What a full day it was today! 9.00am sharp for another batch of stage competitors while Kevin James, Gazzo, Banachek, and Jeff McBride lectured, Juan Tamariz did a one-man show and the Cheating and Gambling workshop was presented.
Sue-Anne took copious notes as act after act appeared and the audience, though overly enthusiastic on Monday, had become much more fickle. Acts that were otherwise quite good seemed to have become "not good enough" for the FISM crowd and many dextrous displays of skill were greeted with courtesy applause. The second last day is not a day you want to be in the stage comp... on the other hand it was the last day of the close-up comp and the crowd there was really in the mood for magic. We saw every possible extreme from outstanding performances to disqualifications.
Stevie Starr followed the close up comp and word must have spread as his show was packed out. After his success what will they have at the next FISM? Mr Methane? Puppetry of the Penis?
Our group got to see the Stage Gala Show while others headed off for a serve of the Close Up Gala. We were really hoping the show would be a winner because FISM needs a real boost right now... and that's exactly what we got!
Frank Wilson provided music, energy and fun before the show (and during it too!) and Helge Thun as compere was superb. He opened the show assisted by Flicking Fingers and Friends by giving an hilarious pre-show safety demonstration before kicking it off with Jeff McBride (starting the show with Jeff? A bold move but it worked).
Jeff presented a selection of his favourites including his mask routine, lights and fans, the bowls of water and his astounding card manipulations.
Following Jeff Helge performed the sliding die box. Not only did he perform it, he sang the die box song too! I'd love to tell you about it, but it's one of those acts you really have to see for yourself.
Marc Metral was next and almost stole the show with his ventriloquism. His act was supremely polished with a crazy lion puppet, two dodos, a talking dog, and four volunteers from the audience who became dummies and sang 'Singing In The Rain' with him. I say he almost stole the show because the audience was on the verge of giving him a standing ovation when he asked if they'd like to see one more. He created a rabbit puppet with a napkin which was very sentimental and cute, but changed the mood and resulted in a long and strong round of applause rather than a standing o.
Vik and Fabrini did their now legendary robot act. It was their first time at a FISM since winning first place in General Magic in 1988 (and they've been working non-stop ever since) and it was great to see the act live.
Mark Karvo closed the show with an absolutely classical bird act, very reminiscent of Channing Pollock, refined, dignified, powerful... just like you'd imagine a "real magician" would be. His final effect, producing a huge parrot that flew twice around the auditorium, got a big standing ovation.
After interval Helge performed a sketch with Topas which began as two duelling card magicians, then got very poignant as the two magicians began to teach each other, then became a pretty blatant statement of what magicians really do when they get together... again, you should have been there but it was a superb example of theatre and magic woven together with real thought, intelligence, and intent.
Jerome Murat was next with a beautifully artistic piece where he was a living statue with a floating head... that really doesn't come anywhere close to describing the act. Why didn't you come to FISM?
The Evansons performed their two person telepathy and it truly appeared to be real mindreading. Tessa told people phone numbers from their mobile phones, their middle names, the serial numbers on bills, and even the names of people in other people's photographs.
Anthony Gatto stole the show (the juggler always does!) with his Las Vegas act which included juggling nine clubs. He truly brought the house down and, as Helge described him, he truly is a juggling machine.
Helge, assisted by Topas, presented his homage to an illusion performed by The Napoleon's at FISM 1991 (I remember it too!). Topas managed to magical vanish from one cardboard box and reappear in another. However, Helge has taken the gag further and proceeded to do a backstage version of it which ended with the surprise appearance of Anthony Gatto in one of the boxes.
The final act was Peter Marvey with his unique illusions. The last time I saw Peter performing illusions was FISM 1997 and he was sensational. Now he seems to have become more 'Vegas' with flashy dancing girls and special effects. Personally, I preferred his old style. He did a boxless 'Interlude' and followed it up by emerging out of his own body... not as amazing as it sounds. Next he did his flying illusion which results in him visibly shrinking then growing again in full view. Again, I preferred the way he used to do it, this version seemed way too much of a production. He also did a weird igloo levitation that was hard to see because of way too much fog, and he did a flaming spiker of death which concluded with the production of three girls.
He was the right act to end the show because of the scale of his props, but he was also the act that received the weakest audience response.
Regardless, it was a sensational show. (If only we had another one like it tomorrow night!)