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Notes From the Magic Castle 8/16/05

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Hollywood's Magic Castle

Hollywood's Magic Castle lies in a classic Victorian mansion

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Long Beach Mystics, a Southern California club that produced an amazing array of professional magicians, the Palace shows feature past presidents, each of whom have notable magic careers. The Long Beach Mystics, a club for young magicians, was founded in 1955 in Long Beach, California by Herbert L. "Brownie" Brown. The club met in the backroom of Brownies Hobby and Magic Shop on the last Saturday of each month. In addition to those who performed in the palace, other well known magicians from this club include Mark Kalin, Kevin James, Dirk Arthur and Dana Daniels.

Because of the week’s tribute to the Mystics, the Palace show is a must see. On Tuesday night, Bill Smith, of Bill Smith's Magic Ventures Illusions-the noted magic manufacturer, opened the show with his entertaining duck act. Randy Pryor, one of my favorite performers, delivered an energetic set that combined comedy, juggling, dance and confounding magic. Is there anything that Pryor can’t do? Armando Lucero, another amazing artist, performed his versions of balls from the mouth and a Slydini classic.

Mike Caveney performed a clever and humorous routine involving a clothesline and performed some serious balancing with a cup of coffee. As if this weren’t enough, the hilarious Les Arnold & Dazzle closed the show with their brand of comical illusions. And Les Arnold performed a strong Zombie Ball that had a funny ending. It’s not only amazing that this incredible pool of talent was nurtured in the same club, but that the entertainers each have such different stage personas and acts. No cookie cutter material here. The Palace show is a fitting tribute to the club.

I had never before seen Will Fern and was happy that I caught his act in the Parlour. This New Jersey-based comedy magician delivers. I was impressed with the way he worked audience members into his effects and his mind-reading “assistant” in the later part of his act turned a normally mundane mentalism effect into an uproarious experience. I have never seen a more entertaining rendition of this trick. Mike Wong played late Parlour. Be sure to check out his “Dragon Thread” opener (a mystifying Gypsy Thread-style effect), excellent use of theme and music and his closer, a baffling ring transposition.

Close-up was equally excellent. I enjoyed David Minkin’s amazing coins across with open hands; his time capsule with a marble and packet of sugar and his antics with a borrowed driver’s license. And holding court in late Close-up was Terry Lunceford. While Lunceford is well know for his snake basket, his close-up act, which featured no snakes, offered impressive sleight of hand with coins and cards, energetic and comical banter and outstanding interaction with his audience. I can’t do justice here. Just don’t miss him in late Close-up.

-Wayne N. Kawamoto

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