Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Magi-Whirl 2008 – One of the BEST

Ring 50, under the guidance of Mike Taggert and Bob Patterson, produced another hit convention and stage show for Magi-Whirl 2008. There was a 33 percent increase in registrations for the convention over the previous year and a 28 percent jump in show ticket sales with 567 tickets sold for the Saturday night gala performance. During the convention, attendees had a chance to meet some of the stage stars up close and personal. ICE McDonald, who was accompanied by his assistant Robbie Waddell, Aldo & Rachel Colombini and Eric Jones, gave standup lectures.

Among the dignitaries who attended the convention were Maria Ibanez, president of the Society of American Magicians, and Al Cohen, the longtime Washington magic dealer who will be honored at the Magic Castle in Hollywood in April for his contributions to magic.
Friday night arrivals were able to enjoy a Dealers Show and to make some early purchases. They were treated to a lecture by Eric Jones, which turned out to be a surprise hit of this convention or any magic convention. His Four Kings Revelation in performance appeared impossible to perform although his finger-flicking routine seemed almost obtainable when explained. His coin magic drew raves of “outstanding” from even the most experienced at the lecture. His Three Fly effect took the magic to even another level. He also did a whole new twist on the Karate Coin.
After Friday's finger-flinging session, Saturday morning began with a rousing motivational lecture from top corporate magician Kenrick "Ice" McDonald. Ice shared his real-world principles for both the "show" and the "business" of magic, including a special section on ethics. He also shared an amazing routine he uses to audition for corporate bookers. At the end, the audience was clearly ready to go another two hours, but we had to break so the magi could lunch at the many fine restaurants withing walking distance of Bishop Ireton High School, the convention site.
After lunch, the attendees were wondering what could possibly follow the sleight of hand and great ideas we'd already seen. The answer was in two parts: Aldo & Rachel Columbini. They gave us a double dose of practical, effective stand-up magic, suitable for most venues. The crowd made their enthusiasm evident and then swarmed the product table at the end.

Saturday afternoon featured revolving close-up shows with Brian Morton, Richard Kaufman and Bob Little. Brian Morton used a deck of cards and a film noir detective story to reveal a “criminal” represented by a signed queen. Kaufman proved he is a close-up performer in his own right with some slick card work including one in which he turned a deck into a “gun” to shoot out a chosen card. Bob Little used a hatchet to chop a large Smiley face cookie into crumbs to reveal a chosen card. He ended his act with a bit that probably will not be repeated again.

One of the afternoon highlights was a question-and-answer session with Richard Kaufman, publisher of Genii The Conjuror’s Magazine, conducted by Ring 50 President Mike Taggert. Kaufman talked about having the chance while growing up in New York City to brush elbows with some of magic’s greats in informal settings. Kaufman, who revived Genii 10 years ago and turned it into a first-rate magic publication, conceded he is a workaholic but loves every minute of his creative time in front of a computer.

The only thing that could follow these lectures was some great magic performances, and we had plenty in store, both on stage and up close. Prior to the Saturday night Gala Show, Ring 50 members performed feats of magic in the lobby to entertain the arriving public. They were: Capt Token (Louis Hofhiemer), Dwight Redman, Larsen Eisenberg, Eric Redman, Lorenzo the Great (Larry Lipman), Matgik Matt (Matt Hiller), Sam Brothers, and The Legendary Rick Beatty.

The Gala Show drew a nearly sellout, enthusiastic crowd, which was opened to the public. The opening act of the show, presented in the auditorium of Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Va., featured the comedy and magic of Ring 50 Magician of the Year Noland Montgomery. Two husky men tied him up with rope as he stood on a stool. After one of the assistants held a drape over his tightly bound hands, Noland suddenly reached out from behind the cover with his magically free right hand to answer a cell phone call. “I’m all tied up at the moment,” he told the caller on the other end of the line.

The delightful comedy magic of Bob Sheets came next with a presentation of his very own Hang Them High illusion in which he pulled a long length of rope through his body. He also tendered a wonderful routine involving eight delightful kids from the audience. He combined a Nest of Wands with a Cups and Balls effect that ended with the production of a lemon, orange and potato.

Aldo and Rachel Colombini impersonated a European count and countess to produce a very funny mind-reading act. Standing in the audience, Aldo told a blindfolded Rachel, “I’m holding an object. You may be able to see it.” She immediately responded, “Eyeglasses,” to the knowing audience’s laughter. Aldo ended with a smooth and very pretty linking rings routine.

Kenrick “ICE” McDonald was the featured performer of the show as he orchestrated his award-winning act with a dramatic series of dove productions. In a change of pace, he invited a man and woman on the stage for a torn and restored card routine. In another phase, he invited two young girls on stage for a funny change bag parody. He ended by delivering a beautiful and moving presentation involving an older woman from the audience, in which he turned paper roses into real ones to give to her. He ended by producing a swirling snowstorm on stage and dancing with her.

Washington DC’s Rich Bloch was the evening’s ringmaster as the emcee of the night. He provided his own delightful and sophisticated magic mixed with wry humor. One of his funniest bits was when he brought out a floral bouquet on one end of the stage. In a quick moment of misdirection, he pointed out a lady assistant carrying on a tray of metal containers from the other end of the stage, which suddenly clattered to the floor. When the audience looked back, the flowers had vanished.

If you did not attend, you missed a good one!

– By Jim Flanigan. Ken Norris, Eric Henning, & Bob Patterson contributed to this article.

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