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Topic: Tarbell's "Mystery of the Dancing Girls"
Message: Posted by: dbearden (Aug 6, 2006 06:55PM)
I am quite interested in building Tarbell's "Mystery of the Dancing Girls" (vol. 8, page 348). A little background.....I am a high school band director by trade, and have performed magic for over 20 years. I am interested in using this illusion to produce 8 to 12 of my dance line girls during a half time show next year (I plan ahead!). I believe this illusion would fit what I am looking for well, but my question: Has anyone out there ever built and used this illusion before? If so, how effective was it? Were there any problems/difficulties you encountered? I would like to get some feedback before I commit to building the box. Thanks!!
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Aug 10, 2006 08:12PM)
I remember Jim Gerrish building this box back in the 1970's, when I was his assistant. He had hired six dancers specifically to use in this illusion, and then to dance between scenes in his touring illusion show. It was a huge, heavy prop that was hot and stuffy, and it didn't travel well. It was like hauling around a wardrobe (in face it doubled as our backstage wardrobe for the time we had it). When Jim came up with his Utility Cabinet paired with the Garden Gate Illusion (see his PVC Pipe Book #1 on my site) we had no more need for the big closet on wheels, as we called it. I think Jim still has it in his cellar, using it as a wardrobe for old costumes in storage.

It was based on my traveling experiences (read: nightmares) with this box that I later developed my Crazy Cabana (The Wizards' Journal #5 on my site) which I used to produce six doddering old witches and wizards in 1890's swim suits, as they ran in and out of the cabana changing costumes... well, you can read about it there.

Either Jim's Utility Cabinet (paired with the Garden Gate) or my Crazy Cabana is easier to make, use and work with than the big closet on wheels in Tarbell.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 10, 2006 09:55PM)
My first thought was about getting this thing onto the field fully loaded. Build it onto the back of a truck, like a parade float?
Message: Posted by: dbearden (Aug 11, 2006 08:42PM)
Thanks for the feedback guys. I have some platforms that I use for field props that have wheels underneath, making them very easy to move. We often use a 4 wheeler to move them around, so the part of getting it on and off the field would not be a problem. I have thought about using curtains (a la Palanquin) instead of the doors, which would decrease the overall weight. I have a large diesel equipment truck that we use to haul everything in; getting it from place to place would not a problem either. The biggest problem I see at this time would be that I would not want to use it every show; we usually have 5 home games in a season; everyone would know what to expect after they saw it the first time. Of course, I guess we could produce someone different each time (have some sousaphones produced!) It would all definitely have to be made to break down. Hmmmm...wheels are still turning in my mind.....I think there is a way for it to work. BTW Michael, how did the convention go last weekend? I was in the middle of band camp, and unable to attend, though I really wanted to. I am not too far from you guys; just up the road in Oneonta.
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Aug 11, 2006 09:55PM)
One last suggestion, then I'll leave it alone because it seems like you have already made up your mind to build this thing: Check out the Parachute Game Illusion in The Wizards' Journal #5. Imagine several small or medium sized parachutes of various colors laid out flat on the field. The band organizes around each one, then they squat down, grab a section of parachute and stand up again (those who can hold their instruments with one hand, obviously). The parachute is ballooned up into the air and when it comes down, it is seen to be covering someone in the center. The center of the parachute rips open (Velcro) and a cheerleader/dancer emerges from each parachute simultaneously. No boxes, no platforms, no weight.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 11, 2006 10:51PM)
Well, hello there, neighbor! Convention went fine. Sorry you could not be there.

When you get this project well underway, I'd love to come up and see it. I'm closer than you might think. I am in an unincorporated area between Pinson, Clay, and Centerpoint. I've worked the elementary school in Oneonta a couple years running now, and beyond to Susan Moore, Blountsville, Guntersville, etc.

Let me know. :)

Message: Posted by: dbearden (Aug 13, 2006 04:11PM)
Thanks again guys.....I like the idea of the parachutes, too.....I'll check that out. Threre are all sorts of possibilities out there; I'm going to work on collecting ideas to go alone with a theme and see what we can do! (BTW, another possibility would be to use Osborne's Smoke Cabinet for a production of my drum major on her podium). Michael, I didn't know who the magician was that came up and performed for the elementary, but I'm glad I know now! Maybe I can catch you the next time you come up; you are right, you are just right down the road! I'll keep you posted on my progress.