The Centenary Dinner & Cabaret – 31th March 2009

Report by Richard Blackie.

One hundred and fifty people attended this special event, and we were treated to a wonderful evening of celebrations with quality food and top class entertainment.

As the evening started our toastmaster John Pye introduced our Centenary President Geoffrey Newton and his partner Vivien, as they made a grand entrance, accompanied by the guest of honour Rt. Hon Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market and Lady MacGregor.

Toastmaster John Pye.


Described as “the greatest show on earth”, we were then treated to an energetic circus style entrance by Barry Horridge.


Barry Horridge


He quickly moved around the tables making his way towards the stage. Once on the stage, and with a ‘bit of magic’, his wife Shelly and daughter Annabella suddenly appeared on stage next to him.

Following the rapturous applause, Rev. Major David Gray said Grace, as we sat back and enjoyed the evening, listening to music from each of the last ten decades, whilst enjoying the good food from the Irish World Heritage Centre.

The table centres were a work of art consisting of a ‘sawing a lady in half’ illusion (Barbie doll size) positioned on a top hat containing white gloves. Inside the top hat were other suitably scaled magic props. Rising from the hat was an Indian Rope Trick as well as a number of decorative balloons.

After the food our guest of Honour, Rt. Hon Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market was introduced, and spoke of the virtues of age in a humorous tone, before speaking about magicians throughout history and their links to Parliament. Referring to the history of The Order of The Magi, and to its future, he proposed a toast to The Order of The Magi.


Rt. Hon Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market



President Geoffrey Newton responded, making reference to the past 100 years and spoke of the society’s links to Manchester. Peppered with lots of witty comments, he thanked all those who have supported the society, and proceeded to present two awards for contributions to magic over the last 100 years. One was presented to The Magic Circle, accepted on their behalf by their secretary David Ball. The second award was presented to Davenports, and accepted by Roy Davenport.

Another, special award was presented to our member Barry Horridge for his tireless efforts supporting the society.

Geoff then presented a special thank you gift to his partner Vivien, for her untiring strength, support and inspiration.

As Geoff started to bring his speech to a close he talked about the international language of magic that enthrals, entertains and mystifies, before concluding with a series of puns.

Continuing with lots of very topical humour was The Magic Circle secretary David Ball. David made amusing references about Manchester, politics and banking before proposing a toast to the ladies and guests.


Magic Circle secretary David Ball


Vivien Jackson replied to the toast and spoke of her delight to be participating in the Centenary celebrations. She talked in detail about the role of a woman in the wizards world and how women participate in the world of magic. Describing the unconventional world of magicians and the distinct lack of female magicians, she spoke endearingly about women’s role in magic.

Magi Centenary President Geoffrey Newton

Following Vivien’s response, the Centenary cake was cut and slices were distributed to everyone present. This was followed by the auction of a bottle of House of Lords Claret donated by Lord MacGregor.

The raffle was next and then it was onto the cabaret for the evening.


Iain Ball

Ian Ball in suitable attire introduced the entertainment for the evening in the polysyllabic style of the Edwardian music hall era. Our entertainment started with humorous and entertaining magic from John Styles, followed by some magnificent manipulations from Roy Davenport. These manipulations included coins, thimbles and an energetic ring routine with a Spanish theme.


Roy Davenport

This was followed by more hilarity from John Styles, this time in the role of a Chelsea Pensioner, recollecting times gone by.

John Styles

This had us all laughing until we ached with a constant flurry of witticisms.

Our final act was Martyn James and Company, entertaining us with a variety of slick illusions and a touch of comedy.

Martyn James & Company


With the cabaret over, the mellow music of Dave Prentice concluded the evening, as we ventured home after a terrific evening.

(pictures courtesy of Walt Lees)