The Hickson Cup for me has always been one of
the many highlights of the calendar year, and
this year, the 41st Hickson Cup (since records
began) was no exception.
There were 8 acts in all, a few of which filled
in at the last minute as in the last week we had
several cancellations to contend with. Well done
to compere Daren Morgan for organising the whole
At the start I don't think Daren quite realised
how difficult it was actually going to be to
compere an event like this. After all, when Ted
Lumby or Richard Whymark do it they make it seem
so effortless, but it has to be said that after
a slow start he came into his own and he helped
make the whole evening go with a swing.
Ray is certainly no stranger to the stage at the
Ipswich Magical Society and in so many ways he
was the perfect opening act.
It may be true to say that not all the magic
went immediately to plan (or did it? I can never
tell with Ray), but his charm and natural comedy
talent came through in abundance. Without doubt, Ray
Crosbie knows how to be entertaining. Everyone was
in tears of laughter. I think if Tommy Cooper had
been there himself, he couldn't have been as funny
Actually that reminds me of his performance in
last years competition, where I believe I may have
said something similar. However, if I am honest I
have to say that his performance this year was a
hundred times better than last year. It seemed to me
like last year he was actually trying to emulate
Tommy Cooper and make things go wrong from the
outset. This really didn't work very well at all for
me. This year though, it seemed that he was just
being the Ray Crosbie we all know and love.
There is only one Ray Crosbie and it should be
no surprise to anyone that he has won both the
Hickson Cup and the Vera Smith Cup on several
occasions. It wasn't to be so on this night but if
it had of been, I for one would not have been
surprised. Well done Ray. A great performance.
Duane was one of the acts that were kind enough
to fill in at the last minute, which is a shame
as if he had a little more rehearsal time
available to him I believe that he has it within
himself to be a future winner of this
Duane has a natural talent for patter and
scripting and that combined with his sense of
theatre makes him a natural performer. He also
has great audience management skill which many
of us, professional and amateur alike would do
well to learn from.
He begin with a very nice card routine with his
chosen spectator acting as a human photocopy
machine. After this he moved on to misers
dream/Six card (well 6 coin) repeat type of
affair that consisted of an old lady, her magic
bag, 6 coins and a casino. If there was a prize
for originality then Duane would be right up
there and as I said before, Duane Tucker will
before long be a winner of this competition.
Mark my words.
I have no doubts that Rob Cope will go as far in
the world of magic as he wants to take it. He
has already developed his own brand of "in your
face, cheeky chappie, cockney comedy magic" and
he is always such a pleasure to watch whenever
As with Duane Tucker, Rob also filled in at the
last minute, and yet still he managed to create
an innovative 007 themed act full of comedy and
magic. Perhaps on the night there were more
jokes than magic, and this was perhaps a reason
why he didn't win but nevertheless Rob was one
of the most entertaining performers present.
I have reviewed the magic of Nick Chapman on the
website several times now and to be honest I am
running out of different ways of describing how
wonderful I think his act is. In short his
performance was magical in the purest sense of
the word and he was a very deserved winner of
the 2006 Hickson Cup Trophy.
Nicks silent (but wonderfully choreographed to
music) act always reminds me of the traditional
magicians of yesteryear, although today he is
more likely to be compared to the likes of Scott
Penrose or Roy Davenport.
He started out with his classic linking rings
routine, followed some fancy card productions,
his razor blade swallowing routine and then my
all time favourite his floating zombie ball. I
have seen Nick perform the zombie ball routine
many times now but on this occasion I feel he
managed to reach a whole new level.
The large red beach ball sized object really did
seem to have a life all of its' own and was
seemingly flying about the stage, almost dancing
to the music with Nick almost just being an
incidental part of the whole affair.
It is obvious that Nick has performed this
routine many times now and as such the fact that
it was so polished meant that this was always
going to be the act to beat.
|Michael J. Fitch
Michael is one of the more experienced magicians
that took part, and this was obvious the moment
he walked out on to the stage.
Michaels act was a well thought out and
perfectly executed set of routines that flowed
together from beginning to end with fluency,
comedy and above all magic. Lots of it!
In just the space of just 10 minutes, we were
treated to a Pavel style moving knot routine (with
the help of two spectators), a great chop cup
routine (as it happens one of many that night), that
included some great "Duncaine Trophy" worthy golf
ball productions). I should add that the whole Chop
Cup routine was a great demonstration of
misdirection that even Michael Ammar himself would
have been proud of. The final load was a lemon which
was given to an audience member as a prize. This was
a really nice idea for several reasons, but more of
that in a moment.
Michael then did his own great two phase version
of card in balloon (which itself included a nice
production and vanish of a candle!), and as if all
this wasn't enough, for his finale he performed a
signed bill in Lemon, and yes, you guessed it - the
same lemon that was handed out as part of the chop
cup routine. How's that for continuity!
All this magic and he had it timed so perfectly
that the 10 minute buzzer went as if on queue, the
moment the signed bill was unfolded after being
removed from the Lemon. This was a great act and
Michael has proved once again why he is such a
successful professional magician.
On the night Michael J. won of the Vera Smith
Cup (for runner up) but I am just glad that I wasn't
a judge as I wouldn't have been able to decide
between him and Nick Chapman.
Marc Jacobs is without question an incredible
performer. I have said it before, and I will say
it again. He has a mental persona that can send
shivers up your spine.
The Hickson Cup was always going to be a
difficult venue for a mentalist to excel in, but
for me it was a welcome contrast from the other
acts. Personally I feel we should have at least
one mentalist perform every year.
Marc begin by using whatever 6th
sense skills he has to name a genuinely freely
selected card. This was just a quick appetiser
though for what was about to come.
