Hello loyal readers!
I'm back...but boy am I hurting!! Several school shows this week which is great, but most of the schools had zero ramps so I spent most of this week thus far hauling my stuff up and down stairs. A number of years ago, I made the conscious decision to NOT have a 'Pack Flat, Play Big" style of show for schools. It was mostly because the effects I was 'drawn' to the most were effects that were slightly larger. i know a few friends who DO pack flat, play big for school shows and while I LOVE performing, today's a day where I have to question my sanity!!
Just another quick reminder - my Murder By Magic: The ULTIMATE Corporate Magic Show is currently available on Hocus Pocus but ONLY til the end of this year then it will be GONE FOREVER and I will never offer it again. This is your LAST chance to get your hands on the most original magic show available for the corporate market.
OK, on to this week's review while my back holds out...(sitting is torture for me right now!!)
Dan Harlan's The Manipulation Show DVD from the L&L Pack Flat, Play Big series. It's available for $34.95 from Hocus Pocus.
As with my previous review of Dan's Bizarre Show DVD, I will list each routine and rate that routine, and then offer my overall thoughts on the whole DVD.
DANCING CANE: The show starts with a simple dancing cane routine. Dan's handling is fine and the routine is solid and short - most amateurs' dancing cane routines are far too long, like many levitation type effects, shorter is better. The real twist here, though, is after the dancing routine, the cane changes colors...and then the cane transforms into a couple of colored silks. I feel this is a marvelous way to transition out of the Dancing Cane. Dan teaches you how to make a simple gimmick to transform any Fantasio Vanishing Cane into a Dancing Cane. The color changes and all else is terrific, too. 10 out of 10.
VANISHING CANDLES: In this routine, three candles vanish in various ways. The demo video online shows this routine in its entirety, so you can preview it. Other than some somewhat obvious times during the routine when I felt it was clear Dan was ditching gimmicks, I thought this routine was superb. A few moments of thought will give buyers alternate ways of ditching the gimmicks, so don't let that deter you from a great routine. This routine is what prompted me to buy the DVD. 10 out of 10.
BILLIARD BALLS: Again, Dan turns to the classics. While Jeff McBride gave buyers of his manipulation DVDs a lot more routines and fancy moves to choose from, Dan's routine is solid and a great way to get your feet wet to see if you like performing Billiard Balls. Not groundbreaking, but good, solid stuff. 9 out of 10.
TIGHTROPE: This is a rope routine that like most of the DVD is played silently by Dan. I REALLY like this routine as there were some visual, silent gags that really made me laugh out loud. You'll learn the classic 'sliding knot' technique for a rope routine and some other quality stuff. The fact that Dan gets two volunteers up to hold the rope as he pantomines a tight rope act is really inspired as the volunteers fill the stage and again, some of the gags I thought were just tremendous. 10 out of 10.
SILKEN DREAM: This is a rather short routine - it's the production of several silks. It's a classic, once again, and well-presented and well-taught by Dan. Not mind blowing but like everything on this DVD, it's rock-solid and looks great. I've been presenting a version of this that I learned on a McBride DVD for years and it does not knock audience's socks off, but it's a good piece...plus it sets Dan up for the last routine, which is nice. 8 out of 10.
OUCH: The only routine on this DVD where Dan speaks, this is a thimble routine with bandaids instead, on the fingers, The bandaids jump from finger to finger, vanishing, multiplying, etc. It's a solid routine with the exception of one move that is so obviously transparent that even the usually giddy L&L audience just sits there. The concept of using bandaids is novel and with the exception of that one dumb move, a really cool routine. 9 out of 10.
LINKING RING ROUTINE: Unlike the annoying routine with rings that Dan offered on his All-Purpose show (which was a routine designed for "comedy" that showed a volunteer unable to complete the tasks assigned during the routine - a plot I always despise) this routine is a silent piece that shows several pretty links and unlinks. Again, McBride's DVDs may give you more options, but for someone who just wants to learn a solid ring routine without a lot of extras. this is good stuff. 10 out of 10.
ZOMBIE: As you might surmise, this is a nice Zombie routine. This routine has a good flow to it and offers a lot of good visual sight gags and classic moves. What more can I say? The Zombie is a classic for a reason. I myself have told many amateur magicians looking to routine shows that a good Zombie routine is a suitable ending for a stage show. 10 out of 10.
BLENDO: This blew me away! I'd seen a noted childrens' entertain David Ginn do something like this and it really floored me, so when I saw this on the DVD, I was really excited to finally learn it. The secret is very simple and looks so fair and impossible. There are no boxes or tubes...just bundle of clearly individual silks that are shook out into a beautiful blendo. Stunning!! 10 out of 10.
MY THOUGHTS: As you can tell from my individual scores, this DVD really impressed me. There are literally no 'dog' routines and I feel it's the best of Dan's "Pack Flat, play big" series. This DVD could have just as well been titled "Dan Harlan Does The Classics," because every routine is either a straight classic or is a classic re-tooled. A wonderful value. I give this DVD a 9.5 out of 10. Not every routine was perfect in my view, but there is so much outstanding value that I have to give this DVD a great score.