In June of 2021 I got a call from one of my best friends. He’s a fellow cruise ship magician and in a few weeks he was returning to the ships. Because he’s in an ever changing post/still covid world, the cruise line has told him the following:
He cannot bring spectators on stage.
He cannot go into the audience.
He cannot borrow items from the audience or send items into the audience.
Like many of us, that’s going to eliminate much of his working repertoire, so we brainstormed, made two forty-five minute set lists, and he got through it like a champ.
Of course this challenge isn’t confined to covid-related demands. Big stages with limited audience access can produce the same challenges. There are even situations where the booker has told me, “Due to disability compliance, we can no longer have volunteers from the audience join you onstage.” With that in mind, after you have looked at your current repertoire, take a look at this list of classic effects that can play under these conditions.
Six card repeat
Torn & restored newspaper
Invisible deck, Brainwave, etc.
Silk to egg
Cups and balls
Ropes (cut and restored, professor’s nightmare, walking knot, etc.)
A manip segment (cards, balls, etc.)
Stage monte (Sidewalk shuffle, Monarch Monte, etc.)
Color changing hank
Cigarette paper tear
And REIGN MAN — The KING of All Magic Square Routines.
And while not a magic trick, leaning into crowd work and conversational interaction can be extra helpful in situations where volunteers can’t come onstage and you might need extra time.
Will this be a situation that is common? I hope not, but by giving it a few minutes of thought and preparation beforehand, you’ll be ready when it does happen.