and 21st of August at 2:30pm; while Adults Only is just across the road in the Assembly Studios every night except the 21st August at 9:15pm.

And where can people find you online?

They can of course find details on the shows through either the Edinburgh Fringe or Assembly Festival website, plus we are also findable on all social media platforms if you search the name of the show, or visit our company website at showmenproductions.com.au

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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