Thursday, December 20, 2007

got there at the right time, originally uploaded by venicewow.

OUCH! Lets hope they spelled his name right

Extraordinary Deceptions: A Magical Holiday Extravaganza
(Powerhouse Theater; 75 seats; $25 top)


A Powerhouse Theater presentation of a magic show in one act, conceived and performed by Michael Gutenplan. Directed by Ryan Dixon.

Michael Gutenplan's amiable, low-key display of prestidigitation could hardly be dubbed an "Extravaganza," and the only nod to the holidays is a medley of pre-recorded Christmas tunes that precede the perf. What does live up to the show's title is Gutenplan's deceptive sleight-of-hand mastery as he performs up-close-and-personal with various members of the audience. Under the loose guidance of helmer Ryan Dixon, Gutenplan projects a casual, almost bumbling persona as he works his way through a number of traditional magic-trick formats.

Maneuvering around a small stage strewn with myriad decks of cards and other paraphernalia, Gutenplan appears to lack confidence, as if his routines are not completely polished. They are indeed. Though youthful in appearance, he is an old-fashioned closeup magician. Gutenplan exhibits an impressive dexterity with cards and money, complimented by impressive feats of mind reading and extrasensory prediction.

The low-energy concept of "Extraordinary Deceptions," however, does not quite have the legs for a proscenium stage. It is much more suited to a magician's parlor, where the audience is closer to the action.

Every routine requires an assist from an audience member. Gutenplan works through a number of variations on the standard "guess the correct playing card" and marked bill routines. At one point, the correct bill is found within a sliced lemon. His most impressive card turn occurs when he asks an audience member to tear off the end of a card and keep it. After a few "red herring" ploys, the rest of the card is recovered from within a sealed envelope stored in a small box recovered from under another audience member's seat.

His mind-reading ploys include guessing the correct word from a randomly chosen paragraph from a randomly chosen book page, selected by audience volunteers.

The least successful routines involved unsatisfactory machinations with a paint gun and a saw. Following much bravado in explaining how he was going to catch a paint ball pellet in his teeth from a fired gun, Gutenplan's clumsily telegraphed resolution to the routine undercut its dramatic effect.

Lighting, Max Pierson; stage manager, Justin Peterson. Opened and reviewed Dec. 3, 2007. Runs until Dec. 30. Running time: 55 MIN.

Chris Korn • House Party Performance

Went to a gig with my pal Chris Korn. He was entertaining at a nice Sherman Oaks home not far from where I live. The event, a 44th Wedding Anniversary Party. My purpose of being there was to video tape the gig.

We both agree that these types of gigs are wonderful opportunities to have some fun. Smaller audiences and a close-up show give the magical entertainer a good look into the hearts and minds of every person in the audience.

Chris gave an hour and twenty minute performance with a brief intermission to snack and refill drinks.

In the 20+ years I’ve know Chris, I had never seen him work for “real people”. I’ve seen some of his television performances, but this was my first time seeing him live. He did a great show and entertained the group thoroughly. The video turned out nicely and I edited it down to an hour of solid magic.

The best word I can use to describe how I felt was. . . proud. I’ve watched Chris grow up and mature, as a person, a magician and a performer.

How lucky I am to have such talented friends.

Chris is now back in St. Louis celebrating the holidays with his family.

Not much to say

Polly off work indefinitely. I went to the wrap party and had a good time enjoying sushi and the gag reel. They’ll go back to work, to shoot the back nine (episodes), 5 weeks after the WGA Strike ends. Whenever that might be.

I don’t mind having her around more. As you might have guessed, I love her a lot.

As for me, December continues to be a tougher month than it should. Is the strike, the rain, the economy? Hell, I don’t know. What I do know, is I’m out there, doing the best job I can.

Bottom line is: I am a lucky and blessed individual. My job is to make other people happy. Life is full of magic and unexpected wonder. I count my blessings daily.

More rain today 50/50 odds of working tonight.