Ellis and Webster Top Beanie Weenies

Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster in Ellis in WonderlandAssume you grew up in the wild and never knew of civilization; as if you were a modern day Kaspar Hauser.

This strange man/boy wandered into a German town and lived a short, mysterious life. He lacked the social, hygienic and language skills that come from being raised by humans.

And yet he was very bright and inquisitive. He was plagued with a terrible hunchback apparently caused by his prior imprisonment in a small space.

He was either murdered or killed himself in the center of the town one evening and the cause of his death has never been determined.

Now, you as little Kaspar, stumble into civilization and are adopted by a very rich person and treated to only the best in life.

You have the best food, even though your palate lacked the sophistication necessary to discern Filet Mignon with a fine 1989 Mondavi Cabernet Reserve from Beanie Weenies and Grape Kool-Aid.

You would rightfully guess that all food in this brave new world tastes so wonderful and that all homes were stately mansions populated by caring and giving people.

You’re probably thinking, “what the heck is he talking about? So much for modern psychotropic medication!” Or maybe your thinking, “I haven’t even read this far. I gave up in the first paragraph.” Actually, no, I don’t know how you could think that if you stopped reading in the first paragraph.

Now, imagine you see magicians for the first time. Perhaps the occasion is your birthday party or the first night at the theater.

If you saw perform, you would assume all magicians were not only entertaining but capable of incredible tricks. You would have no idea that magicians could be anything less than this duo.

When you finally venture out of the wonderfully protective but cloistered mansion, you encounter Beanie Weenies and hack magicians or hack magic lecturers. While your chewing on your overly-salted hotdog and baked beans, you watch magicians perform uninspiring tricks with apparently no practice in routines with no imagination.

While you are sucking down a juice box of sugar water tinged with the chemical representation of grape flavoring, you could listen to magic lecturers teaching effects with no imagination or commercial value. No commercial value to you, that is.

The hack lecturers would teach effects described scantily in their stapled stack of photocopied pages they call lecture notes and more fully disclosed – with the necessary gimmicks – in the package “usually selling for $35.00 but specially priced for attendees at a significant savings for only $30.00.”

You’re probably thinking, “uh, excuse me. What is this all about? I have to go in a little bit and don’t have time to read all this fluff. I’m not a hunched-over man/boy who stumbles into a German town and gets stabbed in the town square by someone cloaked in black but I do happen to love Beanie Weenies.”

Anyway.

Now, imagine you see magicians for the first time. Perhaps the occasion is your birthday party or the first night at the theater. If you saw Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster perform, you would assume all magicians were not only entertaining but capable of incredible tricks. You would have no idea that magicians could be anything less than this duo.

When you finally venture out of the wonderfully protective but cloistered mansion, you encounter Beanie Weenies and hack magicians or hack magic lecturers. While your chewing on your overly-salted hotdog and baked beans, you watch magicians perform uninspiring tricks with apparently no practice in routines with no imagination.

While you are sucking down a juice box of sugar water tinged with the chemical representation of grape flavoring, you could listen to magic lecturers teaching effects with no imagination or commercial value. No commercial value to you, that is.

The hack lecturers would teach effects described scantily in their stapled stack of photocopied pages they call lecture notes and more fully disclosed – with the necessary gimmicks – in the package “usually selling for $35.00 but specially priced for attendees at a significant savings for only $30.00.”

You’re probably thinking, “uh, excuse me. What the heck are you talking about? I have to go in a little bit and don’t have time to read all this fluff. I’m not a hunched-over man/boy who stumbles into a German town and gets stabbed in the town square by someone cloaked in black but I do happen to love Beanie Weenies.”

Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster are to magic, what Filet Mignon and a fine wine are to food. They are creative, theatrical, imaginative, caring, and funny and their lectures are among the best. How nice it would be to eat steak every day (I can’t afford to because my cholesterol medication costs so much) and how nice would it be to watch Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster perform, teach and improvise every day.

Here is the good news, then. The couple is providing three new DVDs to provide hours of enjoyment and education; to provide more than mere sustenance.

ELLIS IN WONDERLAND – The Teaching DVD: This is one of the duo’s classic lectures. The concept is great and the effects taught are even better. The lecture features several tricks including ‘Razorblade Swallowing’, ‘Deckstress’, ‘Cash to Credit Card’, Credit Card Fax’, ‘Seven Keys to Paradise’ and others. But in the tradition of great DVD etiquette, there is also much more than the lecture notes provided.

There are “special features” including essays on ‘Close Up Magic’, ‘Floorshows’, ‘MagicSports’, and humorous articles like ‘What if magicians were like…’ and ‘A Magical Glossary’. Plus Ellis & Webster Promotional Tape, 6 Card Rap Music Video, Hot Tin Roof Photo Gallery, Glossary of Misunderstood Magic Terms, and Previews of other Ellis & Webster items. I can vouch for much of this material. The magic is creative but, more importantly, commercial.

This DVD is not out yet but is apparently on its way towards us. If you would like a taste of this Filet Mignon, you can read one of Mr. Ellis’ essays to be included on the DVD, “Close Up Magic” by clicking here.

Mr. Ellis performed his Cups and Balls routine with great success at FISM. In fact, he won. I am guessing this success was due to the incredibly creative (both in method and presentation) routine. If you have already seen the routine either in lecture or as a presentation, you know this was pure genius.

Mr. Ellis plays the part of a 1950’s ruffian with a tender heart as he presents the sad story of Run Around Sue through creative use of soda fountain accoutrement and accompanied by Dion’s classic song.

The DVD not only teaches the moves necessary to perform the routine. Unlike the making of laws or sausage, there is much enjoyment in watching the sleights Mr. Ellis used to make a flawless routine. You will also have a chance to see the performance on two television appearances.

The final DVD on its way out towards us is familiar to those who saw the duo’s most recent US tour. 24 Years of Living Next to Ellis is a unique presentation motif. The DVD has: The Kruger Kard Trick, Spiral Bound, Hi Tek Deck, Coins Across, Divide & Conquer, 7D, Big Deal, Bare Coin Vanish, Tricky Trick, Broken & Restored Rubberband, and the incredible Soda Resurrection.

The Soda Resurrection is as close to real magic as anything I have ever seen. To see a crushed can visibly return to its prior, pristine condition and seal itself, can easily convince one that Mr. Ellis has special powers. The Soda Resurrection is not taught on the DVD but the performance alone makes the DVD worth purchasing. You can read about the tragic theft of the Soda Resurrection secret by clicking here.

As a special feature, Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster include their Six Card Rap. This is a great routine. It is not your father’s Six Card Repeat. It uses rap music and costumes to bring a new vitality to an effect I have always enjoyed.

To push the Kaspar Hauser motif a bit further, if you just now took up the study of magic, you might assume DVDs always existed and were always produced with the high quality we expect from Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster.

But we remember the old days of trying to learn from VHS tapes; the constant rewinding too see the move again if it wasn’t obstructed by shadows or the magician’s back. Watching a magic lecture video tape used to teach more than magic – it often taught us to be patient and not expect too much.

DVDs have turned us into instant critics: we can program our players to repeat difficult moves over and in slow motion. We have come to demand not only quality video direction and editing but also substance.

Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster have set the standards for so many aspects of our craft. Their presence in magic requires all magicians to practice, think, create original material, practice, and care about the audience’s perception of our shows.

Sometimes Beanie Weenies are nice but if I had to pick just one entr?e for the rest of my days, I’d pick steak but perhaps replace the California Cabernet with a nice Shiraz.

Check out the Ellis and Webster website by clicking here.

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