By Andy Hirst
A magician from Huddersfield who has had phenomenal international success along with several sell-out summer seasons in Blackpool is bringing his spectacular show to his hometown.
Michael Jordan works under the stage name High Jinx and has been on TV several times and even taught legendary American magicians Penn and Teller how to spin plates.
The magician, illusionist and circus skills expert will be at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield next February half-term and the last time he was in Huddersfield he got rave reviews.
The 30-year-old natural born entertainer from Scapegoat Hill is well known in Europe as he has toured with the famous Le Festival International de Magie in France for several years, a travelling magic show which features Europe’s exceptional magicians with the focus on laughs and magic.
Michael was on tour with the festival on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion when molten lava began to spew from a volcano there in 2016 but luckily no-one was hurt.
This French connection led to Michael being invited to take part in a huge magic festival at a theme park in China called Happy Valley in 2019 which marked 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He also appeared in a national TV magic competition in China.
Michael got his first big break when he appeared on a TV show hosted by world-famous magicians Penn and Teller. He had to do an illusion that saw him sawing a girl into five and they had to work out how it was done.
“I don’t like to do things by halves which is why she ended up in five bits,” joked Michael. “It got me known though and gave me the break I needed to really get started with my career.”
Later on when Penn and Teller wanted to add plate-spinning to their repertoire they asked Michael to teach them so he filmed special video tutorials for the duo.
A short time after the Penn and Teller TV appearance Michael received two offers at the same time … doing magic on a Disney cruise or a summer season at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach.
He chose Blackpool and the venue was the landmark Horseshoe Bar at the front of the Pleasure Beach where Michael had seen the famous Mystique magic show when he was a child.
He said: “To go back there to do my own show was something I just couldn’t turn down. The Mystique show meant the Horseshoe Bar had become an iconic venue in magic circles.”
Michael did three summer seasons there and then switched to the Viva cabaret venue next to Blackpool Tower where he did a further six summers.
In 2020 Merlin Entertainments which owns Blackpool Tower asked him to stage his show in the tower itself alongside Blackpool Tower Circus for the days and evenings when the circus wasn’t performing. Michael has just done a full summer season in 2021 and at one point most of the circus acts came down with Covid so he was asked to do two shows a day for two weeks to fill in.
Michael said: “Around 5,000 tickets had been sold for the circus and so they contacted everyone and gave them the option to see the magic show instead or get a full refund. Almost everyone came to the magic show which was brilliant, although it was absolutely exhausting.”
The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns were a tough time for Michael but he proved his resilience is certainly no illusion.
When Covid struck in March 2020 he was touring around the UK with the Sooty Show Live and had a full diary of events lined up for the rest of the year. That all ended abruptly and Michael was ineligible to be furloughed so, along with a couple of clowns and an aerial artist (yes, seriously), ended up working in a refrigerated warehouse for a supermarket chain.
“We were picking out groceries for customers,” said Michael. “To be honest, it was awful.”
But Michael’s a man of many talents and has an HGV licence as he needs to drive a lorry to transport all his huge props.
His father, Mark, is operations director at road drainage company Enviroflow Management Ltd in Birstall so Michael and fellow magician Darren McDonald ended up driving a lorry to clear out gullies on the M62 and in Kirklees, Calderdale and Manchester at night.
Magic show bookings are now back to normal and Michael will be appearing in panto Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Hinckley, Leicestershire, from January 12 to February 5 next year where he’ll have a starring role doing illusions, plate-spinning and juggling.
The circus skills came about because Michael is always looking to expand his repertoire and he traces it back to a chance encounter in Huddersfield.
He was booked to do close-up magic tricks at a pre-Christmas shopping evening in Lindley and found it a struggle in the dark. He spotted a juggler with illuminated clubs who was dead easy to see in the crowd and it got him thinking he could use those kind of eye-catching skills in his show.
Michael is now a self-taught expert at juggling, unicycling and stilt-walking.
TV shows and dramas often contact High Jinx (https://www.highjinx.co.uk/) to loan equipment or as a consultant and Hollyoaks asked if he could do fire-breathing.
Michael reckoned he could although he’d actually never done it before. He contacted a fire-eating friend who showed him how to do it and within a few days Michael was on the set of Hollyoaks breathing fire during a street party scene. He’s also juggled knives dressed as a clown in comedy drama Shameless and unicycled down a path on Emmerdale
Britain’s Got Talent hired a couple of his routines to help a contestant on the show and Michael has also helped out Strictly Come Dancing with illusion props for spectacular dance routines.
To book tickets for the show at the LBT go to https://thelbt.org/what-s-on/circus/high-jinx-magic-illusion-circus-show/
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.