Yesterday, Saturday February 18th, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon sponsored by the Naval Station Norfolk, Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Team. For $5.00 admission everyone received a nice lunch of macaroni & cheese, cheese & broccoli bites and chicken tenders. The lunch started at noon and ran until about 2 pm at Vista Point, a beautiful MWR facility along the ocean front overlooking the Willoughby Bay at Naval Station Norfolk, VA. As I entered the dining room, there were roughly 15-20 people already there. A nicely dressed young man was at one of the tables showing a family a bit of coin magic. As I found a seat at a table in the rear of the room, I watched as the rest of the crown arrived.

The MWR team had set up a wonderful buffet on a series of tables along the side and back walls. A stage was set with enough seating for about 75 people. Curiously there were a series of stainless steel kitchen strainers laying upside down about 5 feet from the bottom of the stage. They were attached to each other by a very colorful silk streamer. Each table was adorned with a silver or gold top hat as a centerpiece, and it was filled with crayons and markers. Pages were laid on each table for the children to color. Several cowboy hats, tiaras and top hats were laid out along a back table. There was a lovely backdrop in one corner for parents to take photos of their children. A popcorn machine was full and little bags of freshly popped corn were available for everyone.

About 65 people arrived in all, and a young man got on stage and announced at noon, that everyone was welcome to begin forming a line at the buffet table and that their show would start in about a half an hour. Much commotion ensured as everyone got their plates and drinks. The meal was not fancy, but certainly an excellent choice for a group of hungry children of all ages. At 1230 the young man got on stage and announced it was time for everyone to start moving to the chairs set in front of the stage, and to use the facilities if needed before the entertainment started. After about 5 minutes he introduced the performer, Mr. E. C. Hanna III, Magician, Puppeteer and Entertainer.

Mr. Hanna took to the stage, did a quick sound test to ensure everyone in the audience could hear him. He opened with an effect that got the entire audience involved. Having everyone place their hands in front of them, thumbs down and palms outboard, then had everyone interlock their fingers by placing either hand over the other. Thumbs still down. Then he took his hands and turned his thumbs upward toward the sky, no one else was able to do so, except him.

Next he brought a young lady up on stage and showed her how a coin falls into her hand, then made the coin fall upwards, did several vanishes and reappearances as the coin jumped about on its own accord. He then mentioned that he hadn’t had a chance to eat anything before he started his show. He asked the children in the audience what their favorite foods were. After many comical replies from the kids, he said he was going to make a magical peanut and jelly sandwich. He had the young lady select two pieces of bread from a loaf, examine them and they were placed inside a zip lock bag. Once sealed, the little girl held them between her hands against her chest at center stage. E. C. ran to each side of the stage and showed a jar of peanut butter sitting on a chair on one side of the stage, and a jar of grape jelly on a chair on the other side, each covered with a black cover. He explains that he will magically make the peanut butter and jelly switch places and invisibly pass through the bread and magically make the sandwich. A magic word is said by all, we’re all told the jars have changed places, another magic word and we’re told they have returned to their original places on the chairs. E. C. then shows the jars are back in their original positions. Some of the sharper children begin to question his magical prowess. So, E. C. speaks the magic words again, and lifts each cover to show that the peanut butter and the jelly have indeed switched places on stage. Another magic word and when he uncovers them they have returned to their original positions. The young lady opens the sandwich bag to show a completed peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

This was followed by a cups and balls routine, perhaps the oldest effect known to magic. He repeatedly made the balls pass through the solid copper cups, disappear, reappear and eventually they changed into lemons. He brought two gentlemen to stage, and had each of them tie numerous tight knots securing two white silks to each other. Instantly making the knots disappear much to the chagrin of the two husky Dads on stage. This effect is followed by another classic children’s effect, Hippity Hop rabbits. This is another effect in which the children all think they know how it works, only to be very surprised at the end of the effect by the real magic. A white rabbit is on one side, and a black rabbit on the other side, magician covers and turns them 180 degrees and they have changed position. This is done several times, until the young audience has “caught on” and the magician removes the covers to expose a red rabbit on the back of one and a yellow rabbit on the other.

He brings two young boys up on stage, does a nice cut and restored rope routine. The rope is cut, restored, cut again and shown to be an actual loop of single cord with no end at all. Back to two separate ropes and finally one long piece of rope which is given to one of the two young boys to keep. He follows this with an effect using three balls, which he expertly juggles for a while. Green, yellow and then red are dropped into a tube similar to a traffic light. Magically they end up being in a different order, he drops them into the tube again, and they are in yet a different and still incorrect order. One is made to disappear, and reappear in the Magician’s hand, then dropped into a pocket, the other two are placed inside the tube and magically all three end up in the tube in the right order, green, yellow and red.

He brings a gentleman in front of the stage and shuffles a deck of cards, has him select a card, remember it, bands them together with a couple rubber bands. The cards are tossed around the room from one spectator to another. Each person is asked to open the deck somewhere in the middle, and remember which card they saw. All are brought in front of the stage, and each is told to pick up a magic mind reading helmet (kitchen strainer) and to place it on their head. Each person is told they must strap it on with the rubber band chin strap. Once everyone is connected, so to speak, Mr. Hanna instructs them all to raise their hands into the air, arms extended straight up, and make a very high pitched sound as they think about their card. This is repeated several times, until he thinks he has everyone’s card. Keep in mind everyone is actually connected by the silk streamer. The kids in the audience are now going wild watching the grown-ups looking so silly with stainless steel strainers on their heads. Amazingly, he recites everyone’s card. Except the original selector, who is required to do one final high pitched sound while his hands are raised in the air, and wouldn’t you know it, Mr. Hanna announces the Queen of Hearts, his card. This was the grand finale to a great performance. Children and adults alike had a fantastic time.

E. C. Hanna III, Magician, Puppeteer and Entertainer may be reached by phone at 610-762-0075 or by e-mail at: ECHANNAIII@GMAIL.COM for booking of future events.

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