First, the general accepted trade definition of an illusion is a large scale magic effect.
General expectations that come with an illusion performance are a physical illusion prop, scale and production value. The general expectation of an illusion show (that distinguishes it from a stage magic show) is that the show features a number of illusions.
The actual number will also vary from who you ask. For illusionists such as Hans Klok, he probably does three dozen illusions in a show due to the speed he performs at. Others could do as little as 3 illusions in a theatre show and the show may still play big due to their performing style and personality.
There are no rules to the maximum number of illusions in a show as you will ultimately be limited by your own illusion repertoire, stage size, backstage size and availability of crew. However, depending on the duration of the show, you probably need at least 2 illusions for the show to be considered an illusion show. In a 30-minute show, 3 or 4 illusions is a good number.
Hector performing the “Bo Staff” illusion
Most of my shows are between 30min – 75min. I have never done a show with more than 10 illusions in a single show. Here is an indicative guide of what I think will fit most illusionists:
- 30 min Show: 3 – 4 Illusions
- 45 min Show: 4 – 5 illusions
- 60 min Show: 6 – 7 illusions
- 75 min Show: 7 – 8 illusions
The general formula for an illusion show is to alternate between an illusion with a stand-up or silent stage piece. This creates variety in the show and is also a practical structure as it allows the crew to set the stage for each illusion number.
Most illusion shows will open with an illusion or an impressive silent stage magic act that leads to an illusion. Many times, the silent stage act is performed first because of the loads and pre-sets needed.
Most illusion shows also close with an illusion, although it is also common to close with a sentimental stage piece to end on an emotional high, as opposed to a visual spectacle. I have used both types of performances to end an illusion show.
How many illusions do you have in your show?
Adam & Selina performing “Piece by Piece”
I discuss how to produce a modern illusion show in detail in my book “How to Be an Illusionist”, the most comprehensive modern guidebook on the market.
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