Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

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Dustin Stinett
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Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Dustin Stinett » March 29th, 2009, 10:21 pm

The Return of Carnival of Wonders
By Dustin Stinett

Had you asked someone about five years ago whether or not Carnival of Wonders would ever again raise its tents, the answer you would have received was probably not. A downturn in large-scale magic shows in casinos coupled with a legal dispute between the principals seemed to be the coup de grace for one of the most beloved magic shows ever mounted. But those seeming insurmountable obstacles have indeed been overcome and Carnival of Wonders, starring Mark Kalin, Jinger Leigh, and Jeff Hobson is back!

Whats past is pastwe are moving forward, is Kalins answer regarding the lawsuit that troubled the troupe and led to the demise of the show. As far as the business environment, Kalin has adapted Carnival to the new business paradigmand found that it was easier than he thought. The elements of Carnival that everyone loved do not take two semi trucks to move, he says.

Carnival of Wonders was originally a very complex show. It was designed to stay in one theater for three years, says Kalin. There was elaborate scenery that took weeks to install. Now we have a show that will be able to load into a theater in a day or two, run through its contract, and load out in a day and go to the next venue. Thats the reality of the business today. Not that the show will be lacking in that regard. It is still a very rich looking show, says Kalin.

When the idea to remount Carnival came to himduring the summer of 2008 while performing in Atlantic CityKalin promised himself that certain criteria would have to be met before he took the leap. One of those would be Hobson agreeing to join the show. Carnival of Wonders was one of the best things Kalin & Jinger ever did, says Kalin, and the best version was the one with Hobson. He agreed and Kalin suspects for the same reasons Kalin and Jinger wanted to it: Its a good business decision, says Kalin. It was a very marketable show, and it still is. Kalin also believes that the three artists never had the opportunity to explore the premise. Artistically, it never played out fully. He adds, It was an unfinished thought.

The other criteria were also key members of the originalbut behind the scenesartistic team. Joanie Spina, Jim Steinmeyer, and Peggy Hickey, our choreographer, were integral to Carnival from the beginning, says Kalin. In fact, they go back to Before Your Very Eyes, the forerunner of Carnival, he adds. When they all agreed to join the show, the decision was made for me, says Kalin.

Asked if the big cats would also return, Kalin laughed. Ive been asked that several times. Ive also been asked if we would be vanishing the jumbo jet too. The answer to both questions is no. We only had two illusions with cats to begin with. We sold one and have adapted the other without the cat, says Kalin. Cats require a lot of care, work, and permits and other local issues. As far as the jumbo jet goes, I just tell them that they need a one-acre stage. None of that is part of the new business model.

That model is a direct buy from the casinos and not the four wall model that many magic shows use. Mobility makes the show profitable for all parties. Compared to the $100 million shows out there, Carnival of Wonders is an inexpensive show, says Kalin, but it still has a lot going for it, he adds. It hits on all cylinders and has a lot of punch.

Kalin is clearly not alone in that estimation since they already have an extended contract at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. I really thought with the economy that it would take a year or so to land a contract, says Kalin. But we nabbed a three-month summer contract at a great property with a great showroom and a good budget.

The person who made that contract is the VP of Entertainment for Trump Resorts, Steve Gietka. He does have a history with Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson. Hes the guy who bought Before Your Very Eyes in Atlantic City all those years ago, says Kalin. As soon as he heard we were mounting the show again, he wanted it. The team is thrilled with the contract and is certain that its what they need to get the show on track.

According to Kalin, the show will be largely based on the version that ran at the old Flamingo Hilton in Reno. That is considered by most to be the best version we did, he says. The showroom was intimateperfect for that show. But he acknowledges a luxury that the creative team will take advantage of: We have a lot of great stuff we can pull from the shows we did at the Reno Hilton. The Reno Hilton, with its large showroom and enormous stage, was the last venue for Carnival. They then mounted Illusionarium before switching gears completely and opening their own venue, Magic Underground, where they performed Real Magic and various holiday themed shows as well. We will be tapping all these sources for the new version of Carnival, says Kalin. There is some stuff that simply didnt exist when we were at the Flamingo, he adds.

Prior to the Trump Plaza, Carnival of Wonders will probably be making at least one stop at an Indian Casino. Its going to be a three day run, so it will be a great test of the new format, says Kalin.

