Articles about Ben Robinson
MAGIC CASTLE by Arthur Gibbons Jr. June 21 - 27, 2010
Parlour of Prestidigitation
June 21-27, 2010
special to American Variety
By Arthur Gibbons Jr.
The world famous Magic Castle – a half-century of Hollywood hocus pocus – produced a top bill ending June. Two performers, opposites in every way, exemplified the adage of immaculate attraction. Opening in the early slot was Big Apple baffler Ben Robinson. A regular on the late nite opening scene for genius schtarkers Jackie Mason, Jerry Lewis, and musical acts as disparate as Johnny Cash and the new age artists October Project, this turn found Robinson providing entertaining entrée for a world champion of magic, Johnny Ace Palmer.
Ben Robinson, left, and Johnny Ace Palmer, right, outside the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA on June 27, 2010 after completing their week of shows in the Parlor of Prestidigitation.
Longtime stand-up regular Jimmy Bentley provided the big up to Robinson¹s dramatic opener. Light jazz swings the curtain open for the purple-clad wonder worker Robinson. Butterfly yellow silk changes instantly to heavy silver walking sticks and then eye-popping penetrations, productions and vanishes adorn his graceful hands. Champagne disappears without pink elephant chasers amidst remarks about the Marx Brothers grandfather-magician and tales of a one-handed pickpocket! The audience is intimately involved. More silk flows from a gent’s fly and the uproar is loud enough to be heard on Sunset six blocks away. It’s comedy magic at its finest until comico magico Robinson pulls the rug out becoming story teller par excellence. Robinson provides easy listening, boffo trix, fast paced comedy, genuine surprises and genial showmanship. This was his Magic Castle debut.
Johnny Ace Palmer, a true world champion packed the room SRO for all 21 shows during the week. An old hand at Castle conjurations winner of Magician of the Year award for Close Up Magic twice consecutively Palmer raises the roof and doesn’t disappoint. Tall, bearded, witty, well-dressed, and gentle as a Summer breeze, his hands move like lightening as cards thought of travel inside his pocket, cut ropes mend, minds are read and sponges multiply in his mouth and dental floss brings a hilarious reference to Plato.
Palmer’s finale cements his legend status. Aided by three audience beauties, an old trick becomes an unforgettable piece of sorcery. He promises the materialization of “live baby chickens” and he delivers. The audience would not let him leave at the two shows I took in.
Robinson the savvy New Yorker with odd credentials from Everest base camp and Palmer the tall super hero with a quiet voice provided one of the best bills the Magic Castle has ever produced. If only the Magic Castle could maintain this level of class and talent; membership would be mandatory in the City of Angels.