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This article was published 15/3/2017 (1072 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There’s no smoke and mirrors when it comes to the appeal of Mr. Ken’s magic show.
East Kildonan’s Ken Sawatzky, who performs as Mr. Ken, moved to Canada in 2003 from South America. A natural performer, Sawatzky had been playing guitar and singing in bands since he was a teenager.
"I’ve always had the passion for the stage," Sawatzky said. "I felt the stage was my home."
A former Montessori teacher, Sawatzky parlayed his passion for song into music for children. To date, he has two albums of children’s music available on CD and iTunes, 2011’s Smiles Around the World and the EP Sing - Play - Live, which features the "hit" song I Like Superman, and is a popular performer on festival family stages.
But it wasn’t until 2011 when Sawatzky had a chance encounter with a hospital clown his career as Mr. Ken really kicked into high gear.
"We were at the hospital with our son," he recalled. "A clown came by and did a magic trick. I had never seen a magician before. At the time, it was super amazing to me."
Sawatzky did some research, picked up a couple books and DVDs, and connected with a local magic club. Pretty soon, he was working on developing his repertoire of tricks. It was around that time that a student’s mom asked him if he would perform some songs at a birthday party. With a mix of his songs and his new tricks, the party was a success.
"The results were beyond my expectation," Sawatzky said. "I wasn’t really trying to get into it, it just happened. The parents were happy with what I did, and it just kept growing and growing."
Since then, Sawatzky has been honing his act and bringing it to audiences of all ages.
"The act depends on who I’m performing for," Sawatzky explained.
A school assembly show will differ significantly from a birthday party, while a party for a pre-schooler will have a different focus from one for an older kid. Mr. Ken has also been performing more and more for the corporate crowd, too, and does not shy away from parties for adults who are kids at heart, either.
"I connect with people very well," Sawatzky said. "It’s not about being the best magician, it’s about experiencing the magic together.
"When I see somebody, a child or a grown-up, forgetting about their troubles for the day, having the time of their life, knowing I was able to help create that moment, it’s priceless."
In 2015 and again in 2016, the Winnipeg Parent Choice Awards named Mr. Ken the Best Local Children’s Entertainer. While Sawatzky admitted it was nice to get that recognition, he isn’t one to rest on his laurels. He said that it’s his goal to always be improving at his craft, and growing his audience.
"I’d love to take my current act to different countries and connect with people," he said, noting a two-week tour of Paraguay that he has lined up for July. "I’ve had pleasure of performing my music and magic in five different countries at this point. It’s a very fulfilling way of living."
For those looking to catch Mr. Ken’s act, he will be performing an afternoon show at the Park Theatre (698 Osborne St.) on Thurs., March 30 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.
Sawatzky said the larger venue gives him the opportunity to perform a number of bits that he is often unable to perform at parties and such.
"There will be suspense, wonder, laughter, and audience participation, and making the magic happen," he promised.
Visit www.mrkenshow.com for more information.
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112