Their schedule leading up to Atlantic City isnt complete, but rest assured that Genii Forum readers will be among the first to know. In the mean time, you can make plans to join the Carnival when it arrives in Atlantic City on June 23. It will run Tuesdays through Sundays (two shows on Sunday) through September 6. Tickets will be available starting on April 11 through Ticketmaster at 1-800-736-1420 or on-line at www.ticketmaster.com.

For more information, you can also go to www.TrumpPlaza.com or go directly to the Carnival of Wonders at the Trump Plaza by clicking here.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Pepka » March 30th, 2009, 1:40 am

This is huge! I saw Mark and Jinger last year in A.C. and while I really love their show, I missed Hobson from the show years ago. I'm sure I'll make at least one trip down to see them this summer.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Tim Ellis » March 30th, 2009, 2:34 am

I'm glad this is coming back. Carnival of Wonders is the best magic show I've ever seen.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Dave Shepherd » March 30th, 2009, 1:24 pm

I too am glad to see this back again. The news of the conflict between Hobson and M&J was distressing. I saw "Before Your Very Eyes" and thought it was an amazingly smart show. Didn't see Carnival of Wonders, but now maybe I'll get a chance.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Jeremy Greystoke » March 30th, 2009, 5:01 pm

This is absolutely wonderful news. My wife and I saw "Before Your Very Eyes" when it played at Trump Marina in Atlantic City some years ago and we were just stunned at how great the show was. I've been looking for an excuse to head back up to Atlantic City (the siren call of White House Subs is an ever-present lure) and this will be a fun excursion this summer.

Jeremy

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Pete Biro » March 31st, 2009, 2:15 am

Great news... great TALENTS... can't miss.
Stay tooned.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 1st, 2009, 2:35 am

Here are some other Carnival of Wonders show dates for your consideration:

Sept 11, 12 & 13 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

Sept 26 & 27 at the Soaring Eagle Indian Casino, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 24th, 2009, 2:14 am

Reminder! "Carnival of Wonders" with Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson has opened in Atlantic City!

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby michael mode » June 26th, 2009, 1:27 am

Just saw Carnival of Wonders at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and it's the best show I've seen in a really long time. So refreshing to see great magic performed by true pros. Also, the chemistry between Kalin, Jinger and Hobson is unmatchable. I think the audience agreed judging by the huge standing ovation at the end of the show. There has been some new material added to this version of the show and it's fantastic. If you're anywhere near Atlantic City this summer, make sure you go see Carnival of Wonders. You can even bring your non-magician friends and they will actually thank you for taking them... something you can't say for too many magic shows these days. Highly recommended.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Travis » June 26th, 2009, 8:41 am

Michael,

Can you give us a run-down of stuff that's in the show?

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby michael mode » June 27th, 2009, 2:39 pm

Giving a "run-down" of effects in Carnival of Wonders won't really do the show justice. Anyone who's seen a standard multiplying billiard ball act or an egg bag routine wouldn't run out to see another one, would they? But you put those routines in the hands of Mark Kalin or Hobson and you've got masterpieces. Those routines are both in Carnival along with lots of illusions to satisfy the magicians in the crowd. Classic Kalin and Jinger routines are abound along with tons of hilarious characters expertly presented by Hobson. Kalin and Jinger do the best version of Steinmeyer's Op-Art that I've seen and it's a great rapport builder with the crowd. Also, there's a new sequence during the House of Horrors segment that features Hobson as "Liberacula". A new pagoda routine at the end with the entire cast is VERY well done and very magical.
Another thing that I noticed was the high quality of the lighting and dancing in this version of the show. Jinger is always great, but the support dancers are really energetic and talented this time around.
The show closes with a "backdrop" ending similar to the previous versions of Carnival. I won't give any spoilers here because it's really great to have that element of surprise when seeing the show for the first time. If you've seen the show before, you know what I mean.
Bottom line... you will see some of the best magic around at Carnival of Wonders... but here's the important lesson: You'll notice that the crowd isn't talking about the effects when they're in the lobby waiting to get an autograph (yes, they come out after the show to sign posters and meet the crowd), they are all talking about how great the show is and how well the characters work together. It doesn't really matter what they do, the crowd loves them for who they are and their relationship with the audience. Ok, stop reading this and just go see the show!

