Monthly archives for October, 2012

Updates on Several Effects and REVIEW: Hathaway Card Rise by Martin Lewis

Howdy!

Before I get into this week’s review, I want to ‘flashback’ to a few effects I’ve reviewed previously and let everyone know how my opinions of the these effects have held up (or not) as I continue to use them in my professional work…

Peter Loughran’s Electronic Flashbox: When I initially reviewed this item, I had only performed it twice but the reactions were incredible. This week I’ve been performing it all week, two schools a day, two shows per school, so this thing has really got an intense workout at my schools this week. After all of these performances, I am even more convinced this is one of the best things I’ve purchased in a long time!

Triangle of Terror by Keith Fields: Like the flashbox above, this beauty has really got a workout this week and the reactions are astonishing – screams, and then spontaneous applause by kids and adults. Great concept for a routine!

Freefall by Andrew Mayne: I gave this a favorable review when I wrote it up but at that time I had not performed it yet. As longtime readers of my blog know, I am not impressed with most of the things I’ve seen from Mayne. However, after performing Freefall 15 times this week for audiences of around 300 kids at a time, I can say that Freefall, in my opinion, is one of the best things Mayne has put out. This series of schools had already seen my other opening effects in previous shows (Bowl-A-Rama and my Parasol Act) so I needed a new opener for these schools. Freefall is amazing and can definitely move into my “A” material.

On to this week’s review – it’s Martin Lewis’ Hathaway Card Rise. It’s available for $195 from Hocus Pocus.

Here’s the ad copy:

Hathaway’s remarkable contribution to the rising cards trick has become a classic of its genre. This astonishing effect is not only deceptive and practical but highly visible too, making it most effective for stage or parlor presentation.

Three cards rise up from an examined jumbo deck which is inside a clear houlette suspended on ribbons held by you and a spectator – under seemingly impossible conditions – yet totally under your control. The self-contained apparatus is both sturdy and attractive and built to Martin Lewis’ exacting standards. This is the quality you have come to expect from Martin’s Magikraft Studios.

Included is an instructional DVD by Martin Lewis, showing a live performance for an audience of 700. Martin explains in his clear and informative manner the working details and variations which “sell” the effect to the audience. And he should know, the trick having been in his act for over 30 years.

WHAT YOU GET: You get the card holder itself (with gimmicks), plus a jumbo deck of playing cards and an instructional DVD.

QUALITY OF EQUIPMENT: I’ve been using mine off and on for around 5 years and everything has held up great. My stuff looks brand new.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Martin Lewis really is one of magic’s great creators and teachers. While the Card Rise concept is not original with Lewis, he’s really modernized it for today’s performers. He teaches many subtle aspects of the effect including routining, pacing, handling and more. He also covers the hows and whys of altering the revelations as by the time the third card rises, the audience knows what to expect and are no longer amazed. Some of Lewis’ suggestions in that regard are truly inspired. Truly a joy. Also, the DVD includes a live performance of Martin doing the routine on a cruise ship in front of several hundred spectators – always a convincer to guys like me!

ANGLES: This routine is terrific and if you alter the final card (three cards rise), then you could do this surrounded. If you do the third card rise as Martin does, you cannot have anyone directly behind you. The point is, you have options.

AGES: I have performed this in both family shows where the audience ranges 2 – 90 in age and as I currently do it now, I primarily perform it for grades 3 – 5. It slays audiences each time.

MY THOUGHTS: The reason I’m reviewing this (it’s hardly a new release) is for two reasons: one, I’ve been performing it all week for a specific themed show so it’s fresh on my mind and two, I really feel that many magicians out there are always chasing after the latest new thing. So often we forget all of the great magic that’s been out for a while.

Besides the fact that the work during performance is drop dead easy, I really appreciate the fact that this effect includes multiple revelations – in other words, because three cards rise, there are multiple points of astonishment.

This is highly visual magic at its very best,. We should all thank our lucky stars that folks like Martin Lewis have decided to share their work with us. An unbelievable value and well worth the investment.

10 out of 10.

MURDER Reminder and REVIEW: Dan Harlan’s The Manipulation Show DVD

Hello loyal readers!

I’m back…but boy am I hurting!! Several school shows this week which is great, but most of the schools had zero ramps so I spent most of this week thus far hauling my stuff up and down stairs. A number of years ago, I made the conscious decision to NOT have a ‘Pack Flat, Play Big” style of show for schools. It was mostly because the effects I was ‘drawn’ to the most were effects that were slightly larger. i know a few friends who DO pack flat, play big for school shows and while I LOVE performing, today’s a day where I have to question my sanity!!

