Showing posts with label Michigan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michigan. Show all posts

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Maro Adventure Completed

I finally returned from my trip to Michigan to perform and lecture. The performances were at the W.T. Best Theatre, also known as The Old Art Building in Leland Michigan. The lecture I presented was on the Life and Magic of Walter Truman Best, better known as MARO Prince of Magic.

Why, you might ask did I present a lecture on some obscure magician? Well, it turns out, Maro lived in the town of Leland in the early 1900s. His home still stands there to this day. In fact, his home is for sale for a whopping $4.5. million dollars! The Historical Society and the Leelanau Community Cultural Center were aware of Maro's connection to the area and I was contacted to come and lecture and share some magic.

The shows were great fun. The stage is not very large, nor is the theatre, but given that the building is close to 100 years old, it had a very unique feeling to it. Like stepping back in time to be truthful. I presented mostly modern routines during my two afternoon shows. Interestingly, even though I was 800 miles from home, I met two people from my area who were in attendance at the earlier shows. Small world!
I also have an odd feeling that the place may just be haunted. Why do I say that? Well, my second show had two mishaps. One during a routine that NEVER EVER EVER has given me trouble. Somehow a string from who knows where got twisted into a prop and made it impossible to function. Later in the show something else went south on me. Again, stuff that never ever happens and it happened twice in the same show.  It made me somewhat apprehensive about the evening lecture.

The evening lecture is something I had been working on for months. It began with tons of research into this fellow Maro, who I had only known of because of his posters. I dug up a lot of information from quite a few sources. After compiling all the historical facts, I had to put it together so that a lay audience could understand and appreciate it. Let's face it, magicians who are into magic history would eat this stuff up. But lay people, that's another story.

I decided to include a number of Maro's routines in the lecture. First up was Maro's Slate Trick which I found in an old issue of The Sphinx. I combined it with the Spirit Dial, an effect popular among Victorian Era Magicians. I actually combined the Maro Slates with the Spirit Dial into an effect that was quite entertaining and mysterious.

The big effect I had planned for the lecture did not come to be. I had wanted to present The Flags of All Nations, a staple of Maro's show. However, the Flags I obtained began to disintegrate as I worked with them. Perhaps sometime down the road I can get them remade/restored but it didn't happen this time around. Instead the big feature was my Hand Shadow Act. It lasted just over a minute long, probably much shorter than Maro's actual routine. I think my version gave the 21st Century audience who was watching enough entertainment and got the point across as to the various things that can be done with hand shadows without going too long with it. Maro's ghost did not show up during the lecture at all.  I had the distinct feeling that he was sitting in the back watching and smiling. The audience of non-magicians thouroughly enjoyed the lecture, magic and power point presentation. Many came up to me after and shared their connection to Maro, Maro's home, or some of the magicians who performed in Leland after Maro died in 1908.

I will be doing a more complete write-up of my trip and of Maro for a magic magazine. Once that article is finished, I'll let you know where to check it out. Oh, and I took some video footage that I will edit soon for an upcoming episode of The Magic Detective Youtube Show. Yes, it's coming back!
Historical Display created by Kim Kelderhouse of the Leelanau Historical Society

Friday, February 27, 2015

The American Museum of Magic

I still recall my first visit to the American Museum of Magic. It was many years ago now, and Bob and Elaine Lund were the owners, tour guides and gracious hosts on the day I visited with my family. This visit was the first time I had seen any sort of historical magic props or posters. It was an eye opening experience and really made an impression on me.

Bob Lund was an avid collector and he had everything from posters, books, playbills, letters to Houdini's Milk Can. Bob was not really a fan of Houdini, but he recognized Houdini's drawing power and so the Houdini items stayed near the front of the museum.

Another interesting item that I saw was a poster from the Le Grand David Show. I instantly
recognized it because we had visited Beverly MA for the first time a few months earlier and I had gotten to see the show. This was long before I became friends with the folks at the Le Grand David show. Bob and Cesareo became good friends and eventually Cesareo sent the museum a huge bronze cast sculpture of the show that was created by David Bull's father. There were three of those sculptures, one resides with Ray Goulet, one at the American Museum of Magic, and the third, I think is still waiting for a buyer. The third one was on display at the theatre in Beverly until the show was auctioned off.

Below are several videos of the museum. The first features an interview with Bob Lund. You'll want to forward the video to around 3 minutes 49 seconds, as that is where the magic interview takes place. During the interview you'll get to see Houdini's Milk Can and Bob talking about the Houdini routine.

On the second video, you'll see a shot of one of the large Houdini 'Do Spirits Return' poster. In the last video you'll see some shots of the collection of magic figurines. This collection of figurines inspired me to start collecting magic related figurines. 

I hope you enjoyed a little peak into the American Museum of Magic. It is still in operation today, and this year the Midwest Magic History Weekend will take place in Marshall Michigan, the home town of the museum. So if you'd like to check it out for yourself, you can visit the following website and look into attending the conference.