Dan Harlan’s Pack Small Play Big series released by L&L Publishing is designed to show performers how to entertain an audience with props that can fit into a standard briefcase. In this volume, Dan discusses how to build an entertaining kids’ show using a few marketed props and gimmicks you can make at home. Here is what is explained…
Let It All Out- This vanishing and reappearing handkerchief routine is designed to teach the kids how to react to the show. It’s a simple warm up that Dan believes gets everyone ready for the magic that is to come. While it is certainly best to have some type of warm up effect, some may feel that this encourages the kids to get a bit too wild. Still, it provides a look into how one performer likes to begin.
Gosh Man- This is a sponge ball routine with a bit of a twist inspired by the classic Slydini Paper Balls Over The Head. I felt the performance was a little rushed and confusing to the children. The “move” was a little too blatant and quickly done. This may have been an attempt to keep the rest of the audience from telling how the trick was done, but the speed sacrificed the comedy that could come from the situation. Dan finishes with the marketed Sponge Ball to Cube. While he does not bring much new to the table, his performance may convince many kids’ show performers to add this underused prop to their act.
Sucker Suckers- The magician introduces a bag and displays four jumbo lollypops one at a time: each one is a different color. The performer decides to keep one for himself and places it into his case. When the bag is opened, the others have vanished. Finally, the magician produces a real jumbo lollypop for the child to keep. Dan explains the construction of the simple gimmick needed for the effect. Unfortunately, the trick itself is a bit weak. Still, some performers may be able to create their own routine using this clever prop.
Balloon-atic- Dan performs a few standard bits of business while making a big balloon sculpture for the birthday child. Most experienced performers will have seen this type of sillyness before. No magic is performed during the routine.
This Century- Dan’s version of the classic 20th Century Silks effect adds nothing much new to the effect, but the method is quite clever. Ungimmicked silks are used throughout the routine and everything may be examined after the routine. Unfortunately, this effect really isn’t strengthened by having the props end examinable, so it is no better than the original gimmicked version.
Party Hat- This effect was a little weak for me. While, producing candy or party favors for the children is a classic idea, this version isn’t all that magical.
Coloring Book- If you are a children’s performer, you probably already perform this classic routine. In fact, you probably perform nearly the exact same routine as every other magician and clown around…including Dan Harlan. There is absolutely nothing new brought to the trick. The advice he gives is common sense. Think of this as more of a dealer demo than a new routine.
Shake It Up- This was definitely the highlight of the DVD. Here’s the dealer ad:”With the help of one of the children, the magician attempts to make a milkshake starting with milk and ice cream, but he doesn’t have some of the ingredients so he substitutes ketchup and mustard for chocolate, then adds salt and pepper for more flavor! Harlan has taken the hassle out of this routine by eliminating all liquids, although you’ll swear he used some!”
The ad is 100% accurate: you will believe he used some sort of liquid. You place a container on top of a child’s head as you procede to fill it with ingredients. You actually SEE the liquids going into the container, yet there are none used whatsoever. While the gaffs you will have to make up may be difficult to come by, they are among the coolest I have ever seen in magic. The climax to the routine is a production of a bunch of candy bars. The only weak point in the routine is the load of the candy into the container. I would recommend purchasing Don Alan’s classic Comedy Egg Can to use with Dan’s otherwise fantastic routine.
Candy Man- For his finale, Dan produces enough candy for everyone in the crowd out of a previously empty bag. Again, this is nothing spectacular, but the kids will be happy they get to eat the treats.
Overall, the DVD left me wanting more. However, some may find the “Shake It Up” routine worth the price of admission. If the routine sounds like something you would like to perform, and you are willing to do some hunting for the materials necessary to create the props, this DVD may be a wise investment. Otherwise, I would look elsewhere.
—Available from http://www.llpub.com/