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Travis » June 27th, 2009, 4:10 pm

Of course, I realize a listing of effects doesn't paint an appropriate picture of the show as a whole, but since I won't very likely have the opportunity to see it, I was curious to know of what the show consists.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 27th, 2009, 7:23 pm

Hi Travis,

Go to their site (link below), click on "Carnival of Wonders" and there is a video that will give a good feel for the show (though they will not be vanishing the jumbo jet in the current version)!

They will be touring the show, so check in to thier site to see where they might be landing next (nothing reported yet, though I know they will be in Las Vegas and Mt. Pleasant, Michigan in September). I will also be reporting their schedule here when I can.

Dustin

http://bestmagicshow.com/

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Sebastian » June 28th, 2009, 2:24 am

Carnival of Wonders Trump Plaza, Atlantic City (A Review)

When is the last time that you saw a great magic show?
For a show to be great in my book it must be entertaining.
Somewhere along the way many magicians have forgotten this premise.
Modern magic (especially as it is currently being portrayed on television) is more about the magic trick itself and the ability of that effect to amaze and fool the laity.

David Blaine popularized the importance of the reaction shot on modern TV Magic programs.
In doing so, almost unconsciously, the focus for many performers has shifted from entertaining our audiences to achieving confusion and amazement reactions from our audiences.

The successful performers in our field are successful because they never lose sight of the power of true entertainment. Transporting the audience away from the everyday and in to an enchanting experience where the magic transcends the tricks performed and the audience is taken on a theatrical journey.

This is the type of experience you should expect while taking in Kalin, Jinger & Hobsons Carnival of Wonders which opened this week at the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City.

If you have seen this show in one of its previous incarnations as the Carnival of Wonders or Before Your Very Eyes you will have an appreciation of that which I speak.

I am sure that most of the Magi reading this forum are familiar with Hobsons hilarious Egg bag and Card-to-mouth routines. Similarly, I assume that readers are familiar with the charming, dramatic and romantic style in which illusionists Mark & Jinger present their shadow illusion appearance, and pole levitation. There are some new performances pieces in this show Jim Steinmeyer's baffling Op-Art and a pagoda themed Things That Go Bump that ends with a new and surprising twist.

So what makes this a great show? It is entertaining! A scene is set a magical journey to a mystical carnival. Characters are introduced and endeared to the audience A mysterious magician, a beautiful enchantress, and a flamboyant jester. Emotions are portrayed - comedy, mystery, love, horror.

The audience laughs along with Hobson as he tortures an unsuspecting new love, they wonder along with Mark as he relives his first magic trick, they experience fear and surprise watching Jinger escape from being impaled by flaming spikes. All the while, the audience connects with the three performers. It is always refreshing to see Jinger command the stage and have an important speaking role in the show rather then just being a stereotypical lady in a box. It is equally energizing to see Hobson able to reduce a room to sustained laughter while playing 5 unique personas during the course of the show.

This is theater folks. This is spectacle, personality, story, environment and drama all wrapped up to create Magic, rather than just the old standby of relying on Magic to create entertainment.

I do have to say that I am disappointed that Mark & Jingers amazingly suspenseful presentation of the Table of Death did not make it in to this iteration of the Carnival. It is a beautiful piece of magical theater, one that I can still picture vividly in my mind having not seen it performed for over 12 years when Before Your Very Eyes last played in Atlantic City.

However, that one qualm aside, I could not recommend this show more highly.

If you plan to be in the Atlantic City area this summer, do yourself a favor and dont miss this show.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Ken Northridge » June 28th, 2009, 8:54 am

Outstanding post, Sebastian. You make some very good points.

PS Do you remember me? We worked together many years ago.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Sebastian » June 28th, 2009, 10:48 am

Sure do Ken. Great hearing from you.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 25th, 2009, 5:10 pm

Here is a review of Carnival of Wonders that appeared in the New York Daily News on Sunday, July 19, 2009 (nydailynews.com).

Please to enjoy:

[size:20pt]Magic hit does the trick[/size]

[size:14pt]In 'Carnival' of stunts, the 'Wonders' never cease[/size]
BY PHIL ROURA
The New York Daily News
July 19, 2009

If people ever doubted that big surprises come in small packages, all they need to do is take a trip down to the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City to check out the compact "Carnival of Wonders."

