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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » We double dare you! » » Openers and Closers (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Kevini
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Hello everyone. I have a beginner performance question. I know and can work my tricks well, but I have little experience in creating a full show.
I see the terms opener and closer a great deal, but have yet to see anything defining what makes an opener an opener and a closer a closer.
Can anyone enlighten me?
Thank you, Everyone.
jimgerrish
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It's like a fireworks show. There is a spark - a flash - something burning shoots up into the sky, and then there is a burst of light and noise and splendor exploding in the sky. The lighting of the rocket gives a flash of light and then the rocket takes off - that's the opener of a magic show. The big explosion up in the air, that's the closer.

I could describe it in terms of the tricks you do, but I don't know what tricks you do. What trick gets interest and causes people to stop and watch you? That's a good opener. What trick makes people show their surprise and enthusiasm? That's probably a good closer.
Kevini
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Thank you, JimGerrish. I can relate to your first response, but I'm having trouble applying the analogy to a magic show. I'd say my tricks are more parlor like or suitable for a very small number of people in a private setting.

Let me reflect upon your fireworks analogy. First, there are a couple of blasts in the sky that give the watchers a taste of what's to come--to inform them that the show is starting. Then for a period of time, several blasts light up the sky; each happens nearly at the same time. After a while, the pace picks up and dozens of blasts light up the sky for several minutes--the finally.

My questions are, 1) are the show openers simple tricks with not a lot of showmanship or fluff? 2) What are the tricks like that comprise the majority of the show; the stuff between the "announcement" that the fireworks are about to begin and the grand finally--the end of the show? Is the closer supposed to be the most amazing part of the show?

It seems like the videos that I've used to try to answer my questions do not support the finally being the most amazing part of the show. In fact, in the videos that give examples, the openers and closers do not seem all that different in their amazement factor.

Thanks again for trying to answer my question, JimGerrish.
Kevini
jimgerrish
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No one can give you the answers you are looking for because you don't give us anything to work with, such as what tricks you have accomplished so far that you intend to include in your show. Then we can, perhaps, suggest which should come first, which should be in the middle and maybe in what order, and what you should save for the ending - called a "finale", not a "finally". Also, we don't know what videos you are watching and whether they are good examples for you to be following, or made by inexperienced magicians just to show off.
Wravyn
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Jim is quite right. Though if you want to do some thought provoking reading, I suggest Henning Nelms Magic and Showmanship
https://store.doverpublications.com/0486410870.html
You may find copies for less if you shop around online, but you will find it to be a great investment.
Kevini
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Thank you both, JimGerrish and Wravyn, for your responses. And especially thank you, Jim, for correcting my spelling.
I will grab a copy of "Henning Nelms Magic and Showmanship". I'm always looking for resources to help improve me and my skills.

Perhaps I am asking the wrong question. I do not seem to see much of a difference between the opener, middle, and finale. Since I do not seem to be able to pick up the difference, can someone please explain what makes an opener an opener and what makes a closer a closer?

Thank you, gentlemen.
jimgerrish
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Magic is a performance art. I hope you are performing magic regularly instead of just reading about it and looking for definitions. It is in PERFORMING magic that you will discover which magic THAT YOU PERFORM is best suited to be an opener or a closer. I repeat the questions from my first response to your post: "What trick gets interest and causes people to stop and watch you? That's a good opener. What trick makes people show their surprise and enthusiasm? That's probably a good closer." You answer those questions over time, performing for a live audience. You may never be able to define why one trick makes a better opener than a closer, but the reaction of your audience to your magic performance will tell you the answer. Don't expect the answer to be the same for every performer. One magician's opener may be another magician's closer...or even a dud in the wrong hands.
WitchDocChris
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An opener is what introduces you to the audience, lets them know what they are in for, and gives them some idea of your character and performance style. It should also intrigue (or at least entertain) them enough to want to see the rest of what you have to offer.

The middle of the show is the entertainment and further display of your character and performance style.

The closer wraps it up and gives it a definitive end point. It may or may not be the climax of the show.

There are very few tricks that really have to be one or the other. For instance, I close my current show with a routine that is taught as being an opener. But for me, it works to wrap things up and give a definitive ending to the show.

Remember - Every audience member is asking themselves two questions when they go to your show. "Who is this? Why do I care?" Your opener has to answer those questions, or at least keep them interested enough to want to get the answers later in the show.
Christopher
Witch Doctor

Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
jimgerrish
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When I first started doing stage shows, I built my openers and closers around music. You might find it of interest to listen to the music I used and imagine yourself performing to it.

Overture to Gypsy by Jule Styne

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL2c2RPkKiE

00:00 to 00:25 Light Show on front Curtain
00:25 to 01:50 (Ev'rything's Coming Up Roses) Dove productions
01:50 to 02:40 (You'll Never Get Away From Me) Small Silk Magic
02:40 to 03:03 Transition
03:03 to 03:35 (Funny, Small World Isn't It?) Dove transposition
03:35 to 04:10 (Bouncy Music)
04:10 to 04:42 (Have an Egg Roll, Mr. Goldstone) Large flashy productions
04:42 to 05:03 (Grand Slam Finale) Blendo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zI5PX0wZE0

Charlie Rosen's Broadway Big Band - with live audience reactions to the music alone.

