By Frank Barron
It was a story that captured the world’s attention. A once in a lifetime cruise that became memorable for all the wrong reasons, with passengers on a luxury ship stranded at sea with no power. Few outlets picked up on the locals who were part of the crippled Carnival Splendor cruise. But we found out about the many L.A. magicians onboard when we caught up with our friend Matt Patton, VIP events manager at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.
Patton was part of a group of more than fifty magicians on Carnival’s annual magic-themed cruise. Also on the trip was Dale Hindman, the Academy of Magical Arts past president, Christopher Hart (who played Thing in The Addams Family), Martin Lewis, Rich Block, Chipper Lowell, Shoot Agawa, the Mark Kalin and Jinger duo, among others.
“Some of the magicians flew in from various countries for the magic cruise,” Patton said. “A handful of them were members of the Magic Castle who were bused to the Long Beach embarkation of the vessel to have a good time and spread some magic.”
After the ship was underway, there was a fire in the engine room.
“We had a fire, smelled smoke, and left our cabins. And for a couple of days we were just dead in the water floating. We dined on sandwiches, but no Spam,” Patton laughed as he described the conditions. “Then we were towed to San Diego where the Carnival line put us up at a hotel and flew some back home. Some of the magicians were flown to New York to appear on the morning show to tell their stories.”
The magicians had some great stories to tell because they rallied to entertain the passengers during the ordeal.
“They performed card tricks and illusions, setting up shows around the ship to help everyone take their minds off the situation,” Patton said. “The problems didn’t disappear but everyone shared some laughs and magic.”
Magic Castle co-founder Milt Larsen was safe at home when he joked, “The magicians should have had a great time, they had a captive audience.”
Feeling a bit like he just got off Gilligan’s Island, Patton is back at the Castle producing the always entertaining Cabaret at the Castle shows. He has been introducing Broadway veterans all year long, icons such as Florence Henderson and Carol Channing, and he is going to wrap up the year with some great holiday acts. Christmas with the Crosbys is coming November 29 and 30. Also Broadway leading man James Barbour will be doing his Holiday Cabaret December 6 and 7. For even more excitement, Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, the theater crowd’s ultra-entertaining open mic show that has been a Manhattan mainstay, will be back December 8 and 9 at the Castle’s Inner Circle.
Do you want more magic? The Cinderella British Panto-style musical extravaganza coming to the El Portal will also feature magic by award winning magician Ed Alonzo. Ed calls himself “the Misfit of Magic,” but he’s actually among the best there is. Last year he created illusions for Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour, and Alonzo also created and performed the magic production numbers with Britney Spears for her concerts. And this year his good friend Neil Patrick Harris presented him the Academy of Magical Arts’ “Magician of the Year” award. So you can bet that his wonderful magic will add even more excitement and fun to the Cinderella Panto production.