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Kent Estrada The Illusionist and his lovely assistants.

It was a hectic week for me since the last time I posted “Two Announcements” on this blog.

I spent a good part of last week tying up the loose ends of the Illusionist Show through its last rehearsal session. Then I was off to a marathon dress rehearsal on Thursday, followed by technical fine tuning and run-through on Friday. We stopped rehearsing only just about an hour before the gates opened.


The audience is all ears and eyes on Shoot Ogawa.

On Wednesday last week, I attended the Shoot Ogawa lecture, which lasted late into the night.

Yes, it was a hectic week, but I’m glad to have gone to those events, as member of the production staff and cast of The Illusionist, and as eager student of Shoot Ogawa’s lecture and master class.

Kudos to Chubster Flores and the Chinaman George Mamonluk for bringing in to the Philippines world-class lecturers. Through their “gathering” project, George and Chubster are constantly injecting the local magic community with new, breakthrough concepts and cutting-edge magic that keep magicians in the Philippines abreast with the latest in international magic developments.

Local magicians should feel lucky to have a patron of outstanding magic in the person of George Mamonluk.

Shoot Ogawa’s lecture sold out, a testament to the fact that Filipino magicians are responding positively to the idea of opening Philippine magic to the advances brought to the local shores by foreign artists. By the way, the lecture sprang the attendees a sweet surprise: Shoot brought with him his teacher, Master Charlie, who shared his wisdom and some skillful moves with the workshop participants.

PhotobucketThe Illusionist show, on the other hand, turned out to be a big success, bigger than I expected. Save for a few technical miscues that only magicians would catch, the show went smoothly, and the audience responded warmly.

According to the show’s concept that Kent and I agreed upon when we planned the show, it should run fast-and-furious for around one hour and thirty minutes to two hours.

When I checked the time after the curtain call, the watch said the show run for two hours and five minutes.  I was ecstatic. I have directed over six full evening magic shows in the past recent years, and all the shows ran overtime—-except for this one.

I said the program was fast-and-furious because, save for the talking routines of Alex Lagula and me, the manipulation magic of the guest performers ran only for five minutes each. Also, each act of the four acts done by Kent averaged only 12 minutes. This is rare in Philippine magic, where most magicians are more comfortable performing 10-minute routines than five. Or a four-hour show than two.

I have been selling for years the idea of shorter acts for an all-star cast show, but I guess the idea is light years ahead of Philippine magic. In the past, I have always been overruled. This time, though, Kent bought the idea of brisk and crisp routines, and the result was that nobody in the audience moved from their seats until the end of the show, lest they would miss something.

Let me extend my sincerest thanks to Kent’s lovely assistants, who worked hard during all our rehearsals; to the guest performers, Juztin Haber, Ody Sto. Domingo, Alex Lagula, Ritchie Javier, The Fire Dancers, Renee Mucha, and Ted Bravo, who gave magnificent performances worthy of the elegance of Teatrino; to the super efficient stage manager Eric Ma and assistant stage manager Jdhal Leonin and their crew back stage; and, of course, to Kent who is a dream to direct as an artist.

He is a dream to direct because he accepted all my suggestions without questions, even though some of the things I asked bordered on the impractical and maybe capricious.  Often I’d say, “Kent, place this prop here, left upstage.  No, on second thought, put it there on the other side of the stage…I want a large cloth to cover the girl…No, I want it smaller…Geez, we better make it bigger…” Something like that…

I think I’m a fickle director. Sometimes, I don’t really know what I want. I’m hamstrung by an inability to conceive in my mind a finished show. Mine always keeps evolving over time, every rehearsal. The wallpaper background, for example, was done only a few hours before the show began, courtesy of computer whizz kid Juztin Haber.

Still, I didn’t hear a complaint from Kent. He followed everything I told him to do. He provided all the stuff I required of him—costumes, props, music, lights. When something is not available, he hunted it down. For example, when I told him to find me Gothic-themed wallpapers to use as background, he burned the Internet to find those.

PhotobucketKent is a hard-working artists. It helped that we were artistically in sync.  But it is the hard work, the single-minded purpose to succeed that made him successful.

Because Kent was a dream to direct, I knew psychically the show would end a resounding success.

I’m not a psychic for nothing.

Stay magical,