And that was just my opener!

I also use as both opening music and closing music the overtures of Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame), but my favorite closer was the "Overture to Patience". I could divide it up, or use it as is. When used only as a closer, I started about half-way through.

You can listen to the music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2hDYkUfrAU

My closer was from here:

02:56 to 3:44 (Lead in- )
03:44 to 5:09 (Sing Hey to You - slow build - Grand Finale)

These composers were masters of the "Fireworks Approach" to overtures and the rousing finales often got audiences to their feet, just listening to the music and having nothing to do with my magic. Makes one humble.
Kevini
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On Aug 8, 2019, jimgerrish wrote:
Magic is a performance art. I hope you are performing magic regularly instead of just reading about it and looking for definitions. It is in PERFORMING magic that you will discover which magic THAT YOU PERFORM is best suited to be an opener or a closer. I repeat the questions from my first response to your post: "What trick gets interest and causes people to stop and watch you? That's a good opener. What trick makes people show their surprise and enthusiasm? That's probably a good closer." You answer those questions over time, performing for a live audience. You may never be able to define why one trick makes a better opener than a closer, but the reaction of your audience to your magic performance will tell you the answer. Don't expect the answer to be the same for every performer. One magician's opener may be another magician's closer...or even a dud in the wrong hands.


Thank you, jimgerrish. This answer makes a great deal of sense to me now. This truly helps me. I am actually trying to put together my own act, one that I will take to a more public venue than my usual audience of friends or relatives. Thanks again.
Kevini
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On Aug 8, 2019, WitchDocChris wrote:
An opener is what introduces you to the audience, lets them know what they are in for, and gives them some idea of your character and performance style. It should also intrigue (or at least entertain) them enough to want to see the rest of what you have to offer.

The middle of the show is the entertainment and further display of your character and performance style.

The closer wraps it up and gives it a definitive end point. It may or may not be the climax of the show.

There are very few tricks that really have to be one or the other. For instance, I close my current show with a routine that is taught as being an opener. But for me, it works to wrap things up and give a definitive ending to the show.

Remember - Every audience member is asking themselves two questions when they go to your show. "Who is this? Why do I care?" Your opener has to answer those questions, or at least keep them interested enough to want to get the answers later in the show.


Thank you, WitchDocChris. Your response is the technical answer I set out for with my question. Fantastic and very helpful. Thank you.
Kevini
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Quote:
On Aug 8, 2019, jimgerrish wrote:
When I first started doing stage shows, I built my openers and closers around music. You might find it of interest to listen to the music I used and imagine yourself performing to it.

Overture to Gypsy by Jule Styne

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL2c2RPkKiE

00:00 to 00:25 Light Show on front Curtain
00:25 to 01:50 (Ev'rything's Coming Up Roses) Dove productions
01:50 to 02:40 (You'll Never Get Away From Me) Small Silk Magic
02:40 to 03:03 Transition
03:03 to 03:35 (Funny, Small World Isn't It?) Dove transposition
03:35 to 04:10 (Bouncy Music)
04:10 to 04:42 (Have an Egg Roll, Mr. Goldstone) Large flashy productions
04:42 to 05:03 (Grand Slam Finale) Blendo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zI5PX0wZE0

Charlie Rosen's Broadway Big Band - with live audience reactions to the music alone.

And that was just my opener!

I also use as both opening music and closing music the overtures of Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame), but my favorite closer was the "Overture to Patience". I could divide it up, or use it as is. When used only as a closer, I started about half-way through.

You can listen to the music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2hDYkUfrAU

My closer was from here:

02:56 to 3:44 (Lead in- )
03:44 to 5:09 (Sing Hey to You - slow build - Grand Finale)

These composers were masters of the "Fireworks Approach" to overtures and the rousing finales often got audiences to their feet, just listening to the music and having nothing to do with my magic. Makes one humble.


Many thanks, jimgerrish. I will check this out. Music may be a great way to go for me, as I have not yet gotten comfortable with Showmanship/acting. The music may take some of that burden directly off of me. Thank you for contributing to this thread. Perhaps it will become one of those essential threads for other beginners like me.
Kevini
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On Aug 4, 2019, Wravyn wrote:
Jim is quite right. Though if you want to do some thought provoking reading, I suggest Henning Nelms Magic and Showmanship
https://store.doverpublications.com/0486410870.html
You may find copies for less if you shop around online, but you will find it to be a great investment.


Hey, Wravyn. I got the book, "Henning Nelms Magic and Showmanship". I'm really enjoying the book and I think it's going to be quite helpful.
Wravyn
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I am glad you're enjoying it. I myself am rereading it. I gain something new every time I read it.
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