Making a splash!
Meeting Matthew Cook is magic. His persona and tattoos tell a story of magic and enchantment and certainly, his smile tells it all. Not only is he a magician in his own right but he won the South African Magic Championships in 1999 when he was only 15 years old. He created and performed a full-stage illusion act themed around The Phantom of the Opera and obviously brought the house down. At the time, he was a student at the College of Magic in Cape Town, where he spent five years honing his skills to perfection.Matthew’s background in entertainment includes managing of artists and events, creating of activations, and performing and directing. This makes him the perfect local producer for a show like Splash! The Water Circus. Being with Matthew is like remembering when the circus came to town and the ringmaster promoted the shows by parading through the main street. ‘My love of circuses started way back and in 2002 I was offered the opportunity to be a ringmaster. At the same time, another offer from an entertainment agency came
There are so many ‘ta da’ moments in the show’
Matthew’s background in entertainment includes managing of artists and events, creating of activations, and performing and directing. This makes him the perfect local producer for a show like Splash! The Water Circus. Being with Matthew is like remembering when the circus came to town and the ringmaster promoted the shows by parading through the main street. ‘My love of circuses started way back and in 2002 I was offered the opportunity to be a ringmaster. At the same time, another offer from an entertainment agency came along, and being quite young, I thought that the prospects were better and, parents being what they are, they suggested that maybe a stable job was better than a dream.’ His life’s journey has been filled with magic, entertainment and making people smile as he has been sought after from one entertainment venue to the next. ‘It was time for me to break loose and follow my dream – that of producing a local circus, and through that dream, came the opportunity of producing an international show, locally. After many months of searching for a unique show that would be guaranteed to push the boundaries, I found the concept of a circus on water that could be presented in a Big Top Tent! After all, that’s what circuses are all about. The smell of sawdust and the sound of the tent flapping in the wind. That’s what we all see in our imagination when we talk about the circus and the Big Top.’ Matthew approached the Tsogo Group as they have a national footprint of venues across the country, and especially in the smaller towns where they actually wanted to put up the Big Top. ‘Silverstar was the perfect launch pad for the show as they have the Globe Theatre which in itself is a large tented structure. Although the West Rand started as a mining town and has grown into a large metropolis, its people remain small town at heart.
‘Small towns are almost always excluded from entertainment productions as they don’t have the footprint the internationals need to make financial sense.’ However, Matthew’s approach is just like him … different. He hopes to travel for 64 weeks covering most of South Africa, and the small towns are his number-one priority.
Matthew enthuses and laughs as he tells the story of the acts you can expect to see in the show. ‘There are so many ‘ta da’ moments in the show, it’s hard to identify which one is better than the rest. From the Russian Swing to the Wheel of Death, from the synchronized swimmers to the laser and fountain displays, you will be glued to your seat – except when you stand to applaud these amazing acts. It is unique in that there is no other show in the world like it. We have put together acts from around the world and together they make up our South African Splash! The Water Circus. Like the magic and illusion of David Copperfield, we make the audience gasp in fear and suspense. We designed the flow of the acts in such a way that everyone feels like they are part of a magical journey. Although we encourage children’s participation in the show, we do not encourage them to do it at home.’
Matthew’s hopes for the future are to ensure a long run for the show and create more magical entertainment for all ages from the gold mines in Piet Retief to the entertainment meccas in Joburg. ‘I would like to not only continue to bring new and different shows from across the world to South Africa but I would like to be producing shows with South African talent to take across the world – there are so many talented artists in our own country. Developing and training local artists are a real passion for me!’
Did you know:
Favourite magic trick: Nuts and Bolts – a small pocket trick using everyday nuts and bolts.
Best entertainer: I don’t even have to think about this … Cher!
What is your tipple at night before you go to bed? Chardonnay.
What makes you laugh? I laugh at really lame ‘dad jokes’ … usually, I’m the one telling them and can’t stop laughing hysterically at myself.
If you had to change the colour of your hair, what colour would you change it to? It’s blue right now – done!
Win one of three sets of family tickets to Splash! The Water Circus on Saturday, 16 September at 11am. Simply fill in the form below before Thursday, 14 September.