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the conjurer
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Hi all--

I know this has been discussed before, but thought I might be able to get a more "pointed answer" to the age old question.

The problem (If you want to call it that) is--

What is the best all around (show opening) production for a small to medium sized illusion show/act?

Not a large show, but a show that must troupe each night to make money. And a show that will be trouped in an SUV with a small trailer in tow. A show most magicians would mount. One that doesn't always have a theatre to perform in, or a large tech crew or troupe of assistants to help set-up, strike and perform the illusion(s).

Now the production can be of the magician or one or two of his assistants and would have a big impact. And It would perferable that this production could be performed surrounded is possible, or at least have "very good" sight lines, so that it would work under "most" conditions (i.e. malls, banquet rooms, nightclub dance floors, etc.

A couple of llusions might be things like The Blammo Box and The Modern Cabinet. But these are just illustrations to act as a jumping off point.

I would really like to hear what the "working illusionist" has to say.

What illusion have you used or would you use if you were building a Small to medium traveling illusion show.


I look forward to reading your posts!
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Profile of DanielSteep
I Have a "small illusion show" I would suggest a sub trunk, And a zig zag with piano hinges so that it can fold flat.
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Fire cage packs small
Steven True
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I agree with MagicalOdyssey about the Zig Zag with the piano hinges. I used to do this in Calif along with a Temple of Benares and the ZZ broke down really fast. The Temple took a little longer but with practice I was able to get it down to around 10 mins. Do you have the show ready yet? Are you ready to put it on the road? How long is it going to be? Let us know.

Good Luck

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Try Dream Illusion Fire Cage, it packs small and fit into a custom ATA case. The price is resonable too and it would make a perfect opener for an illusion show!

I use a vanishing torch made by Japanese Magician Sakoh for my opening trick for standard shows.

Jeremy Pei

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A few points to clarify first.....

I would assume, you do not have a front curtain (at least all or most of the time). Do you usually have some sort of wing space where you could "load into" a load chamber of an illusion?

You are looking for an opening production but in my eyes a closing illusion is more important. Others have suggested illusions that are not production pieces (ie. sub trunk, zig zag). If you already have a closing piece and an illusion to go into the middle of your show then the other suggestions are not of any real importance in your case.

What are some other pieces in your show. A fire cage may not be the best fit if you have a shadow box already. as both to the audience are kinda sorta similar. (But to us, they are a world apart.... but what do we know anyway... Smile )

What is your budget? less than 1K? less than 500? more than 1000, 2000...? very important question for any of us to be able to REALLY help you out.

Do you always have 2 assistants with you, or sometimes one, and sometimes it is just you?

details, we all need detailed details of your situation to be able to give a good answer. Otherwise... you will get answers like: the elevator is a great opening, just get the rights, shell out some pretty big bucks, and make sure you have fly space and a rigger handy.

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An opener I used for a while was a growing box, similar to something in "Tops treasure of illusions".

There was a recorded announcement, the curtain would open, or my assistant would push out a small pagoda looking box. It was quite tiny looking.

The music welled, and the box would start to grow vertically. When it got to be about 6 fet tall, the sides fell down, and there I stood. Stepped out and went in to first routine.

The entire box base was maybe 2 1/2 feet square. The "roof" was mede of fabric and would collapse. Ther side spports were PVC pipe. I built it from scrap lumber and farbic, and had the sides painted with acrylic paint.

When it was all folded down, it LOOKED tiny tiny, like there was no way anyone was inside. When it was open all the way, it was tall and thin, so when the sides dropped the performer seemed to fill the available space of the expanded cabinet.

It weighed next to nothing. Lasted about 45 seconds. Looked mysterious. It also doubled as a dolly to bring in other props! LOL... No great mystery in how it worked... But it was pretty.
Leaping Lizards!!! Who knew it was possible.
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Profile of MagicFingers
Check out some of Andrew Mayne's Illusion Plans. He has a cou0ple of fairly cool openings. Spectre Cabinet is pretty cool, inexpensive and packs into a duffle bag.

Osborne Illusion Plans are invaluable. Check them out. I would recommend doing an opening like Spectre Cabinet, or even your Growing Box (which is pretty cool too) and then going straight into a production of an assistant before you even speak to the audience.
Julian Bond
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I open with a tip-over trunk.the only downside is that it is a little angle sensitive.
im an illusionist
Nick Wait
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I actually had an idea(may not be original) about opening with a sub trunk, i.e. The box is already on stage, assistant comes on, spins box round etc, then she just stands on the box and the substitution is occurs. I appreciate that this is not as strong for many as an actual sub trunk routine, but it makes for an intresting opener. The effect is still the same but you simply have slightly less impossible conditions. Feel free to use this(if it is an original idea) as I have decided against this as I feel it makes for a stronger effect lateron.
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It's tough to think of one specific opener that would work for everybody; it's really going to have to be something to work out when you design your show. Are you the main star, or is it an ensemble production? What's your style of magic? What illusion do you intend to perform next? (The last is vitally important to consider if you have concealed props or are performing something which requires a costume change.) You're also going to need to remember that this is your best chance to sell your show to the audience, so it should be flashy, but not necessarily the best trick in your show. I personally think zig-zag would be a poor choice as the intro number. There's too much fooling around with the cabinet, and it can slow the pace down.

