Harold Webster
FISM update

A night of magic

Last night was our public show at The Comic's Lounge and, though people seemed to have a good time, it ended up being quite a different show than we originally planned! On Wednesday night Mat called to let us know he was sick and wouldn't be able to be in the show. (And those who know Mat know he'd have to be REALLY sick to miss a show, he is, and we wish him a speedy recovery.)

The trouble was that the whole first half was built around Mat's character, the director Cecil B D'Star. The dynamics of Mat's theatrical director, with my hyper warm-up guy and Sue-Anne's aloof TV presenter was working really well in rehearsal. Once we removed Mat from the equation it affected not only our characters, but the physical aspects of getting changed and shifting props in time.

As a result, the first half wasn't nearly as much fun as it would have been with Mat involved, it still worked, but it looked a little slapdash because it was! For those who are interested, here's a run down of the night.

Oh, first of all we had an amazing guitarist called George Kamikawa entertaining the 65 people who came for dinner and his guitar work is unbelievable!

Once George had finished I came out and set up the premise for the show: we were all here for the taping of a new TV special 'The World's Greatest Magicians in Australia Finally Revealed' and the audience was the studio audience, Sue-Anne was the celebrity host and I was the warm up guy promoted to director because Cecil was sick... along with half the crew, so I grabbed a lady from the audience to be our cue card holder and I revved the crowd up a bit in preparation for the show.

A cell phone went off, and I captured it with a huge magnet and told the owner he could collect it after the show.

As I was talking I explained how my dad had always wanted me to be a professional golfer, but I preferred to watch magic shows instead. I produced a golf club and did a multiplying golf ball routine.

The show started and Sue-Anne Webster was introduced and, after a quick bit with the cue cards we discovered the stars of our show, The Perdentes props and costumes were there, hadn't they shown up yet. Sue-Anne went off to search for them while I called up some stand-ins and did a camera rehearsal of The Perdentes famous smashed watch trick.

Sue-Anne returned with The Perdentes briefcase and, after pulling two bowling balls out of it, she removed a deck of cards. She offered to do a card trick and, after the worst gag of the whole night, I left the stage and she did the Split Deck with two volunteers.

I ran back with some good news, though The Perdentes hadn't arrived, our special guest had, so we were going to film his act for the show. Al Cappuccino, the magical gangster, did a great set of card, cigarette and billiard ball manipulations.

After Al's act I asked him if he wouldn't mind spicing up Sue-Anne's card trick. While he was gone I did the trick What's Next explaining that it was one The Perdentes taught the staff at the first production meeting in order to explain how magic worked.

Sue-Anne returned with a very slinky version of her card trick using Al's magic wand, a gun with a white tip. She had a volunteer locate his own card by shooting at it.

After this effect I announced that The Perdentes had arrived and would perform their great Ninja Sword Cabinet effect. We had a young boy from the audience do the intro while Sue-Anne and I changed and returned to try to pass ourselves off as The Perdentes with our own version of their effect using a cardboard box, a dozen mops, brooms and rakes, and a sock puppet.

After surviving that trick, we decided "Who needs The Perdentes? We'll do the show ourselves!"

Giving the audience a 20 minute break, and allowing us 20 minutes to learn The Perdentes entire repetoire, the second half was much more slick and professional than the first.

It began with the levitation of Sue-Anne on a microphone stand and was followed with a series of effects with bills borrowed from the audience.

Sue-Anne returned next with her Harry Potter theme floating feather and floating table, then it was straight into the levitation of a volunteer from the audience - a new piece which is getting better and better reactions! (Sue-Anne will be featuring it in the MUSE show).

Next was another MUSE piece, Sue-Anne's rope routine with a Blues Brothers theme. Two members of the audience are chosen to perform rope tricks with Sue-Anne, but first they need to learn the right choreography. Add hats and dark glasses and they did a great dance routine to 'Think' as Sue-Anne performed some pretty slick rope magic culminating in all three ropes merging into one.

The ropes had given me an idea and I had the two guys handcuff me and tie me with one hundred feet of rope. Sue-Anne was then strapped into a straitjacket, but then she got the guys to put me into a plastic garbage bag as well. Then it was a race to see who got out first! (It was a very interesting race because, thanks to the poor quality of the brand of garbage bag I chose, the bag ripped and split in every which way!) However, we got out at exactly the same time in the end.

This meant we had to toast the success of the show, and we went into our popular corporate routine of the toast (including Soda Resurrection which really freaked our ultra-cool volunteer out). This was followed by the always hilarious 'Great Whamo' routine.

Finally, the audience was willing to see one more trick (as usual, I'd underestimated the lenth of the show and instead of 10.30pm it was getting close to 11.00pm). I pulled out the last of The Perdente's costumes, a tiny red skirt, which Sue-Anne said she'd hidden. She headed off to put it on while I pulled out the trunk that all the magic was in. From here we went into our Sub Trunk routine where Sue-Anne is "accidentally" locked into the trunk with the key, and I have to somehow get her out. We haven't done this one is ages but we're really glad we put it in (Mat's idea!) because the reaction was sensational. We don't do it that often because it's really scary to perform, it requires so much precision and there's so much that could go wrong it's totally nerve-wracking for me. Essentially, I done a black beanie and sunglasses, get up on top of the trunk, toss the cloth in the air and nothing seems to have happened... except maybe my body shape is a little different... but when the beanie and glasses are removed it's now Sue-Anne wearing my suit and, you guessed it, I emerge from the trunk in her dress.

It's fun doing these public shows - a lot of work though. One of our clients Pip Downing booked us to do this one and he produced the event himself, which was one less headache for us to worry about, but because it was such a long show and we wanted to show a variety of different types of effects, we had so much equipment involved it became an epic. Now if we were doing a season somewhere the show would get slick real fast and run like clockwork, but when you have to gather all the gear together the night before after several rehearsals (and a major last minute rewrite!) then load the car and get to the venue early in the day, bump in, create dressing areas and storage areas, and walk through the whole show figuring out what goes where in the new space. You have to go through the sound and lights with someone who's never met you before (two hours before the guests arrive!) and do all of that for less money that a standard 30 minute corporate show... well, it is worth it!

We got to try out a lot of new ideas, some worked, some didn't. We got to catch up with a lot of old friends. Plus we got to work with Al Cappuccino again (which is always a pleasure!)

We also need to thank Tristan for manning our DVD stand and looking after sales of our new DVD 'Cunning Stunts' as well as for staying back after with Tim You, Michael Sullivan and Enzo Ficco to help us pack up.

If you were there and got to see the show, we'd love to hear your feedback, what worked for you and what didn't. We hope to be able to do another public show somewhere, sometime before the end of the year... we've still got heaps of other things we're dying to try out and hopefully next time Mat will be a part of our 'LeRoy, Talma & Bosco'-like trio.