Tag: Steve Valentine

The McBrides and Magic and Mystery

Last night, the place to be was The Magic Castle at the corner of Franklin and Orange in Hollywood, California.  We squeaked in (we are on the waiting list for a hip replacement or a good oiling) just before they closed the parking lot.   Phew, we said to no one.

We were dressed in our finest and even polished one of our two shoes (the right – and we always walk with it going first) and wore a tie inherited from our late uncle.  Like all families, we had to fight to recover the tie he promised us.  Our aunt said he never intended us to have it.  Our cousins claimed they were entitled to it.  The funeral director said we couldn’t open the casket without a court order.  But we have it – most of it – and we were wearing it with the pride of a person who knows how to wear a snap on tie.

Steve Valentine is more than a great magician, he is also a world-famous actor and great guy.  When his name is on the bill, there are going to be crowds.  Well, last night, his name was on the bill and there were crowds.  QED.

Mr. Valentine was hosting a special Castle Perk for members on Street Magic in the beautifully appointed Peller Theatre.  Unfortunately, the Peller Theatre seats around 40 guests and there were far more than that looking to learn the ins and outs of performing on boulevards and byways.

We stood solemnly by the door, gazing in with hope and expectation but to no avail.  We couldn’t hear a thing.  We saw mouths moving and props being displayed but without the language track, the visual was insufficient for us.  Dejectedly, we gathered our street performing props and funny hat, and walked away.

After a wonderful meal in the dining room, we were able to see Jeff McBride and Abigail Spinner-McBride in the Palace of Mystery.  What a treat.  Because of our late arrival and dubious hygiene, we were given a choice seat with lots of room near the front.  We have seen Mr. McBride several times and were once again delighted by his creativity and skill.  He is a man of many talents and masks.  He uses both resources to make for a fantastic show.

We have never seen Ms. Spinner-McBride perform and were equally delighted to see her work.  She has a wonderful sense of poise and grace on stage.  Her performance of Max Maven’s Brainwave was beautifully done.

The McBrides will be at The Magic Castle through Sunday as part of the Magic and Mystery School Week.  If you haven’t seen their show or haven’t seen it in a while, make plans to get there.

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Caveney, Lenert, Gaughan, Valentine & Mystina – Amazing Night

Thursday night at The Magic Castle offered an amazing lineup of incredible magic and magic history.  Mike Caveney, Tina LenertJohn Gaughan and Mystina brought about a standing ovation with their show in the Palace of Mystery.  Steve Valentine similarly received a standing ovation in the Close-up Gallery.

Standing ovations are not often seen in either venue but were appropriate in each instance.

The Palace show was a treat and of great historical significance.  Mr. Caveney and Ms. Lenert performed with their usual charming style: Mr. Caveney working the audience as emcee and Ms. Lenert performing her perfect pantomime routine.  We have seen these performers on several occasions over the years and can honestly say this was their best.  Ms. Lenert is a master of her craft and brings so much authenticity to her portrayal of a lonely cleaning woman who yearns for love and attention. Mr. Caveney is the perfect counter for the romanticized magic of Ms. Lenert with his easy rapport with the audience and astounding magic.

A woman seated in front of us commented, “They seem like they would be a good couple.”

But the matchmaker audience member was blown away by John Gaughan’s presentation of Astarte or Maid of the Moon.  We know that it had precisely that effect on her because she nearly screamed to her friend (over the standing ovation), “Oh my God!  That totally blew me away!”

Indeed, she had good reason to “be blown away.”  Mr. Gaughan enlisted the assistance of Inside Magic Favorite Mystina to perform the most baffling levitation or flying effect we have ever witnessed.

After a short historical introduction of the Astarte‘s origins, Mr. Gaughan presented the illusion flawlessly with Mystina.  She serenaded the moon and flew to a perch on its crescent shape. From there, she pirouetted about the very brightly lit stage, turned 360 degrees both vertically and horizontally.  

She glided through a solid steel hoop first while Mr. Gaughan held it, and then, incredibly, while she held it. It was lovely.

It was truly magic.

“How was it done?”  The talkative audience member asked after again attesting that she had been “blown away.”

No one offered a solution.  That made us very happy.

Mr. Valentine is a master of many skills.  He is an actor who plays the part of a magician who is an actor who is really a very funny person with exceptional sleight of hands skills. 

A woman seated next to us in the close-up gallery described him (before the show began) as the “best looking magician ever.”  That is either damming with faint praise or an earnest compliment if one includes Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in the category against which she is comparing Mr. Valentine.

Mr. Valentine’s routine is anything but routine.  He is irreverent and rapid-fire with high energy and higher trick-per-minute ratio than any performer we have witnessed.  (We do not know how trick-per-minute is translated into the metric system). 

His mastery of cards is outdone only by his mastery of the audience.  He is a gutsy performer who uses the Classic Force with the confidence of someone using a one-way forcing deck.

He is funny, charming and completely in control even though at times it seemed impossible that any of what we were seeing was planned. 

We intended to provide a description of every effect he performed in the set but that would have taken several days of writing and a new thesaurus – there was too much and it was all too good. 

Our favorite effect, though, had to be his barehanded production of a fairy.

We were reluctant to write anything about the shows because we intend to return to see both tonight and this weekend.  As it was, the lines for both were lengthy and not everyone made it into the show rooms.  We fear our praise of the acts will only exacerbate (not a dirty word, we checked) the problem.  Fortunately, we have a very low readership and we are rarely considered an authoritative source for show recommendations.