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"Ellis in Wonderland" DVD
I was lucky enough to see Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster give their phenomenal and completely fun lecture "Ellis in Wonderland". I had a blast, picked up a few new tricks, and was eagerly awaiting the lecture's release on DVD.
It's been a while, but the wait has been worth it. "Ellis in Wonderland" contains some great, commercial, and ultimately entertaining routines in a fun compilation with some hilarious extras added just for kicks. To say this is a keeper is an understatement.
This is one of those times I really don't know where to start. So let's start with the material, which is going to take a while (the DVD is packed with over three hours of pure stuff, so a synopsis is going to be anything but short).
Taken as a whole, the material is quite simply excellent. Ellis and Webster have been at this a while and it shows: the material covers so much ground that there should be pitfalls along the way, but there are none. Zero. Zilch. All the material is commercial and entertaining. If there is any drawback to this collection, it's the reliance on set-ups and gimmicks needing resets which will make some wince. But even having said that, there are pieces here are so gorgeous that squeezing them into an existing act is a pleasure.
Now, of course you'll be picking your own favorites off the disk, but here are a few worth mentioning.
Bill to Anything. This is exactly what the name implies and is incredibly slick. Essentially, a borrowed bill is vanished after a piece is torn off for later verification, and the bill reappears anywhere your little heart and overactive imagination can dream up. This is one of those "worth the price of the disc" pieces that makes this disc a keeper.
Seven Keys to Paradise. Ellis and Webster take on the old "Seven Keys to Baldpate" theme with an interesting use of an old gimmick. Worth more than the trick itself - which is very good - are Ellis' thoughts about using this for corporate gigs. Wanna make more money at those shows? This is one way of adding value to what you do and up the price accordingly.
Shakespeare's Monte. This is the script Ellis put together for the three-card monte (specifically, the Vienna Jumbo Monte) but it will work with virtually any monte routine, mechanical or not. This was one of the first things I began using from his lecture - it's too entertaining not to.
Jazz Cards. Magicians hate this one, which is why I fell in love with it. The presentation sounds silly to us, but to an audience it's an incredible card location that floors them and has them giggling at the same time.
There is a great deal more here, including a razor blade routine (yes, ye olde swallowing and threading bit) with a great touch added to it; a routine where the photo on a credit card vanishes to reappear on the spectator's chosen card while changing to show the picture now is one of you holding the card; a great personalized card location (another money-maker for corporate gigs); a routine using Spirit Slates to locate a selected card in an eerie way (yes, Ellis and Webster went bizarre on one - good on them!); a change of a bill to a credit card; and a great deal more.
Will you do everything on this disc? Magic doesn't work that way. You'll find your own favorites here and there. Can you do everything? Yes, because one of the best parts about the material is that it is all very simple to pull off. Ellis and Webster don't rely on complicated sleights or rigid set-ups to get things done; they keep everything light mechanically so that, theatrically, you can succeed. It's a welcome line of thought to see.
But wait - there's more. We just covered the highlights, well, at least what is traditionally considered to be the highlights. Now comes the really fun stuff.
Along with all the material, there are also a ton of tips on using props and performing in certain venues. In this category of material, we get some of what we expect - like a mini-lecture on Fantasio candles and thumb tips - but also some unexpected and very welcome bits on strolling, corporate shows, black art, and more.
And if that wasn't enough, some of the most entertaining minutes on the DVD will be spent with Ellis explaining and showing the results of MagicSports (believe me, the bit about magic dealers is a scream, but nothing beats what happens to an innocent little dice-stacking routine). Add to the mix the performance of "Six Card Rap" and you're really having fun.
If it sounds like I'm high on this disc, it's only because I am. There is some great stuff here and both Ellis and Webster are capable and talented teachers. The production values of the disc are very high, even when, by all rights, they shouldn't be (like the un-staged "MagicSports" segments).
The final analysis?
There's wonderful stuff on this disc that makes this a solid keeper.
in Wonderland" DVD by Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne
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