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Steve Brooks
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Learning to execute a particular move or sleight can be a real challenge and indeed all of us have struggled to learn the mechanics of an individual trick from time to time.
Once learned, the next great obstacle to tackle is the actual presentation before a spectator or audience.

Several factors should be taken into serious consideration, depending on the actual performing conditions.
Will the effect be used in a close up situation, or is it strictly a stage item? Close-up workers generally know their limitations or abilities and tend to gear their presentations accordingly. So far, so good.

But what about performing on the stage? Further, is this a single act, or could you well benefit from a partner?
Acts consisting of more then one individual are generally more popular, (Penn & Teller, etc) yet we see so very few of them. Why is that?

In a profession that is packed full of effects and illusions, it is always a treat to find a book or dvd that dares to tackle subjects beyond the usual revelation of magic secrets.

That said, I was very interested in the subject matter of Mike Maxwell's latest video project which promises to address the many aspects of performing magic as a duo. Having watched this dvd a few times I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you. Enjoy.

Rich Marotta & Twila Zone: Dynamic Duo! DVD


Disc Description: Create and perform comedy magic as a duo! Rich Marotta & Twila Zone, stars of HBO and Showtime, have over 20 years of experience and 2000 performances under their belts. Learn from their valuable insights. Rich and Twila share professional tips and secrets to many of their pet comedy routines.


I've had the opportunity to see Rich Marotta and Twila Zone perform on numerous occassions. Their act is quite provocative, and does often involve a lot of off color comedy. Mr. Marotta's stage persona gives me the impression of a no-nonsense kind of guy who struggles to perform his miracles with the aid of his ditsy female assistant. I must admit that Twila is usually the one that make's me laugh the hardest. The two are quite the pair and you either enjoy the act or you don't. Smile

In addition to performing (usually to lay audiences) Rich and Twila can be seen occassionally at conventions either performing or doing lectures and have even been known to release a trick or two for the magic community from time to time. I use Mr. Marotta's Marked Prediction in my stand-up shows on a regular basis with great results.

Having said all that, when I heard about the release of this disc I was very curious to say the least. After all, Rich and Twila are more then qualified to approach the subject matter at hand, and I have seen very little information on this topic in the past. So, when this title arrived in my mailbox I wasted no time inserting the disc into my dvd machine.

The disc starts off with an introduction by Twila, and then proceeds to switch back and forth between performances (shot live) and interviews with her partner Rich Marotta, during which the various aspects of routining and planning a multi-person act are discussed at great length.

Additionally the duo does take time out to cover some of the magic they perform on a regular basis.
Effects performed or explained include Erect Rope, Bride of Best Trick, The Comedy Levitation, Appearing Fishbowl from Bag, Appearing Scarf, Hand through Body, Bird from Frame, Dove from Paper Bag, Arm Chopper and Appearing Fish.

I should point out that none of these tricks are groundbreaking, and frankly their not meant to be. These are effects that Rich and Twila perform night after night for real people under real world conditions. They include them here more as examples of what can be done with a single effect presented by two individuals as opposed to a single performer.

The performance segments were all taped during one of the past A-1 Convention at the Capital shows, and the audience naturally consisted of mostly magicians. Still, the material managed to go over fairly well I thought. I myself was present during the show and don't recall any real complaints from audience members afterwards.

Magic tricks aside, the real value of this offering, lay in the sage advice that both these stellar performers share with us concerning planning and structuring your show.

Topics include:

  • How to expand your act
  • Developing a character
  • Routining for two people
  • Character motivation
  • Polishing old routines
  • On-stage relationships
  • Eccentric characterization
  • Misdirection through division of attention

A lot of information indeed, and I think I not only learned a couple things, but came up with a few ideas and approaches of my own. Smile

However, I do think the production values could have been a little bit better. The editing was not the best I've seen, and it appears as if Mr. Maxwell may have rushed to put this project together. For example, the menu lists a chapter called Bloopers, and I was eager to see all the usual behind the scenes antics. Instead, we see one so-called blooper, and it is really more of Rich joking about Maxwell then an actual blooper. In addition, the music became very annoying in just a short period of time. I would recommend a little variety on future titles and with a volume consistent with the rest of the disc. Smile

In conclusion I will admit that I enjoyed watching this disc, but must point out that the real value of this project will not become evident until you have had the chance to view it multiple times. Smile

Also remember that while there is some great advice here, not everything on the subject has been addressed. Still, those seeking to take on the challenge of putting together a duo on stage can not go wrong with this title as a starting point and the price is right. Recommended.


My rating:

Available from your favorite dealer or you may purchase directly from: A-1 Magicalmedia, Inc.
4961-C Windplay Drive. Eldorado Hills, Ca. 95762
TOLL FREE: (800) 876-8437
Phone: (916) 933-5439 ; Fax: (916)933-5674
Or visit the A-1 website at:
Click here!

Suggested retail is $34.95

Dealers - contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, Inc.
Toll Free: 1-800-853-7403
Or visit Murphy's website:
Click here!
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
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