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Seventeen world class illusions, 16 actors and a partridge in a pear tree.

Seventeen world class illusions, 16 actors and a partridge in a pear tree.

This year The Mac Theatre is putting on a Christmas spectacle that will blow the average panto out of the water - no fairy godmother, no ugly sisters just a vanishing boy and a floating woman.

The Family Hoffmann's Christmas Mystery Palace will help us all believe in the magic of the festive season. The Vaudeville-style two hour extravaganza is an all singing, all dancing, all spell-binding performance set to astound Belfast audiences.

The whole production thrusts us back to 1895. It follows a little boy, Harold, who escapes the workhouse and joins the Hoffman Family and their travelling magic show. Harold is blessed with the unbelievable skill of being able to vanish at will.

Director Paul Bosco McEbeaney said it is tricks like this that bring the show to life.

'We're so used to seeing these kinds of things in movies and we just assume it's CGI," he said.

" This will be live in front of everyones eyes, people will disappear and reappear, be sawn in half and levitate. The best bit is they can enjoy the beautiful Christmas story and get completely absorbed in the magic of it all. Everyone in the theatre should feel a long forgotten sense of wonder."

He said the show offers audiences a glimpse into the bygone Vaudeville era.

'I can't reveal any of the secrets but I can tell you that every single item in the performance is true the theme of 1895, a time when magic and Vaudeville were at their prime.

"What you will witness is exactly what an audience could have seen well over a hundred years ago and you will be entranced."

Baffle

For each of the 17 tricks there are different contraptions required to help baffle and bemuse us. The saw in half box isn't in this years Argos catalogue so the team had to look a little further afield.

"World class illusion doesn't really happen in this country, or in most of Europe, in fact one of our tricks in the show has never been seen in this country.

"Because of this most of our equipment was shipped in from Vegas, some of the stuff was specially made just for this show!'

Paul and his theatre company Cahoots brought The Mac's first ever Christmas show in 2012 and this one has been on the brew almost as long,

"Shortly after our last show, Conor Mitchell - the musical director - and I got together and started working on this.

"It's taken us two years to get it stage ready. We are confident The Family Hoffmann's Christmas Mystery Palace will be the stand-out family show in Belfast this Christmas.

"It's a little bit of charm to enjoy during the festive season, with the importance of family at the heart of our message behind all the wonderful feats, curiosity, sights and sounds conjured up by our fantastic cast."

Paul, Conor, The Vanishing Boy and The Floating Lady are determined to bring out the inner child in all of us.

'We will be helping everyone even the parents see the world of Vaudeville through kids glasses.

Clicking

"The magic, the story, the dancing and singing all layer together to create this sense of awe. That feeling has been removed because normally we can find out anything at the click of a mouse. No mouse clicking here at The Family Hoffman."

The Family Hoffmann's Christmas Mystery Palace is a real excuse for everyone to travel back in time to the Victorian Era. Climb into this festive time machine and buckle your fur trimmed seatbelt you're in for magical ride!

Tickets for The Family Hoffmann's Christmas Mystery Palace, priced just £10 for children and £12-£22 for adults, are on sale now from themaclive.com. Family tickets are also available.

Irish Independent