It is a knockout, a big fat magical hit and one of the funniest shows the town has seen in years - thanks to the zany antics of acid-tongued Jeff Hobson.

Bring Grandpa, Grandma, your aunts, your uncles and even an enemy or two. And don't forget the kids. Hobson's occasional double-entendres are not offensive and will probably fly over their heads. Anyway, they hear much more while surfing TV.

Natalie Reyes, 10, of Hamilton, N.J., for example, hardly blinked during the show, which she took in with her mother, Arlene. She laughed often and loud.

I'm not a fan of magic shows. But this is very different.

Master magicians Mark Kalin and Jinger Leigh are a lot of fun to watch as they weave their thread of a story over the 90-minute run, recalling the dazzle and excitement of how it was when the carnival came to town each summer.

From the fun house to the tunnel of love and even the house of horrors (wise guy that he is, Hobson claims the last two are really one and the same), the show takes a trip down the memory lane of your mind.

Sure, there are bits you've seen before. Leigh disappears from a closet suspended in air.
She also escapes a host of fiery torches thrust through a steel box after being locked inside.

But Kalin and Leigh have several unique tricks up their sleeves that will surprise you, particularly a levitation that induces genuine awe.

Moreover, the two do their act with class. They make you feel like a friend they haven't seen in years because a great part of their magic is their charm.

Leigh is not just one of Kalin's pretty props. She is an integral part of the tricks he performs. And when was the last time you took in a magic show and saw dancing as cleverly choreographed as this, particularly by the two boys. They perform leaps that might draw Baryshnikov's approval. (One also does a mean turn as Igor during a hilarious Dracula setup.)

But this is Hobson's show, and he steals it as cleanly as a slick bank robber. A combination of Red Skelton, Paul Lynde and Daffy Duck rolled into one, Hobson is an outrageous punster who'll have you roaring with laughter while insulting you to death.

Wearing an emerald-colored top hat that would make the Mad Hatter green with envy, the innuendos flash across the stage like a rainbow. He calls himself Mr. Twinkles, wears outrageously tight leotards, laughs a lot (like Lynde) and grabs a hunky twentysomething for a drive in a swan car through the Tunnel of Love. But Kalin makes a point to say that the comic is the father of three kids.

Hobson is not half-bad at performing simple magic bits, either. But he probably wishes he had a woman like Luba from Russia in the audience every night. It took a while
for him to convince her to come up on stage - "I don't speak much English! Please!
No!" but when she finally did, the scene turned into a hysterically funny bit involving an egg and a cloth bag. Don't ask.

If Luba was a plant who was in on the act, it still was one of the night's best tricks. Still, after all of the silliness has died down and you've wiped the tears from your eyes after laughing so much, the show's best moment is also its quietest. Alone on stage with a box of billiard balls, Kalin recalls the time he performed his very first trick. He was only 9 and his audience was his mother.

"I tried very hard to make them disappear and I did okay, but I dropped a few balls along the way," says Kalin. "I told her I was sorry and would do better next time. My mother looked at me and smiled. 'It was a masterpiece,' she said."

So is "Carnival of Wonders."

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby garciadini » July 26th, 2009, 8:37 am

Helllo everyone at Genii! I have just joined the forum and this is my first post. Oddly enough I was at the show that was just reviewed and it is dead on. This is a wonderful show, I laughed my butt off and was even amazed a few times. When Jinger does her levitation it is a sight of awe. Kalin is very smooth and professional-I especially enjoyed his billiard ball routine technique. The set and costumes are superb and of course Hobson does steal the show (I love those old jokes!) making this production unique in my eyes because it harkens back to the days of vaudeville. If anyone is in Atlantic City this show is a must!
Thanks for reading
Christopher

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby Pete Biro » July 26th, 2009, 1:37 pm

Glad to see such nice folks doing well.
Stay tooned.

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Re: Kalin, Jinger, and Hobson: The Carnival is Back!

Postby hugmagic » July 26th, 2009, 11:27 pm

Yes, they all deserve everything they earn. Don't you just love 30 year overnight success stories?

Richard
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