The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Scott's Thoughts - by Scott Wells » » Abracadabra in Cincinnati Playhouse - A Review (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Scott Wells
View Profile
Special user
Houston, TX
993 Posts

Profile of Scott Wells
The Cincinnati Playhouse was the scene for the annual Abracadabra Play in the Park. No, it was not performed outside but within the air-conditioned confines of a well-appointed theatre just north of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Tim Kole and David Williamson combined talents to present a full evening of magic and mayhem for the assembled patrons of the arts from across the countryside. Each year Abracadabra features a some of the foremost magicians of our craft. For example last year I saw Mac King and the Pendragons at the Playhouse. Initially developed and sponsored by Ken Klosterman, Abracadabra is into its 15th year in this venue and now enjoys more financial sponsorship from the community and is still well supported by theatre patrons and the local citizenry.

This year’s theme was “Alice in Wonderland” though it was not clearly evident other than in their advertising. The Thursday night Preview Party I attended on August 18th was festive with two close-up magicians working in the lobby entertaining the patrons who milled around for two hours prior to show time. Several restaurants provided ample sustenance for theatre goers with sandwiches, pastas, salads and desserts all part of the show ticket package price. Several local magicians appeared to be in attendance providing a little of their own impromptu magic for small crowds that would congregate.

Let me say here that typically when a magician is working (in a restaurant for example) it is improper for a visiting magician to “whip out a deck of cards” and start entertaining. But in this situation, it seemed to me acceptable and altogether appropriate for “other” magicians to perform. I would liken it to the Magic Castle where local magicians often do little impromptu tricks for their assembled friends that invariably leads to a small gathering that encircle them. There were so many people in the lobby with only two professional magicians to entertain them for a short two hours and not nearly enough room for the children to squeeze in, it seemed appropriate to me that in this case the local magicians were there to pull a few things out of their pockets. Children and adults scurried about from one magician to the other as the two-hours swiftly disappeared and we were led to our seat in the main theatre.

The theatre probably holds about 1,200 people and slopes toward the expansive stage. There is no orchestra pit nor for that matter, much room between the actors and the front row. It makes for the perfect venue for those magicians needing audience participants as they can easily access the stage with a short eight inch step to the stage. The stage itself is a semicircle going out into the audience with a radius of about ten yards. When the curtains are open, it appears that it goes back about another ten yards.

Tim Kole opened the show with an appearance from a large, industrial size fan. His assistants rotated the fan from blowing into the audience to blowing toward the ceiling, placed a large cloth over the top and as the wind billowed the cloth upwards, it was whisked away to reveal Tim standing atop the fan. A female assistant was placed in a contraption that enclosed her head. Tim wielded a broad sward as he “sliced” off her head then moved the box from side to side then removed the box and placed it aside. He opened the box to show her head on the other pedestal while her headless body was in full view in the larger box. The box was moved back to the original place, the box opened and the assistant stepped forward with no apparent side effects.

As that illusion was rolled off, another one came on. Laying a female assistant on a board, her midsection was covered with a box with only her head and feed protruding. A circular object was placed atop the box then Tim lifted himself onto the edge of the table then through the circle apparently penetrating the assistant. The apparatus was turned side to side to show that he was truly through her as he stood vertically on the platform while she was horizontal on the flat plane. He walked back and forth from one end of the box to the other proving that her midsection had disappeared or turned into air or something.

Perhaps it’s best to note here that the running theme throughout Tim Kole’s show was to see how many ways an assistant could be apparently injured without actually suffering any harm (i.e. slicing, dicing, squeezing, burning, etc.) Each illusion was just that, an illusion without story, meaning or context as he went from one unrelated effect to another. This is not to say in any way that the performance was poor, just lacking in satisfying presentation…at least for my taste. Granted this was the “preview” night so things could have been running a little “out of kilter,” but it looked as though he was a little nervous or on edge as he seemed to shake a little as he held some props.

The curtains closed as Tim was joined by a volunteer and his pet duck that correctly “cut” the outline from a newspaper of a selected playing card. The duck and volunteer excused, the curtains parted for a sword basket routine where the basket was shaped as a pyramid. As the swords were removed but before the girl jumped out, a fire was lit around the upper perimeter of the hinged lid of the pyramid. The girl jumped out in a different outfit then the pyramid picked up to reveal another female assistant inside.

As the lights went down and the applause subsided, we could hear one lone audience member still applauding and yelling plaudits. The spotlight hit the person and we saw David Williamson walking down toward the stage continuing to applaud and talking about how cool those illusions were. David quickly spun into a raft of jokes and one-liners that endeared the audience to him. He had an adult volunteer assist him with a hilarious torn and restored card effect where the card first exchanged places with another card, then restored into a folded card and finally the folds were removed from the card so it returned to its once pristine condition. Another volunteer assisted him in a very funny ring on rope routine then he once again introduced Tim Kole.

A woman in a black leotard and another in a white leotard were put in separate boxes sitting side by side. The two boxes were pushed together to form one box and a pole pushed down through the assembled box. When the boxes were pulled apart and the girls emerged, they were each wearing black and white leotards. Next a panel of seven children came onstage that allowed Tim to have some comical byplay with a trick using a funnel and water from a child’s forehead. The children were then asked to sit on the stage and watch as he performed with a zombie ball.

