Stage Magic Routines for an Illusion Show

Stage Magic Routines for an Illusion Show


If you perform an illusion show, in addition to the illusions, you will require supporting material that consists of several stage or stand-up routines as “fillers” to round out the show.

Most of these type of routines are performed “in one” or in front of the main curtains so that illusions can be set on the main stage.

Most illusionists perform at least one stage magic routine even if they perform an entire show of illusions. In some illusion shows, the entire show may consist of multiple stage routines punctuated with illusions at the start, middle and end.

These fillers are very important and great thought must be put into choosing the right routines and acts to complement your show.

The fillers should be different in nature from each other and serve a specific purpose in the show. Some of these different functions include:

Personality Pieces

These are routines that showcase your personality and get the audience to know & like you. They allow you to establish your performing character, establish the tone of your show and allow the audience to remember you the performer, beyond just your magic & illusions.

There are no rules for what type of routines, effects or props should be used for personality pieces. Every performer is unique so you have to find a routine or effect that works for your personality. Personally, I use the “Multiplying Bottles” as one of my personality pieces.

Jay Matiolli ( presenting Kevin James’ “Bowl-O-Rama” as a stage magic routine that establishes his stage personality.

Audience Participation or Interaction Routines

These routines are a staple in most illusion or magic shows and involve an audience member(s) as a participant on stage or involve you interacting with multiple audience members.

There are literally hundreds of routines that include the participation of a spectator. Again, there are no rules. Perform whatever routine that works for you, your audience and performing environment.

High-Impact Visual Acts

Most illusionists did not start off with a large illusion show but first started out performing a high-impact visual stage act. These acts usually are manipulative, general magic or competition-style acts.

Dove acts, card manipulation acts or any general magic stage act fall into this category.

I personally do not perform a manipulative act but have a stage act that falls under this category. It is an act I call the iFrame or Infinity Frame that allows me to perform a variety of different visual effects in a single act.

You can read about this act here.

The finale of my iFrame Act.

Soft Acts

In contrast to high impact acts, soft acts are just the opposite in tempo, feel and function.

Soft acts are generally routines performed to music that act as a nice interlude between larger illusions or acts. They tend to be visual bubble gum for the audience and gives them a chance to mentally “rest” and just sit back, relax and enjoy the magic.

Examples of such routines are slow manipulation acts, floating effects or artistically performed pieces of magic.

Miguel Gavilán ( performs Losander’s “Floating Table” with a young spectator on stage.

Close-up Magic Projected on Video Screens

A very popular choice of supporting material is to perform close-up magic for a camera with a live video feed that is projected on a video screen(s).

Most illusionists, including myself, did not start off with illusions but started with performing close-up magic. I performed close-up for 5 years commercially and almost full-time before I staged my first illusion show.

As such, most illusionists have some close-up chops and a segment like this allows them to perform their best or favourite routine in the middle of an illusion show.

Due to the intimate nature of the magic, these segments are commonly one of the most memorable in an illusion show (ironically).

Illusionettes or Mini Illusions

An illusionist can also feature illusionettes as filler material between full-sized illusions.

Illusionettes are small illusions or large-scale effects that are usually self-contained and can be performed in front of a main theatre curtain while the stage is being reset for full-sized illusion acts.

Some examples of illusionettes include “The Dagger Head Chest”, “Head/ Arm Chopper” or a small-scale suspension like “The Flying Carpet”

For an in-depth discussion and list of supporting stage routines and acts that will fit an illusion show, check out my book “How to Be An Illusionist”.

One of my favourite stage routines that I have been performing since 1993 is an old classic, “The Miser’s Dream”. Many modern magicians have built their career on this effect including Jeff McBride and Levent.

It is a dependable worker’s routine for me and I include it if I have to perform a longer show, especially, if it is a family audience.

For years, I looked for the perfect coin pail (and I have tried all of them). I was looking for specific qualities in the pail; such as being extremely lightweight but with a loud pleasant sounding ring when coins are dropped in it. The right material, the thickness of the material and how the pail is made all contribute to the qualities of a pail I was looking for.

I am happy to say that I found the perfect coin pail! Follow the link to learn the details and watch a comparison video.