The body of Marc's act was a Russian Roulette
style routine with 5, very evil looking staple
guns and four extremely nervous looking
On the table were 5 envelopes, and 5 staple
guns. The staple guns were numbered from 1-5 by
a fifth spectator. Only one of the guns was
loaded with staples. The others all fired
Marc then drew a different picture on each of
the 5 envelopes. One by one, each of the four
spectators choose one of the envelopes. The envelope
contained a number and the staple gun that
corresponded to this number was then picked up by
the fifth spectator, who removed the safety catch
and fired the staple gun against the hand of the
I am just glad it wasn't me that was called up
to help, as wetting your pants on stage is never a
With one gun left, Marc demonstrated that there
was indeed staples loaded in this last gun, as at
the end it was fired against a book.
I would like to think that with routines such as
this, Mentalism really does have a future in the
It has be said by some that I do not mention
Richard Whymark's name often enough in my
reviews and Newsletters (and you know who you
If that is so then I really do owe him a big
apology, because Richard Whymark is not only one
of the best comedy magicians we have in the
society, but I suspect in the country.
I have seen him perform live many times now, not
just at the society and conventions, but also in his
one man show at Stowmarket last year. If you missed
it you really should make a serious effort to go if
he does another one.
Sadly, due to unseen circumstances I had to miss
the show he did with Andy Leach at Leiston at the
end of 2005, but I have since seen the DVD that was
produced as a result and I just have to say that the
cover design is truly awesome!!
Anyway - I digress, back to the Hickson Cup. The
point I was trying to make is that it was never
going to be a surprise as to how good Richard
Whymark was going to be. As a working professional,
we always except so much from him and time and time
again he doesn't disappoint. Monday 22nd
May 2006 was no exception.
Richard Whymark makes performing seem so
effortless, and although I myself still have limited
performing experience, I do know that that simply
Although outside the society Richard is known
more as a comedian than he is a magician on the
night he proved himself to be every bit the magician
and I have to confess that his chop cup routine was
nothing short of excellent. It was good to see a
duck (or two) make an appearance as well.
Other magic he performed on the night was a
Macdonald's straw production (You had to be there,
but it played a lot bigger than it sounds), his
trademark (sucker) disappearing beaker routine and a
very funny Rocky Racoon, Zig-Zag girl illusion all
done to music.
The thing that comes across from watching
Richard perform is that it is constant
entertainment, from beginning to end.
Richard is a several times winner of the Vera
Smith Trophy (in fact between 2002 and 2004 I think
he owned it) and he was certainly a contender for an
award this year. It only goes to show how strong the
rest of the field was when a performance like this
fails to win a prize.
Once again I have been fortunate enough to have
seen Bill Burch perform on stage several times
now. Amongst other places he has been fine
tuning his act at the various at-homes we have
been doing recently.
I will say at the outset that I will never tire
of watching Bill perform. This guy always has me
in fits of laughter and there is always a
surprise to be had.
He has developed his very own style of magic
that makes me smile the second he walks on to the
stage and he starts waving that foot of his about in
time to the music. I was going to compare him to the
likes of Tony Hancock or Victor Meldew, but to be
honest with you the only person he should be
compared to is Bill Burch. Bill has successfully
created a persona for himself, and the magic has
been built up around it. It is no surprise that he
is a two times winner of the David and Doreen
Children's competition. This was his first (to my
knowledge) entry into the Hickson Cup, but hopefully
from know on we will se him enter future
competitions because we really do need to see Bill
Burch perform more. Happiness is good for the
health, and watching Bill makes me happy.
If there had been a prize for Comedy Magic then
Bill Burch's name would have been right up there.
That isn't to say though that there isn't some great
magic included in his act.
Normally I would say it was a disadvantage going
last in such a competition, as several of his
effects had already been performed by other
magicians. However his Dingle, Dangle Chinese sticks
routine and his chop cup routine are so much his own
that this fact really didn't matter, and as to why
his flower manipulation didn't win the Paul Duncaine
Trophy - well wonders will never cease.
Bill is another member of the society we all
should be proud of. Watching him perform is always
going to be fun.
|Hickson Cup Winner
|Vera Smith Cup Winner
|Michael J. Fitch
|Paul Duncaine Cup Winner
So there we have it. After a short amount of
time for the judges to have a brief discussion,
and for all the points to be added up, the
winners were announced.
It has to be said that at the time I was
somewhat surprised by the fact that the Paul
Duncaine trophy was not awarded this year. It is
meant to go to the performer who includes the most
impressive manipulations, and although it does not
have to be awarded if there were no such
manipulations I felt this year of all years there
were several reasons why it should have been
To name just a few, Michael J. Fitch's Golf Ball
productions or Nick Chapman's Card productions to
Top hat would both have deserved the award, not to
mention Bill Burch and Richard Whymark's chop cup
routines, and of course Bill's Flower Production
Perhaps this trophy and the guidelines for when
it is awarded should be re-discussed at the next
As we are talking about manipulation I should
also say that Michael Fitch's Lemon switch was also
a real joy to behold. Although I didn't see it
actually happen (If I had, I probably wouldn't be
mentioning it). I did know that it had occurred. It
was another excellent example of a great move
executed with perfect misdirection.
I would say that the winner and runner up were
both very well deserved as their acts both
constituted the most amount of magic that was seen
on the night, but that doesn't mean that all of the
other acts were any the less more enjoyable to
All in all I would say that the entire night was
a real credit to the society. We have some really
great performers amongst us at the moment and the
whole night was as enjoyable for the magicians and
Reviewed by Simon Shaw