As the children returned to their seats, Tim enlisted a male volunteer who climbed into a large die-box looking box. He was shown to have vanished and ultimately replaced by a female volunteer. The male “volunteer” was never seen for the rest of the night though the girl assisted him throughout the balance of the evening. In fact, she was next placed into a vertical box as cubes and circular tubes were pushed through (“Geometric”) showing that she too had vanished or turned into air or something. Of course when the tubes were removed, she emerged unharmed.

Another female assistant entered stage left with a flaming pole which was inserted in a base. Leaning on the top of the pole while the base of it burned dangerously near her ankle, she was lifted parallel to the floor and a hoop passed over her proving there were no wires attached to this “broom stick” pole.

To close the first half of the show, the curtain opened to reveal a gigantic, whirling ten foot jet engine type propeller apparatus Tim’s assistants laid him on a stretcher then stuck his feet through the near center of the whirling propeller with only his head and arms sticking out. His assistants held a large foulard in front of the fan hiding Tim as he slipped completely through the fan. When they dropped the foulard, Tim was blowing a whistle from the back of the theatre as he ran down the steps toward the stage and announced the 20 minute interval.

David Williamson opened the second half with the time honored needle swallowing trick. Not for the faint of heart or weak of mind (kids were warned), David brought laughter and hilarity to an otherwise serious trick. He next performed a selected card in mouth routine after apparently losing the card and much byplay. He then brought up four children from the audience as he introduced Rocky the Raccoon and sent him flying through a “flaming hoop” and a flurry of cards safely into a net being held by two kids.

Those of you who have seen David Williamson perform before know that the best way to describe his act is controlled chaos. It appears that things are going wrong when in reality he has complete control of where he is taking you. Henning Nelms says, “Attention to detail is the essence of showmanship.” Few exponents of our art exemplify this better than David. He has attended to every little detail and knows how to make a string ensemble into a full orchestra. He is a master at improvisational magic based on his years of experience in the “real world” of performing for children and adults. If it hasn’t been said before, let me say it now that he is the Robin Williams of magic. In my opinion, nowhere is he more effective than entertaining children FOR adults. That is, he uses children on stage as props to entertain the adults in the audience. But the volunteers on stage as well as the children in the audience howl with laughter themselves, too.

Tim returned with an assistant who was placed into another box. As Tim pushed the edge of the box, it became smaller and smaller with “her” hand sticking out until the last minute when it was pushed flat against the other end of the box (“Crusher” illusion.) The girl ended up in the audience as she ran to the stage. The box was restored to its original size and a different woman jumped out of the box. (NOTE: I always felt that in this illusion, if she disappeared from the box and reappeared elsewhere, it should just stop there. Revealing another girl in the box is anticlimactic and not that much more mystifying. The audience is left thinking, “oh, so it was that other girl’s hand sticking out until the last minute.” Just because another girl CAN be hidden in the box, why do it if it doesn’t add to the effect?)

A married couple came to the stage and told some personal facts about their courtship. A covered blackboard was lowered from above and rested on an easel that was brought onstage (Don Wayne's “Dream Vision”.) When the covering was removed, the predictions of the couple’s first meeting were show to be correct.

For some reason, Tim did another Shrinker-type illusion this time using only one female assistant. He placed her in a horizontal box then turned a crank, the box shrank and her feet moved closer to her chin. The shrunken lady returned to her full size as Tim reversed cranking on the handle and of course once again, she emerged unharmed and no shorter for the wear.

In one of what Tim called his favorite illusions, a sheet of metal was placed on a bed frame. His female assistant lay below and a sheet was placed over the entire apparatus. The outline of the girl’s face and feet were apparently coming through the sheet of steel though her hand was still sticking out of a hole in the sheet. Finally, when the sheet was whisked away, she was laying on top of the sheet of steel.

For his final illusion of the night, Tim first showed a short video of him and his crew in China visiting the Terracotta Warriors. In the film he talked about the history of these ancient statues. The film ended and the curtain opened to reveal an eight foot replica of one of the Warriors that had been standing in the lobby for inspection earlier in the evening. Behind the statue was a bank of twinkling lights. A curtain was drawn up around the statue completely encircling it. The curtain only covered three-quarters of the statue at any time. As the curtain covered its lower extremities, the head could be seen. As the head and torso were covered, the feet could be seen. Finally the curtain was lowered to show just the head. As the hooped curtain was drawn up, the feet disappeared. Tim walked under the curtain and the curtain dropped to show the statue gone and only Tim standing in front of the twinkling lights.

An altogether delightful evening of fun, food and magic. I can’t wait to see who the Playhouse will bring next year.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
View Profile
Special user
Houston, TX
993 Posts

Profile of Scott Wells
As an update and addendum to my review, I received a nice e-mail from David Jones, President of the I.B.M. Ring 71 in Cincinnati. He said that Denny Metz and Tom Bemmes were the close-up performers I saw Thursday night when I attended. To round it out and to give recognition to other local area magicians who participated in Abracabra, the other close-up performers on the other nights were Sean Owens, Sean Reynolds, Terry Frances, Chuck Meyer, Ron Lawson and Cinde Wolf. The program also listed Jason the Great, Bill Pryor, Frank Johnston, Kurt Yochum and Chuck Sunshine. Cinde organizes the close-up entertainment.

He also advised that Abracadabra is handled by the Playhouse in the Park (not the city) and is the Playhouse's biggest fundraiser each year.

Thanks, David, for your input and for your nice comments on my review.

Finally and for sake of completeness, the program listed Steve Weikal as the Magic Director and John J. De Stefano as the Magic Producer.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Scott's Thoughts - by Scott Wells » » Abracadabra in Cincinnati Playhouse - A Review (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2021 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.23 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL