Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Project 365 (227/365): Bearwin Meily

.:227/365: Bearwin Meily:.

I wanted to put this first because I mostly wanted to get this out of the way, and given how things are, Mr. Meilly may very well be the only magician from the local magicians I intend to feature whom I might be completely unable to interview.

Now, let me preface this whole thing by saying something honest about the man: I am not a big fan of Bearwin Meilly as a magician. There are many things I could say to explain my stance at this point, but I won’t speak ill of the man, because I personally resolved that outside of Criss Angel, there will be no outright bashing of contemporaries in this Project 365.

Of course, if you really wanted to hear some stories, feel free to ask Mike Unson. I’m sure he has a mouthful to say. As a contemporary, I’d rather focus on what Bearwin has brought to the table and to the overall perception of magic in the Philippines, rather than outright slag the guy.

Anyways, Bearwin Meily has been generally known as a comedian, starting in show business in the late 90’s, and earning a name for himself because of his nice mix of intellectual and slapstick comedy. He wasn’t quite your Dolphy-type comedian, but he was no Tim Tayag, either. This healthy mix allowed him to have crossover appeal for both the masa and the so-called elite audience.

Then, like lightning, he struck, when he started being heavily featured in the TV show “Naks” on GMA-7 around 2004. At this point, he unveiled a side of his that we haven’t seen before, and all throughout, the Bearwin Meilly everyone knew never took a backseat to this new facet of his. He was still his old comedic self, and he managed to win over a lot of people with his abilities as a magician, culminating in two specials, “Stealing Minds” and “Thou Shall Not Blink,” both aired on QTV11, and garnering acclaim, attention, and haters, all in one fell swoop.

It was during “Thou Shall Not Blink” where Bearwin feature The Story Circle, which partially explained the increase of awareness about the fledgling group, although that alliance was short-lived for reasons outside of my privilege to disclose. Needless to say, while Bearwin has earned quite a following because of his magic, he has also earned quite a few detractors at the same time.

In terms of technical skill and liveliness, there’s nothing you can say about Bearwin here. He is solid and knows his way around a deck of cards. He talks circles around people, unless you ask him to speak in English, which should be fine, since he’s a Filipino, not an American. He can do excellent magic at the drop of a hat, but there is one honest observation I have of the man that prevents me from fully appreciating him...

You see, because of his comedian background, he inevitably kills his own credibility whenever he performs onstage. His finale in “Thou Shall Not Blink” was supposedly an act of teleportation, and yet, it was the most eye-rolling act in the entire show, pretty much ruining everything he built up throughout the special. There is also the supposed rivalry between him and Erik Mana, and even the inevitable comparison of how “dry” Mr. Mana performs as opposed to the obviously lively banter that Bearwin would bring to the table.

There is no question that Bearwin does great magic when given the opportunity. The burning question is: does his reputation as a comedian get in the way of people appreciating his talents? Unfortunately, based on the number of people I’ve casually polled over the years, the answer is “yes.” And that’s a crying shame, really, seeing how Bearwin is certainly not wanting of skill, variety of effects, or even presentation.

Only time could tell if Mr. Meily could break out of his own shadow.

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