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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Show Concepts & Themes - Are they common? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MikeJRogers
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Hi everyone,

As you may know I'm heavily researching everything I can about illusion shows. I've got another question that I believe hasn't been discussed all that much. It's regarding show concepts and themes.

How common is it to have a show concept or theme for a large scale illusion show. The two that come to mind are David Copperfields 'jeans and jumper' relaxed/emotional theme and Franz Harary's futuristic theme. Are there any others? Does having a theme such as this add to the show. Do many performers use an ongoing theme? How are the modern illusionists making their shows different from the typical 'cool' magician with funky lights.

I hope this sparks a bit of interest. Maybe some of the professionals could share there opinions?

Hope you can help and thanks for your time,

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers Illusion Design - Australia - http://www.mikerogers.com.au
"Nothings impossible, the impossible just takes longer" - Dan Brown novel
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paraguppie
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The only theme in my show right now is a common color theme in most of my props. I am trying to keep them all in the same colors, or at least colors that go together well. That's it for me.

Keith
Check me out at www.magickeith.com
Chris H
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Hey Mike,

How's things?

I haven't had a great deal of experience with illusions, nor have I seen a lot of illusion work. But I do think that it is important, for a big show at least, to have the common theme running through it.

I love David Copperfield's "I can make dreams come true" style. I think that's how magic should be. It's supposed to fill people with wonder and amazement, and I'm of the same opinion of British mentalist Derren Brown, that card tricks and sponge balls aren't the items that should be used to invoke that kind of wonder and amazement.

At Dracula's, we have a common theme running through the entire show. Previously we've had a circus theme (Carnival of Freaks), a TV theme (Terrorvision) and the latest one is the history of blood (Bloodlust). In my opinion, this makes the audience feel more comfortable as they've always got something to come back to, and there is that common theme that they know the show is gonna revolve around.

That's just my thoughts. I'm sure there is some hint of a theme in all shows. Whether it is completely obvious or not, is up to the individual performer.

Cheers buddy!

-- Topher
Saydean
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Omaha,Nebraska
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Mike,
We have two different themes but they are both similar. The first is our show "Viva (Almost) Las Vegas" which is a parody of everything good and bad you might experience in Las Vegas including magic.

The second is "Lorenzo and Lorraine" where a pair of Mafia gangsters are forced into the Fedral Witness Protection program only to find out there are only two jobs left open...Plumber or Magician!

As Lorenzo says: "There both full of crap but at least the magic guy gets to wear shiny clothes so I'm doing that one".

During the magic show the "Magicians", Lorenzo and Lorraine, take the audience on a world wide tour of magic and the patter is directed to focus on large flags of various nations which represent the birthplace of the paticular illusion being performed.

Of course since Lorenzo is really a Mafia gangster he weaves a tale of former cellmates, hits and other magicians that he has stolen illusions from.

In the end we find out that "The magic's in your heart, not your head".

Compared to other magic shows, we are about 500% more verbal but that's what we do and it works great for us. I think a theme show that goes from point A to point Z and tells a story is vastliy more interesting than a series of box tricks or multicolored props that just sit on stage.
Bill Palmer
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The idea of using a theme, either for a whole act, or for a routine, is a very common one and a very good one. The trick is to pick something that is easily recognizable and different from what other people are doing.

Don't try to be a clone of some other magician. It just won't work.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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roymagic
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Hi,

Bill Palmer has right!

It is very simple to copy another magician with the same illusion, the same sound or music.

A lot of magic stage illusion props are sold in the world. You can put into any illusion your own style and theme and create a big show with a different texture sheet, but all illusions you use with your show must have a link between them.

When you see DC, Lance Burton, Siegfried & Roy or many other great magicians, look how they perform illusions - look how the stage, lighting and other EFX put value the illusion.

The choice of illusions depends upon the theme that you want perform and the concept. You can dance or not, you can have a modern look or not, you can be charming and use your charisma. But more important, don't try to have a big neck, stay yourself, with your quality and default, nobody is perfect.

Creativity, design, concept and stage working are the words that you must put in your spirit and work hard.

I wish you a good success in your forthcoming magic show.

