Tag: Tina Lenert

Chocked Full of Magical Goodness – This Week at the Castle

The Magic CastleWhat a week ahead at the World Famous Magic Castle.

The line-up of performers is usually very strong but the next week will feature some amazing talent in all rooms.

Long-time readers of Inside Magic are no doubt aware of our deep reverence for mentalist Bob Cassidy. If Mr. Cassidy wrote it or said it, we consumed it. We have two copies of his outstanding DVD Mental Miracles.

Why two?

It is an old habit from our days working with vinyl records as a disc jockey back in the Midwest. We used to buy two of the great records – one to keep in pristine condition and the other to play. We learned later that DVDs do not wear out quite as quickly as old-fashioned long-playing records or VHS tapes. But, just in case, we are ready.

Plus it is a phenomenal DVD with great mentalism and expert teaching. We used two of the effects – with our own twist – to win some contests. By “with our own twist” we mean we did not steal directly from Mr. Cassidy’s performance.

For instance, we were not as smooth or polished in our presentation and we left out the parts that required any dexterity or thinking. We did, however, don glasses and combed our hair like him. We consider our routines more of an homage rather than a deliberate word-for-word theft of his hard work but only because we like to rationalize to avoid shame spirals and excessive but well-founded self-doubt.

Mr. Cassidy will be in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and so will we. We will be seated, staring with the creepy kind of facial expression that one sees in the lovelorn or pathological, hoping against hope that he chooses us as a volunteer. If he does, we’ll report it here.

Following Mr. Cassidy as the late performer in the Parlor is Rafael Benatar.

We attended Mr. Benatar’s lecture on Sunday and were really impressed. He has a great presence and a well-considered approach to performing magic based on his study under Ascano of Spain. His Cups and Balls was a joy to watch. We learned his own cups had been stolen from his dressing room the night before. We were shocked to hear the news. Call us naïve but we couldn’t imagine a magician stealing props from a colleague. Perhaps it was a non-magician? We thought that was the case until we heard that the thief left the electronics and took only the cups.

Mr. Benatar performed in the Close-Up Gallery last week and will be performing his parlor act in the Parlor – which makes perfect sense and likely did not need to be written.

But wait, there is more.

The Magic Castle’s Librarian Bill Goodwin will be appearing in the Close-Up Gallery and this will be our first opportunity to see him in action. His reputation precedes him and he comes fresh off his win as Close-Up Performer of the Year. We cannot wait to see him perform.

And yet there is even more.

In the Palace of Mystery, Rob Zabrecky, Ardan James and Tina Lenert will be performing on the big stage.

Seriously. At what point does the government need to step in and stop the madness? How many great acts can be booked in one week? Has the Magic Castle no respect for those of us with day jobs who need to get up in the morning?

We have started a course of six espressos every four hours to keep alert so that we can enjoy every minute.

We love performing in the Hat and Hare or Gallery downstairs on the weekends (or whenever we can find one or more people willing to take a card, any card) and sometimes we even feel like we did an okay job in the amateur, impromptu showcase. The contrast this week between the accomplished magicians upstairs and our trembling pawing at cards and spectators downstairs may be too great for us to bear. This might be a great week to just watch the masters at work and enjoy.

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

Inside Magic Image of Herrmann's Astarte or Maid of the Moon IllusionThursday 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.