Fantasy

We caught the opening night in London, of John Calvert's new road show "Fantasy", at the Finsbury Park Empire on April 7th.

John Calvert is an American film actor, and he is running this two hour show during a lull in the making of a new film in South Africa. He is well known to American film-goers as "The Falcon", since he has starred in a series of films as that character. He literally carries the whole act on his shoulders, and whilst he has broad shoulders, and a big and very pleasing personality, we feel that he would have been helped either by a supporting cast or more assistants.

His stage presence is, of course, exceptionally good, but one finds a sense of detachment in the fact that he seldom speaks unless through the centre stage microphone. The entire production is quite revolutionary in style and much slower than the fast moving magic shows to which we are accustomed, but perhaps this is because the production was originally produced to suit the American audiences to whom John has played for so long.

The opening was colourful and the dance ensembles unusual in the fact that all the girls are about six feet tall! Several items were put over in genial style, followed by a Rhapsody in Smoke, with Ann Cornell, his leading lady in several films. The item Satan's Bouquet would do credit to no magician— and is a replica of the comedy flowers from table gag that viewers will remember Tommy Cooper using a few weeks ago on his new Television Programme. Tommy however does not call himself a magician!

A giant drum illusion which followed was very nicely put over, with the chorus taking the ends of the silk streamer through the burst paper, round the stage and right down both sides of the auditorium. It finished with the sudden appearance of a girl whilst the drum was swinging in mid-air. Then a borrowed handkerchief was placed in a miniature house, only to be danced about in front and finally thrown out. It continued to dance about all over the stage, and obeyed all commands, finally being returned to its owner.

A beautiful effect that I have never seen before consisted of a large Cutout Crescent Moon lighted by electric lamps. Anne Cornell, in a singing routine, sits in the middle of the Crescent which immediately rises high into the air, and from then on moves uncannily all round the darkened stage.. .up.. .down.. .round and forward.. .right out over the heads of the orchestra!

This was followed by a Bar Act, The Buzz-Saw Illusion, Aerial Fishing, Vanish of a girl through the mouth of an outsized cannon and subsequent reproduction from a box let down by pulleys from the roof of the Theatre.

The second half opened with the chorus performing Abdul's Fez in unison, then the Floating Lady Levitation, Torn and Restored Magazine Page, Floating Ball. This last named deserves special mention. His routine was extremely clever and different, and at times the ball bounced up and down quickly over an orbit of about ten feet. A beautiful routine, cunningly exploited. Television Eye consisted of many pieces of wide sticky tape stuck in all directions over his eyes, John Calvert then accurately described articles held up by members of the audience. His ball routine with three spectators has to be.seen to be believed, and is the one he did on Television. He actually has them all doing the eggs from mouth routine at once, and he dodges back and forth from one to the other with his productions. An extremely skilful piece of presentation and a real lesson in how to handle spectators! His finale was the Vanishing Elephant, and he retired to a big hand.

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