Just another quick reminder – my Murder By Magic: The ULTIMATE Corporate Magic Show is currently available on Hocus Pocus but ONLY til the end of this year then it will be GONE FOREVER and I will never offer it again. This is your LAST chance to get your hands on the most original magic show available for the corporate market.

OK, on to this week’s review while my back holds out…(sitting is torture for me right now!!)

Dan Harlan’s The Manipulation Show DVD from the L&L Pack Flat, Play Big series. It’s available for $34.95 from Hocus Pocus.

As with my previous review of Dan’s Bizarre Show DVD, I will list each routine and rate that routine, and then offer my overall thoughts on the whole DVD.

DANCING CANE: The show starts with a simple dancing cane routine. Dan’s handling is fine and the routine is solid and short – most amateurs’ dancing cane routines are far too long, like many levitation type effects, shorter is better. The real twist here, though, is after the dancing routine, the cane changes colors…and then the cane transforms into a couple of colored silks. I feel this is a marvelous way to transition out of the Dancing Cane. Dan teaches you how to make a simple gimmick to transform any Fantasio Vanishing Cane into a Dancing Cane. The color changes and all else is terrific, too. 10 out of 10.

VANISHING CANDLES: In this routine, three candles vanish in various ways. The demo video online shows this routine in its entirety, so you can preview it. Other than some somewhat obvious times during the routine when I felt it was clear Dan was ditching gimmicks, I thought this routine was superb. A few moments of thought will give buyers alternate ways of ditching the gimmicks, so don’t let that deter you from a great routine. This routine is what prompted me to buy the DVD. 10 out of 10.

BILLIARD BALLS: Again, Dan turns to the classics. While Jeff McBride gave buyers of his manipulation DVDs a lot more routines and fancy moves to choose from, Dan’s routine is solid and a great way to get your feet wet to see if you like performing Billiard Balls. Not groundbreaking, but good, solid stuff. 9 out of 10.

TIGHTROPE: This is a rope routine that like most of the DVD is played silently by Dan. I REALLY like this routine as there were some visual, silent gags that really made me laugh out loud. You’ll learn the classic ‘sliding knot’ technique for a rope routine and some other quality stuff. The fact that Dan gets two volunteers up to hold the rope as he pantomines a tight rope act is really inspired as the volunteers fill the stage and again, some of the gags I thought were just tremendous. 10 out of 10.

SILKEN DREAM: This is a rather short routine – it’s the production of several silks. It’s a classic, once again, and well-presented and well-taught by Dan. Not mind blowing but like everything on this DVD, it’s rock-solid and looks great. I’ve been presenting a version of this that I learned on a McBride DVD for years and it does not knock audience’s socks off, but it’s a good piece…plus it sets Dan up for the last routine, which is nice. 8 out of 10.

OUCH: The only routine on this DVD where Dan speaks, this is a thimble routine with bandaids instead, on the fingers, The bandaids jump from finger to finger, vanishing, multiplying, etc. It’s a solid routine with the exception of one move that is so obviously transparent that even the usually giddy L&L audience just sits there. The concept of using bandaids is novel and with the exception of that one dumb move, a really cool routine. 9 out of 10.

LINKING RING ROUTINE: Unlike the annoying routine with rings that Dan offered on his All-Purpose show (which was a routine designed for “comedy” that showed a volunteer unable to complete the tasks assigned during the routine – a plot I always despise) this routine is a silent piece that shows several pretty links and unlinks. Again, McBride’s DVDs may give you more options, but for someone who just wants to learn a solid ring routine without a lot of extras. this is good stuff. 10 out of 10.

ZOMBIE: As you might surmise, this is a nice Zombie routine. This routine has a good flow to it and offers a lot of good visual sight gags and classic moves. What more can I say? The Zombie is a classic for a reason. I myself have told many amateur magicians looking to routine shows that a good Zombie routine is a suitable ending for a stage show. 10 out of 10.

BLENDO: This blew me away! I’d seen a noted childrens’ entertain David Ginn do something like this and it really floored me, so when I saw this on the DVD, I was really excited to finally learn it. The secret is very simple and looks so fair and impossible. There are no boxes or tubes…just bundle of clearly individual silks that are shook out into a beautiful blendo. Stunning!! 10 out of 10.

