Theater

By Sidney B. Whipple

Dante Comes to Town with His Bag of Tricks.

It is so many years since the mighty men of magic, the Herr manns, Thurston, Houdini, Keller, used to tour the country with their magnificent illusions that an entirely new crop of theatergoers should be ripe for mystification by the man who calls himself Dante, and who has opened up his bag of tricks this week at the Morosco Theater.

I know nothing about Mr, Dante's personal history except that he hlntfcd last night that he had been a youthful admirer and perhaps a pupil of Keller. Keller gave him, he said, the original boxes with which he does the disappearing ring trick—the one where rings taken from ladies of the audience and battered to pieces by the magician's hammer are finally found in the innermost of a series of boxes, intact and tied with roses.

If Dante is the heir to this trick, he is also the heir and successor to nearly all of the better illusionists who have practiced their arts since the days of Cagliostro. Nearly all of his most puzzling tricks have been seen, perhaps in cruder form, on the magic stages of bygone days. But seldom have they*

been performed better, with more grace or with more geniality.

Of course the Dante show is full of hokum. By the same token it is corny and perhaps beneath the notice of the sophisticates, but what business have sophisticates at a magic show anyway? Magic is for those whose child-like c& pacity for astonishment and curiosity has not been destroyed by the solemn and unhappy realism of the world today.

Dante's illusions are. for the most part, concerned with the disappearance of young women from a box and their reappearance elsewhere. His most spectacular is the transfer of one such beautiful maid from a cage on thé stage to a box suspended from the ceiling, but the one which I simply do not believe happened at all is the trick in which the same girl is "broadcast" from one station to another in full view of the audience. That, certainly, is no parlor magic.

Dante varies his program by the customary feats of sieight of hand. His legerdemain is adept but rather lacking in novelty, and I imagine hé uses it mainly as a stopgap to fill the intervals where the stage is being prepared for his heavier illusions. Among these tricks are that of the rope that is cut in pieces and reassembled, and the solid metal hoops that become linked together. These can be bought in almost any magic store, although I never knew but one amateur who could work them after he bought them.

But there is another still has me guessing. Dante straps together two pieces of transparent glass with rubber tape- fires a revolver, and presently there appears be tween the two sheets the playing card that some obliging member of the audience has called for There, gentlemen, is a trick!

There are two reasons why I

New York Sun Tue.Sept.10,1940

had a swell time if the mystification had gone on a couple of hours longer. The other is the box office of the Morosco. wlilch slaps a tax on passes to those members of the working press who returned, their regular untaxed tickets because of! the conflict with Jupiter Laughs. If the practice is known to Charley Washburn, the press agent of the show, and the Shuberts, who run the house, they're not being as smart as usual. If they don't known about it, it's time they found out, That, tho, fails to affect the entertainment inside. Dante, along with Mol Yo Miller, his chief assistant, and the capable boys and girls who help him \ "" " tricks, was watched on third nig! distinguished a collection of Br luminaries as any magt could g magically or otherwise—and they enthusiastic as a bunch of kids, gave them sufficient reason.

shall not disclose how Dante does all these puzzling things. First, it would not be fair. Second, I do not know. But the wonderment, the guessing and the theories one evolves during a show of this kind arc half the fun. The audienci ad I—had a wonderful time.

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