Brad Bond has been fascinated by trickery, sleight-of-hand and the mystery of illusions since he received a magic kit from his grandparents as a Christmas present when he was 10-years-old.
But for him, this has never been child’s play. Bond, now 16, has approached the craft like a professional, painstakingly working on his technique, delivery and persona. That work has paid off.
The Grade 10 Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School student was one of three youths chosen – more than 1,000 auditioned from coast to coast – to host The Thrillusionists, a ground-breaking magic show set to make its debut next month.
“It’s almost surreal,” Bond says of his new gig. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was very young.”
The series will debut May 4 on cbc.ca and Rogers on Demand. While Bond is unable to reveal details about the show or shed any light on the tricks that will be featured, he said it’s “a really cool format that is definitely worth checking out.”
Created and executive produced by Adam Rodness and Stu Stone, The Thrillusionists is a series of 10 five-minute segments. It “follows kid illusionists as they seek to pull off a number of challenging magic tricks at locations including Ripley’s Aquarium, the set of CBC’s The National and on-court at the Toronto Raptors stadium, Air Canada Centre,” says a media release.
He and his two co-hosts spent four days each week in Toronto over an eight-week span in February and March filming the segments. He was amazed at how much work went into creating an engaging, entertaining five-minute clip.
“We worked 12-hour days … it was very hard work and long days,” he said. “I loved every minute of it.”
He said it’s a quantum leap from his days putting on shows for his family.
“I went from doing shows for my family, to children’s birthday parties to festivals … that really helped prepare me for performing in front of a big crowd.”
His proud dad, Greg, says his son has developed a dynamic stage presence that is TV-worthy.
“He’s this youthful, fun kid with sick magic skills and a great personality – that’s why he was chosen from over 1,000 kids from across Canada,” he says.
That’s not to say it came easy. His dad said Brad “would sit in front of his mirror in his room for hours to see what the trick would look like to the audience. Other kids would be out playing in the street and he would be working, practicing, perfecting.”
He is also a sponge, constantly trying to soak up tricks of the trade from others. His interest in magic was intensified when he started watching Criss Angel and David Blaine; he has fond memories of poring over their work on YouTube videos.
A student of the craft, “he was very quiet when he first started,” said Greg, noting his son was focused intently on the mechanics of the magic. But upon watching performers on America’s Got Talent, the young magician had his eyes opened.
“Howard Stern was very vocal, telling the magicians that you have to be quick, you have to be vocal and you have to be funny,” he said. “It took about three years to develop” his own schtick.
“I wasn’t really shy I was just concentrating on the magic, wondering how people would react,” he said. “Once you master the magic, it’s not that you put on an act but you get to know what you’re going to say, getting those funny punch lines down … it just takes time.”
It’s time the youth, who also continues to play sports and achieve good grades, is willing to invest. He admits he’s a bit consumed by becoming a world-class musician.
While sitting in class, he says his mind often wanders as he tries to conjure up magic tricks from the items within his reach.
“I’m trying to get more into everyday magic,” he says. “For example, if I’m at a restaurant, I try to think about a trick I can do with something at the table or at school, just using what’s available. I’m always thinking about what I could do to psych out the class a bit and do some magic.”
He hopes the show proves popular, is renewed for a second season and is expanded to half-hour episodes. It’s already opened doors. The show’s director has offered to be his manager and help find him an agent; he believes the sky’s the limit for Bond.
“I definitely hope it’s a platform to bigger and better things,” said Bond. “I’m hoping for more shows, more seasons of The Thrillusionists. Who knows? Maybe movies someday. It could be anything.”
For now, he continues to work hard to refine his technique, to study others. “I know I have to stay relevant to trends and what’s going on in social media,” he said. “Maybe there’s a way to make magic off the trends. It’s all about getting yourself out there. I think a lot of people are going to see this show … I’m just waiting to see what happens next.”