Richard Leigh is a magician and creator of theatrical magic shows, using his skills as an artist, sculpter and bespoke prop maker to create some highly original work.
His long and dedicated career of 37 years has combined his interest in magic, theatre and art.
Interests as a child were always connected to the theatre. It was a book on stage lighting that gave Richard his first insight into stage illusion techniques.
Richard left school at 16 and worked in a timber merchant in his home town of Stowmarket in Suffolk. During this 2 year period Richard created two themed magic acts. One with a Circus theme and the other with an enchanting fantasy woodland theme. The majority of these early props and illusions are still in working order and are used in performance to this day.
In 1985 Richard turned professional with a magic and illusion act called ‘Richard Leigh and Sheryl.
Richard worked from 1985 to 1999 with the magic and illusion shows, from cruise ships to international floor shows. From end of the pier summer seasons to Pantomime.
The ‘Illusion’ Show had its debut at The Westminster Theatre in Victoria, London in 2001.
‘The Magic Cavern’ – London’s most intimate and atmospheric theatre of magic, opened it’s doors for the first time in September 2002. Celebrated as London’s long running magic show. The show had its 1000th performance on the 4th May 2014 and in 2020 currently standing at 1212 performances before Covid-19 closed the London doors and the theatres ‘ghost light’ was switched on and the pause button pressed.
‘The Magic Cavern’ ran at The Barons Court Theatre in London for 18 years, with the final performance in London on the 5th January 2020.
In 2004 Richard opened a magic and illusion show at The Jermyn Street Theatre in the West End which ran after the main show on Fridays under the title of ‘Late Night Magic’
Late Night Magic ran for 12 years, with the final performance on the 15th July 2016.
In 2005 Richard produced one of his strangest shows and by far one of his personal favourites. The Twilight Ballrooms featuring Malcolm Marvelle Master of Mystery and the lovely Rita!
Written and directed by Anthony Pearson. In 2006, Richard Leigh and Anthony Pearson took the Malcolm Marvelle Master of Mystery and the lovely Rita show up to Edinburgh for the Festival.
Click here for a short film of that hectic week created by Anthony Pearson.
Malcolm Marvelle Master of Mystery played by Richard Leigh. And the lovely Rita played by the incredible Naomi Paxton.
During the 20 year London theatre residency Richard created and presented the following 80 minute shows each year.
‘The Magic Cavern’ – played every Sunday and the Christmas season
‘The Magic Toy Theatre and Orchestra’ – played the February Half Term week
‘The Fun Fair at the Magic Theatre’ – played the Spring bank holidays
‘The Side Shows of Wonder’ – played the summer season
‘The Spooky Magic Theatre’ – played the October Half Term week celebrating ‘Hallowe’en’
‘The Superstitious Magic Show’ played each Friday 13th
Another highlight of the London residency was a magical exhibition created as part of ‘London’s Hat Week in 2018. Hats and headdresses with the theme of Magic created by Jenifer Rowley and associated themed magic created for and presented by Richard. A 30 minute walk around exhibition and magic presented in association with the stories behind the magic of the exquisite themed hats.
The walls of the theatre and in the foyer were full of framed pieces of my magical art which were used within the decor, but also used to pique interest in forthcoming attractions within the schedule of the magic presented each year. Maybe one day I will display these pieces outside of the promotional purpose and as an exhibition of my art. I predominately paint in water colour, acrylic and inks.
Richard took grasp of the incredible opportunity of huge amounts of time that the year of 2020 onwards through lockdown gave most of us in the ‘arts’ sector and hibernated in his workshops and art rooms. An opportunity to create magic and art that time had not allowed. A quick reminder to self to not put the paintbrush in the mug of tea Richard.
During Lockdown, Richard started writing all of his routines and magical creations used during his 20 years at ‘the magic theatre’ down into a book which includes the above mentioned promotional artwork and further hand painted pieces of artwork for each scene, routine, effect and sideshow. To be continued …. It’s a lifetimes work.