It's also not a production. Since you asked for a production, here's a few ideas:

Producing yourself is a good intro for a magician who centers the show around himself(herself), especially if he doesn't have a need for an assistant in his next routine. Ideally, it would be a self-working production, so there's no need for an assistant to step on stage at all.

Producing an assistant is good as well, if your next routine requires one, and the Blammo box is great for that- but the illusion has more of an impact if you've already established it as a prop for doves or silks. Another illusion which would work well would be a large Square Circle (if done quickly) or the new Victory Cubes that I've seen talked about elsewhere on this board. (That one also has the advantage of packing up incredibly small, though I'm not certain of the angle requirements.)

If I was organizing a full ensemble performance, or had three or four assistants/stage hands who'd be constantly coming back, I'd produce them all (maybe including myself) at the start of the show. There's a few ways to do this; do some research to find the best one for your angles and limitations.
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the conjurer
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Hi all--

Thanks for all the great respones!

Since several have requested, I will try and provide a bit more information about my performance style and the other effects in the show.

First of all--

Yes I have an act. One that I have performed in some variation for about twenty years. I have included illusions at various times, ranging from Zig-Zag to Sub Trunk to DeKolta Chair to Sword Box to The Thin Model Sawing to Tip-Over Trucks to Phantom Cages to Etc .

And yes a few suspensions and levitations. Everything from a Chu's Three Sword Suspension to an Owens Aga to Asrah.

As for performance style. I have performed with several "on stage" personas. But the one that seems to do best for me is a rather tradional, dare I say, "classical" style. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea. But it is the style I appear to have the best luck at selling. With most of my clientele being country club audiences and corporate. So, black tux and tie with my assistant(s) being clad in designer style gowns and pants suits.

Much of my style stems from the magicians I have had the honor to study under. Starting with Ken Griffin and continuing on to Tom Palmer, Silvan, Harry Collins, Rinaldi, Johnny Thompson and Mark Wilson. Most of whom dressed in formal attire. I know Tom (Tony) later went bizarre, but when I worked with him he guided me towards the formal look.

In the show, I perform classic manipulation and other "standard effects". Presented in a classy, almost romantic style. Set to Jazz and classical music. With the occasional latin or more pop song thrown in to bring up the pulse of the show.

Other illusions in the show include a Blaney Suspension (3001), Sword Box, Thin Model Sawing, and a closer of the Sub Trunk in which the host ends up in the box and the magician (me) ends up int he audience. Yes, it is Mark Wilson's presentation and is being used with his permission.

Most of my performances are in hotel banquet rooms, with the occasional theatre. I carry a backdrop and have small wings on either side of the platform.

Usually I perform with only one assistant, occasionally another one or two.

My current open--

I have entered after being introduced and began my manipulation routine. It has been well received, however, I would like to add a "production" to punch up the opening.

Production of myself would be great. As would my main assistant. Thus I was thinking "Modern Cabinet" But I have never used one and wanted to hear what the working illusionist's experience with that illusion has been.

I am however interested in others, thus the point of this quest.

I would like to stay away from fire effects (i.e. Fire Cage) since there can be problems with fire laws in the hotels in which I work.

As for producing myself, I am 6' 1" and weigh in at 210 lbs. So the hiding space is best if vertical, at least that is what I think.

But again, like I said earlier--

This can be a production of my assistant, though in a perfect world, I would like to produce both of us.

Other issues--


I am an experienced illusion builder and have constructed a great number of illusions, so unless it is an effect that is patented to a specific builder, I can build it myself and have the workshop in which to construct it. So cost for me would be costs of materials.


What I would like is something that breaks down "small" (okay fairly small) and something that doesn't take too long to strike.

I hope this answers the questions asked. Thank you once again for all the assistance each of you have offered. Creating magic with such a great collections of magic minds is great fun.



The Conjurer
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Hmm, randomly tossed ideas- what do you manipulate? Maybe you could appear from a larger version of that. Say, a giant billiard ball- or maybe not; I'm suddenly remembering a scene from This Is Spinal Tap Smile

Modern Cabinet would certainly work, but I've never used one either, so I'll let someone else discuss the specifics. JC Sum has an excellent, lightning fast production, which can be performed surrounded. It's called Benchmark (link opens video). You'd want to contact him to check on specifics.
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* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
Wade Live
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