MY THOUGHTS: As you can tell from my individual scores, this DVD really impressed me. There are literally no ‘dog’ routines and I feel it’s the best of Dan’s “Pack Flat, play big” series. This DVD could have just as well been titled “Dan Harlan Does The Classics,” because every routine is either a straight classic or is a classic re-tooled. A wonderful value. I give this DVD a 9.5 out of 10. Not every routine was perfect in my view, but there is so much outstanding value that I have to give this DVD a great score.

Murder is going….going….and REVIEW: Peter Loughran’s Electronic Flash Box

Hi all,

Sorry for the delay in getting a blog posting up. This time of year is crazy busy for me. Check out my schedule thus far just for October…

October 1 – Pocopson, PA – 9:15am & 10:15am

October 2 – Budd Lake, NJ – 10:00am & 2:00pm

October 3 – Wanamassa, NJ – 9:15am & 10:45am

October 4 – New Egypt, NJ – 9:00am

October 4 – Newfane, NY – 7:00pm

October 9 – Norfolk, VA – 1:00pm

October 10 – Willingboro, NJ – 9:15am

October 11 – Upper Saint Clair, PA – 9:00am & 1:00pm

October 12 – Dubois, PA – 1:00pm & 2:00pm

October 15 – Williamsville, NY – 8:30am & 9:30am

October 15 – Buffalo, NY – 7:00pm

October 16 – Milburn, NJ – ALL DAY

October 17 – Short Hills, NJ – ALLDAY

October 18 – Short Hills, NJ – ALL DAY

October 19 – Cranberry, NJ – 1:15pm & 2:15pm

October 22 – Tabernacle, NJ – 9:00am & 10:00am

October 23 – Freeport, NY – ALL DAY

October 24 – Rochester, NY – ALL DAY

October 25  – Freeport, NY – ALL DAY

October 26 – Freeport, NY – 1:30pm & 2:30pm

October 27 – Rush, NY – 8:00pm

October 29 – Cape May Courthouse, NJ – 10:00am & 2:00pm

October 30 – Penn Yan, NY – 1:15pm & 2:15pm

Pretty nuts!!!

Before I get to this week’s review, just a reminder: as of December 31st Murder By Magic will NOT be available ANYWHERE. I buckled to the pressure and requests from performers and agreed to make the product available again but only until the end of the year. After December 31st it will not be sold again EVER by me or any other authorized source so if you’ve been thinking about it, this time period from now til the end of the year will be your LAST chance…EVER.

OK, now on to this week’s review: It’s Peter Loughran’s Electronic Flash Box! It’s available for $599 from Hocus Pocus.

EFFECT: Show a handsome, modern box to be completely empty. Suddenly, without any apparent effort on your part, there is a flash of fire and a LIVE animal appears in a flash! No cloth, nothing tricky, just an instantaneous appearance!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The Flash Box itself, written instructions and 2 AA batteries. Supply your own table stand, flash products and live animals.

QUALITY: I Love this!! Peter has made this look ultra modern and sleek with the metal trim and the three chains in the front of the box. Having the unit trimmed out in metal not only gives it a modern look but it also protects the prop from bumps and scratches.

DIFFICULTY: I hate saying how easy a trick is because a proclaimation of “easy” is almost a free pass not to practice for some magicians but honestly, you’ll be able to perform this right after reading the instructions. This really takes the pressure off and allows you to PERFORM.

MY THOUGHTS: I’ve actually owned this for a couple of months now but held off on reviewing it until after I actually put it in front of a live group of spectators. I bought this trick for a specific place in a specific themed show (one of my school assemblies).

I knew it would play well because I have a ton of Peter’s other stuff. That being said, I wanted to write this review from the standpoint of actually having USED it…I almost always give Peter’s stuff a 10 out of 10 so I know some cynical folks out there in “Cyberspace” would believe I was just handing out 10′s to Peter without much thought.

Today the trick made it’s premier and it brought the house down. I closed with it and was scheduled to do two shows. After the first show, the client said to me, “Oh my GOD that was amazing with the rat! You HAVE to come back! This year!”

All of this before I even finished the job because I still had a second show to do!

Granted, today was only two performances, but I feel confident saying that in my experience, after having bought 5 or 6 of Peter’s other effects (that I continue to use to this day) that THIS is the BEST thing I have thus far bought from him.

MY SCORE: 10 out of 10 – of course! I also have Creature Shock on order and look forward to working with that soon.:)

NEXT WEEK: I review Dan Harlan’s Manipulation DVD from the Pack Flat series from L&L. After that, other reviews include John Kennedy’s Black Box, a killer mentalism effect from Nathan Kranzo and others. Stay tuned!!