The Stars of Broadway's Magic Show The Illusionists Share Advice On What Magicians Should Know About Performing Magic on TV

Last updated December 12th, 2018 by Josh Ferri
The Stars of Broadway's Magic Show The Illusionists Share A…

Photo by Emilio Madrid-Kuser

Broadway is a bit more magical this month thanks to the return engagement of the incredible magic show The Illusionists: Magic Of The Holidays

, headlined by this year's America's Got Talent winner Shin Lim. Joining him are Britain's Got Talent's Darcy Oake & Chloé Crawford, AGT's Colin Cloud, and The Road Trick's Adam Trent.
Illusionists 2018 Broadway Cast
Photo by Joan Marcus

BroadwayBox caught up with The Illusionists to ask each of these TV veterans: What should a magician who one day dreams of being on a TV competition show like AGT or BGT know about transitioning or adapting their live act to television?

Colin Cloud (The Deductionist)

I think if you’re going to do magic for any kind of competition, you really only get one shot to do it well. So, don’t rush into it, these shows will be around a long time. Before you audition two things are crucial: one is that you are an established character—you know who you are and so when you get into these shows they don’t try to shape you or mold you. You go on as a complete package ready to shine on TV. The second thing I think is crucial is that you make sure the material you’re doing is unique to you. Obviously, we all stand on the shoulders of giants and we’re all performing versions of classics, but it’s crucial that what you’re doing on those shows is true to you. You’ll never make it for yourself (and you’re doing yourself a disservice) if you are ripping off someone else.

Shin Lim (The Manipulator)

The best way is to actually film yourself. Then if you’re watching it back and for whatever reason it seems better live than it does on camera, you may want to start tweaking some things. I always record my acts on camera and watch it back. That matters these days. It’s weird because stuff is supposed to look good live, but today it also has to look good on TV. Also, when you go on these competition shows, you have to be ready and be ready in case you get to the next round. There’s six rounds in America’s Got Talent, and it’s the most intense competition show on the planet. I know so many magicians (and performers in general) that go on the show and do their best stuff first, they get hype around them from the audience and the judges, but then they make it through and have nowhere to go the next week.

Chloé Crawford (The Sorceress)

It is very, very different. I’ve been performing onstage since I’m four or five years old so going then onto TV was a challenge. You’re no longer playing to thousands of people, you’re now playing to just one screen, and it is very difficult to adapt. You just have to keep on doing it. Practice on your iPhone. Self-tape! I do it all the time. I set up my laptop or get someone to film for me because there is nothing better than repeating, repeating, repeating, and then watching it back and giving yourself notes to make it better. Or show someone else and get their opinions. We do it all the time between the five of us. We are always going to each other saying, “Can you just watch this little thing I’m doing?”. It’s great that we are all very supportive of each other.

Darcy Oake (The Grand Illusionist)

That’s the thing about magic and where it can get kind of tricky. There’s nothing like seeing magic live and when you watch it live, you can’t debate what you’ve seen, but when you watch it on screen you start thinking, well maybe this person was in on it or maybe it was camera tricks. So, I think it’s important to understand that you can’t necessarily capture the full energy of what you do live onscreen so develop your material knowing that and create something that best utilizes the platform. Think about how it’s going to be cut together so that it doesn’t look like a camera trick. I’m always conscious of how this is going to appear for a viewer at home.

Adam Trent (The Futurist)

When you go to television, you need to cut all the fat off and do just the great moments only. It’s so easy to riff with an audience live but on television five seconds is hundreds of thousands of dollars, but, at the end of the day, a great act is a great act and a great trick is a great trick so things usually translate. Just do the Twitter version of your act.

See these folks live 'The Illusionists' at Broadway's Marquee Theatre through December 30.