(sorry if I do error of syntax language but in belgium we don't speak fluently english)

Sincerely, I I have helped you in your search.
Magically Yours
Roy S
floridamagic
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lakeland Fl
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Check out Zigmonts site he goes all out to theme a show.
SnakeBabe
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I don't know if this would be considered a theme but when my hubby and I perform together we are constantly picking on each other a la Sonny & Cher style. We are always trying to outdo the other, of course I always win. Often times the budget of the customer does not allow us to bring in the large theatrical sets so we rely on the music to give the audience the feeling we are trying to convey with each illusion. I think using a theme adds emotion to your show/routine. I also think when choosing a theme it's important to match your look and personality.
Tim Ellis
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I have presented several shows for schools, each of which has had a very strong theatrical theme:

1 - Spellbinder, the quest to turn a volunteer into a magician.
2 - Dreamweaver, the kids all wrote out what they'd like to be when they grew up, and the magician made their dreams come true
3 - Pure Magic, it was the history of magic throughout the ages
4 - Magic Unlimited's Best Show Ever, more of a theatre show as it was based on my wife Sue-Anne Webster's 'Haunted Mansion' act. We were both exploring the haunted mansion of an old departed magician, searching for the source of his magic.

When we worked corporate, there is no theme, but we are starting to explore some and I guarantee... add a theme and your show will go down better! It becomes the REASON you are on stage. Most performers come out and do tricks for no reason at all (other than, to entertain) and half the audience is thinking.. "Why am I watching a magician?") When we've done product launches we theme the show around the product and suddenly there is a reason for us to be there and a reason for the audience to watch. We all have a vested interest. When we add a "reason" as to why we have interrupted the dinner of our guests to show them magic, the whole show goes down much more smoothly.

TIM ELLIS
Dennis Michael
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David Copperfield earlier illusion shows protrayed vignettes, little short stories, which gave meaning to the illusions in the show. This appeals to a vast amount of people and I believe helped him advance his career significantly.

At the same time, Doug Henning, appeared in a unique costume of the times and he used the sure-fire classics but with and added twist, he did it better and added a surprise to the end of his effects. (He also created new illusions.)

A Study of Showmanship for Magicians by Fitzkee, focuses on the vignette style and explains why this style is appealing to the majority of audiences if done right.

Eugene Burger takes this one step further and places meaning to that what you do and wants to know why you are doing it with a reasonable and logical justification.

Denny Haney places emphasis on the comedy aspects of the illusions, what would be funny with this illusion, and tweaks it until it is perfected.

None of these illusionists copied anyone else. Yes they've done similar effects but each put their own style and personaity into the effects they do.

Fitzkee states, people want to be amused, not try to figure out how its done. (Solve a puzzle)

Illusions "beckon for resolve", and the better direction is draw them into the humor, the story which they can relate to, and to enjoy the performance, not tax the mind in an attempt to figure out how it is done.
Dennis Michael
Steve Hoffman
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A theme can be great. Of course, there are talented, creative people who come up with exciting, interesting themes -- and then execute them well. And there are less talented, less creative people who come up with hackneyed themes and/or don't execute them well.

So just because you come up with a theme doesn't guarantee your show will be better. If it's a funny theme, you have to make people laugh. If it's a spooky theme, you better really scare people a bit. If it's an inspirational theme, you'd better inspire 'em. If it's educational, hopefully you're actually communicating something they didn't already know before. Etc. etc.

And it takes a lot of time to come up with the RIGHT tricks & effects to fit within a theme. I've seen many magicians attempt somewhat lamely to fit an existing trick into a theme, by simply writing some patter that artifically ties the trick in with the supposed theme.

Another thing about themes -- a theme in a magical act can be PERSONALITY-based (like the husband & wife needling each other cited by SnakeBabe above). ... it need not be a story-telling (or plot-based) theme.

One thing Eugene Burger preaches is to take the audience through a variety of moods and textures within a show. One pitfall in a show that is too rigidly tied to one theme is that the effects aren't varied enough in terms of their emotional impact on the audience. Try to pick a theme that allows you to have big moments, small moments, mirthful moments, serious moments, etc.

Steve Hoffman
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