This past Saturday, Megan and I had the pleasure of attending The Illusionists: Live from Broadway. After the show I had a realization about how I, as a spectator, watch a magic show and how I, as a performer, want my show to be viewed.
Every time I attend a theatrical show, I am always quite diligent to take copious mental notes in order to thoroughly examine the show later when I am no longer basking in the magic of theatre. A magic show is no different, but somehow extremely different at the same time.
When the show ended and Megan and I made our way out of the theatre, I was still trying to process the show I had just seen and the performers I had just watched expertly practice their craft. I knew I had seen a magic show, and I know who I had seen in said show, but for some reason… I couldn’t remember any of the actual show. I blurted excitedly to Megan, as I always do before she had a chance to ask me, (So I know she isn’t just saying she liked what I liked so I’ll think she’s cool… I’ll think she’s cool anyway but don’t tell her that) what her favorite part was. She asked me to go over the first act of the show because she knew it was something from that act but couldn’t quite remember it… sadly, neither could I… And I think I know why.
The same thing happened to me when I saw Penn & Teller in Las Vegas. This had been a life-long dream of mine, and the excitement of seeing The Bullet Catch, Shadows, Cellfish…and other well-known effects was enough to overshadow the things that I wasn’t as familiar with. P&T have been my number one go-to favorites for as long as I can remember. There was something euphoric about sitting in their theatre, seeing Penn and Mike Jones play Jazz before the show began, and finally, seeing them walk onstage and begin a mind blowing evening of magic. I don’t remember any of that show either!
The things I mentioned as I described their most well knows effects are the things I remember best. They are pieces I have seen hundreds of times on video, pieces I have read about hundreds of times in countless different places, and pieces that I talk about most often when I’m discussing my favorite moments in magic. It’s not that I don’t remember the show, it’s that I’m remembering the things that I care about, and want to take away with me!
In the case of The Illusionists, I took away the live performance of Kevin James and his
Snowstorm and Floating Rose. I saw Jeff Hobson do the most fabulous Egg Bag and Torn and Restored String. Colin Cloud opened the show with an effect that blew my mind for reasons I shan’t divulge in this blog for the sake of not having to explain why it was impressive for me… I saw a world champion card manipulator work with cards and a daredevil lie on one nail. It was fantastic and I would go again in a heartbeat.
Now, this brings me to the point of this blog entry! Yeah… We have come this far and I haven’t even got to the point of the entry! Don't worry though! It's short and sweet!
Near the end of my show, there is a line that offers the audience the opportunity to look back at the show and find an image that they can take away from the performance. I think in some way, there is a relief in the crowd if they know it’s okay to not have to remember every single thing I did, but rather take away a single image that they can share and hold onto. While some performers like to look back and recap everything that they did throughout the show, I want my audience to pick their favorite moment. Chances are, everyone will have something slightly different and everything in your show will end up getting brought up again when they discuss it. And it might not even be an effect, it might be a joke or a volunteer interaction, or maybe I messed up a word. Whatever it is, if it was good enough for them to remember, then I have done my job.
If you ever have the chance to see me perform, I hope to hear about your favorite moment in the show. AND! If you have already seen me perform, I want to hear your favorite moment!
Thanks for reading!
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Catch you next week!