Peter Stobie, our program chairman, presented the October workshop. It was titled “Magic With Character.” Peter is a naturist and is part of the Kalamazoo Nature Center. He presents workshops at the center and also to schools educating about the happenings of nature and all of its creatures. He enhances the learning by performing magic. Plus he has added character to his performances/workshops. He has had one acting class in college, has taken part in plays while in college, and was the mascot for Northern Michigan University while as a student. We have seen a few of his characters from previous meetings so we were eager about this workshop.
Peter opened with a rope and knot routine in which he first presented a dull routine and then an enlightened one. Reasons why one should put character in their magic act are: people like characters, character do what you might not, it adds the unexpected element, it adds a unique perspective and possibly a theme for your show, because everyone has a character, and it’s fun.
Some avenues of approach are: first person characterization, third person characterization, adopting a part-time persona, using the voices in your head, body language, costume embellishments, and “scenes from a hat” (an exercise of one of our members placing one of the provided hats on their head and becoming a character with their first impression. Peter touched on each of the above points. Resources are: movies, theatre, improv, comedians — improvisations — SNL, cartoons, Mouth Stands (book) by Newman, Be A Clown (book) by Pipkin. Thank you Peter.
MagicBob Zoerman was the MC for tonight’s program: Celebrate Houdini! — “Houdini themed” magic.
MagicBob opened the show with an optical illusion, the well known two piece brick grid in which he puts the two pieces together and it is a solid brick wall, but then magically a hole appears when the two pieces are flipped and put together again. Now we know how Houdini escaped through brick walls. Next, he performed a rope tie escape ala Dick Stoner.
P. J. Weber presented an interesting silk routine with a picture of Houdini on it. This silk when into a “brick wall” silk and vanished only to reappear from it.
Dennis Favreau shared a few Houdini jokes and challenged himself with a thumb cuff escape. Thanks to Wayne Ramsdell who dressed as Santa, Peter Stobie dressed as Bess, and a “bursting thumb” gag all used as comedy misdirection, Dennis mastered the escape.
Peter Stobie amused us by having a coin penetrate through what he called “Houdini” folded paper. Next, he mysteriously had a mini elephant figure vanish from within a mini box.
Dr. Jack Vander Wal performed an ABC Stung effect called Witch, Ghost, and Bat from FAB Magic.
Bill Rasmussen was known tonight as The Great Rasmusseni! He has been studying about Houdini for the past few years and challenged our intellect at first with some math story trivia such as: three men pay each ten dollars for a thirty dollar hotel room rate, the owner then gives a five dollar discount and has the bell boy give money back in which the bell boy keeps two dollars and giving a dollar back to each of the three men, so each has paid only nine dollars, nine times three is twenty-seven, so where is the three dollars to make it thirty go?
Bill explained he used that mental concept to attempt the escape we were about to witness. A solid metal box weighing the poundage that at least four husky men to be able to even lift was attractively decorated and painted displaying “Rasmusseni Escapes The Status Quo!” I think he used this escape routine when selling real estate at those type of meetings. His left ankle was locked to a ball and chain. One key of ten only opened this padlock. Those keys were placed each in an envelope and spread among the members out of his view. He was then shackled at his wrists. He was placed in this box, the box was then locked, and a curtain was drawn across the front part of the room. Music was played and we waited in anticipation. We could slightly hear his struggling. We wished the best for The Great Rasmusseni. At last, when MagicBob thought we should check on him, he withdrew the curtain and The Great Rasmusseni was sitting on top of the box shackled free at his wrists but now had to determine who had the padlock to the ball and chain. He masterfully called out to Kathy Herdegen and her key released the ball and chain. Excellent!
Tonight, for sure we did a “Houdini!” Thanks to our performers and all who came.