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This question is in regards to a theater show.

I have been a part of shows that range from 90-120 minutes, with and without intermission. Multiple performers and one man show.

What do you think the optimum length of a show should be? Should there be an intermission? And what are some of your reasons or thoughts concerning your thoughts?


Brent McLeod
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Inner circle
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Hi Scott-

Great questions about a variety of theatre show times & duration.

We do between 60-80 theatre shows year &, like yourself, we use multiple performers & solo shows. We book & organise all the venues ourselves- It is very hard work!

We always have an intermission, as a majority of events are fundraisers & with nice food & drink & raffles, etc., etc. - this is a good money earner, as well as a nice break for you!! Make your shows a night out so people, if they want a wine, can have one, etc...

Most shows run 2 hrs, interval included in that time. & a select few run 90 mins, interval included, but these shows are fast paced with multiple acts. Some Illusion- great music & lighting- no kids shows!! Students & colleges mainly, remainder are corporate.

2 hrs in answer to your question for average duration or for more corporate style events is plenty- 90 mins with super fast show & lots of comedy!! We even use comedians from local comedy clubs as MC, etc., & they bring the house down ......


Kevin Ridgeway
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Indianapolis, IN & Phoenix, AZ
1830 Posts

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Most theatres where you might perform in will require you to have an intermission at a certain length of show...75-90 minutes or so.

On a side note, there is a quote I once heard and will probably not do it justice, maybe someone here can help:

Have a strong opening, a strong closing...and place them as close as possible to each other.

Living Illusions
Ridgeway & Johnson Entertainment Inc

Kevin Ridgeway &
Kristen Johnson aka Lady Houdini
The World's Premier Female Escape Artist
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Tucson, AZ
1903 Posts

Profile of chmara
Theaters where "you" are the only show -- Minimum 75 minutes, plus intermission for BOH sales.

Sponsored Charity Show with no sales ability in intermission - 60 minutes.

Dinner Show after awards, 45 minutes.

Dinner Show during event, 30 Minutes.

Just a rough idea.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ

C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
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West Coast
3496 Posts

Profile of SpellbinderEntertainment
For full Theatre shows, we're doing 75-80 minutes with an intermission
of 10-15 making for a 90 minute evening.

You don't want to over-saturate your audience,
but you want them feeling comfortable with their dollar/time ratio.

This is only for our Theatre setting.
Client shows generally max out at 45-50 minutes,
the average being an after banquet show of 25-35 minutes.

Just remember, generally 2 hours would be a long time to sit and watch one person perform.

Frank Simpson
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SW Montana
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A very, very important consideration is to make sure that everything in your "X minute show" is genuinely entertaining. Filler added just to make the show last a certain length does no one any favors. The structure of a show with its highs and lows will pace the evening in a satisfactory way (assuming that it is structured well).

I've seen 90 minute shows that were completely satisfying and 120 minute shows that I could not wait to end. The last few times I saw Copperfield's show it was about 70-75 minutes, and they felt interminable because his demeanor was that of a person who could not wait to get the show over with.

I really don't think that anyone can accurately answer the question in regard to anyone other than himself, based on the material and the needs of the audience.
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Branson, MO
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Profile of TaylorReed
In my show, we do a 45min first set.
Then, we take a 15 min Intermission with sales on SR in a display booth...
Second half is 30 min......
A total of 90min with One magician, 4 girl dancers and two standard poodles...
Lots of highs and lows.

PS: Magicians are always talking about BOH sales, and I would be one to believe of front of the house sales or front of the stage.... Most shows in Branson sell the Merch in front of the stage on SR and SL in built-in cabinets or portable ones....
This works really well......... The break really helps you sell merch, and people love to come to the foot of the stage and meet my dancers who sell the goods...

See: The Magic and Comedy of Taylor Reed, Live in Branson, Mo
Sam Sandler
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Well, Taylor stole my thunder, but makes a great point. By the way, I saw your show, Taylor, about a year ago- it was fun.

SALES - that is the only reason I have an intermission in my show, and a costume change for me.

We do a 90 minute show with 12 minute intermission. I guess, to be honest, it really runs closer to 95 minutes give or take.

However, for regular clients - fairs, carnivals, schools, etc. - they can range from 40 minutes to 60 minutes, but never longer.

Theatre settings can go longer because this is the one thing that the audience is going out to do - see a magic show. At most school family nights and other type events, they usually have stuff either before or after your show.

Regardless of how long you go, as Living Illusions pointed out, have a great open and a great closer, and keep them close to each other- in other words, you better have a show worthy of the time you are on stage.

Good luck,

sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
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