Originally published in MUM magazine, May 2001.
If you are looking for a magic convention atmosphere, you won't find it at Jeff McBride's Master Class. Master Class is held at Jeff McBride's home in Las Vegas, Nevada and only ten students may attend the three-day session.
I have to admit I was not sure what to expect when I signed up to attend Master Class. I've been working on a theme act based on the game of golf and was hoping to get some professional advice from Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger. Not only did I get the advice I was looking for, the inspiration from Jeff and Eugene will last a lifetime.
Each day started at noon with a "Vision Council." This is where we had the opportunity to clarify our personal goals in magic and express our expectations for attending Master Class. The most productive part of class for me was called "Works in Progress." My entire act was videotaped as Jeff took detailed notes. At the conclusion of my performance, he walked me through each aspect of each routine. This valuable time was also videotaped. Jeff offered knowledgeable advice on handling props, streamlining routines, staging, eye contact, and selecting patter and music. My 12-minute act was quickly cut to seven minutes with a much more powerful opening and closing.
The value of information Jeff offered in the "Works in Progress" sessions alone was well worth the cost of registration.
Eugene Burger interjected wisdom and advice during the three-day session and spoke in great detail on the performance of magic and the philosophy of close-up magic. Eugene performed and taught several effects demonstrating the wonderful theater close-up magic can make.
Tobias Beckwith is Jeff's manager and is a well-accomplished student of the stage and theater. Tobias presented a movement theater training session each day. Students learned methods of character development, body warm-ups and exercise techniques, and voice control techniques.
Several unadvertised guests showed up, as well. A very inspirational and funny Dan Harlan spoke on magic creativity. Jen Adams spoke on her brand of magic and, Don Drake, an expert on black art. magic, demonstrated some clever illusions with black art. Very interesting stuff! My experience at Master Class was life changing for me. It helped me discover the passion in my magic and I came home truly inspired to pursue my magic goals. My magic golf act now has a clear direction thanks to Jeff McBride. I look forward to performing my new act next year at corporate functions and magic conventions.