Two years ago I took one of my sons to see magician Jason Bishop at the New Vic. My son was selected to come onstage, where Mr. Bishop changed a crumply dollar bill into a crisp fifty dollar bill that my son was allowed to keep. Talk about a moment that he’ll never forget! At intermission, I asked him if he was looking forward to the second half of the show. He replied, “Yeah! I hope I get another fifty!”
Last month my whole family attended a performance of SNAP!, an ensemble of young South Korean illusionists that the New Vic described as, “Mixing dexterous sleight of hand, Chaplin-esque vaudevillian comedy, and ingenious visual effects, SNAP! conjures a marvelous, magical cabaret perfect for the whole family.”
SNAP! was a lot of fun. One of the great things about the show was that it contained no dialogue. Magic without patter presents many challenges for performers, in terms of communicating a story and maintaining clarity. I think it’s easier to do when the structure is vaudeville and/or cabaret, like SNAP!. Even so, care must be taken to make sure every movement is understood and does not confuse the audience. I experience this in my own act, which is also silent. There are times when I sometimes wish I could just say something to clarify what is happening or move the action forward. On the other hand, it is freeing not to have to worry about a spoken script, language barriers, and other potential perils that accompany a spoken word act.
Highlights of SNAP! for me included the cigar-box-juggling and magic act, which was probably the best act using that type of juggling that I’ve seen. The boxes were decorated to look like books, which seems like an obvious choice to make given the shape of the boxes, but I’ve never seen that done before. Like most of the acts in SNAP!, the box juggler also used manipulative magic and technical tricks to wonderful effect.
Although a little slow (my kids were futzing in their seats, and my wife yawned a little), the “Alchemist” act had an amazing effect of an appearance and vanishing of a large metal ring. As the magician slowly turned the ring in his hands, it looked like it was slowly dissolving (with sparks flying) right before your eyes.
I was delighted to see that one of the first magic tricks I ever bought was used extensively in this show. The red Dancing Hank was seamlessly integrated into a larger routine throughout the show where the hank escapes from a bottle and flies around the stage. I still own my Dancing Hank and even used it in my act years ago where it appeared out of a mini Chick Pan and danced around my Suitcase (more about this trick in my book, “A Look Into My Act,” available on this website).
Then there was the routine using a trick found in most magic sets today - the DLight thumb tip. Even though most people in the audience probably knew the basic secret to this effect, it was a beautiful and funny routine, which of course, fools you in the moment.
There were other fantastic bits of business throughout SNAP!, including a clever take on the old hand shadowgraphy entertainment, and some cool projection visuals. The show left the children and adults in the audience cheering, and I left the New Vic once again with a warm feeling inside. I’m so happy my kids get to see professional live entertainment of the caliber that living in New York provides, and at a venue as impressive and venerable as the New Victory Theater.