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It’s Mzansi Magic as Stuart Lightbody wows Adelaide

Stuart Lightbody, SA’s favourite magician, is putting on a celebratory show for his local fans after taking top honours at the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest arts festival

The master illusionist arrived back in Cape Town after winning the overall Best Magic award at the year’s first big international live arts event, and the first thing he did was book a show to celebrate with his local fans (One Night Only! Kalk Bay Theatre on April 16. Tickets).

This year’s edition of the enormously successful Adelaide Fringe surpassed last year’s million-ticket milestone, with more than 1,450 shows presented in the programme, which ran from February 16 to March 17. 

Stuart was selected from 30 magic shows to win two weekly awards before being announced winner of the overall Best Magic category. Adelaide Fringe said the awards “are presented to a select group of artists and shows that have not only enchanted audiences, but have also set new benchmarks for artistic excellence”.

 ‘The Man with the Golden Hands’, the show Stuart performed at the Kalk Bay Theatre last year, earned him first place among magicians at Adelaide, which is second only to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in terms of prestige. 

In ‘The Man with the Golden Hands’, Stuart tells the story of John Mullholland, the magician who was recruited into the CIA in 1953. An enchanting mix of magic and storytelling, this show amazes, astonishes and astounds with apparently impossible demonstrations of sleight of hand and mentalism. The show debuted at the Fringeworld Festival in 2023, where it won a Weekly Theatre and Performance Award.  

Before performing at Adelaide Fringe this year, Stuart won a weekly award for his other show, ‘The Magic Eye with Stuart Lightbody’, at Fringeworld festival. This month’s Best Magic Award adds to a six-month winning streak that includes the SA champs of Magic and three weekly awards at International Fringe Festivals. Previous awards include: Creative Award at Prague Fringe Festival 2014, Best Overall Theatre Award at Fringe World Festival, 2018 and the Spirit of the Fringe Ovation Award at the South African National Arts Festival in 2019.

All eyes will be on Stuart at Edinburgh Fringe in August, his second appearance at the world’s premier live arts festival.

His breakthrough at Adelaide is especially noteworthy since 50% of awards went to South Australian artists, with six of the 50 awards presented to First Nations artists. 

CEO and Director of Adelaide Fringe, Heather Croall said: ” Adelaide Fringe is a beacon of artistic freedom and creativity, and this year’s award winners exemplify the spirit and diversity that our festival stands for. Their remarkable talent and dedication have truly elevated the festival experience, offering audiences unforgettable moments of joy, reflection, and inspiration.” 

Stuart will be performing a celebratory once-off performance of ‘The Man with the Golden Hands’ at Kalk Bay Theatre on April 16. Grab your tickets today before they disappear.

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