Sunday, January 5, 2014

What makes a great Magician's Assistant?

I was recently asked what makes a featured/star magician's assistant, which poses an interesting question. I personally have several thoughts on this matter.

1) First it starts with the magician. The magician has to be willing to part with some of their stardom in order to achieve even more. What I mean is that once the magician finds an assistant worthy of sharing the spotlight, they have to be willing to actually share it. This is truly difficult to do. I personally don't. I use several different dancers and they are all featured in different illusions. But performers like Siegfried & Roy chose to feature Lynetta as their main assistant. In sharing the spotlight with her,  it made all of them stronger and more dynamic in their performances.

2) These successful assistants have a well-developed on stage persona. Doing so gives the audience someone to identify with. There are many examples of this, so here are four that immediately spring to mind:
Jinger Kalen is a likable vixen, (which she is an expert at). For me she is an extremely strong performer who draws people in and then turns them over to Mark. Mark and Jinger know how to play off of each other to make their performance a balancing act of magician and assistant.
& Company of the Great Tomsoni is another perfect example of that balancing act. She is his foil through which most of the comedy revolves. Aside from the fact that she enters and exits with props, she also points out his short comings, which in turn points out hers. The comedy is tightly woven in between the two characters because both of their personas are so well developed.
Amazing Johnathan successfully accomplished this too with his sidekick Psychic Tanya. An assistant he seems saddled with who we see instantly is his counterpoint on stage. We somehow find ourselves laughing as he tortures her throughout the show. There is a well developed love/hate  relationship created between the two of them that we all understand.
Lynetta of Siegfried & Roy was deliciously evil and we understood that evil queen character. She brought to the show a nemesis which elevated her status from just an assistant to a spectacular villain, which was an intricate  part of the show.
Only through the discovery of the characters of who that assistant is in relationship to the magician will a great assistant emerge.
Top: Siegfried & Roy with Lynetta
Left: Mark and Jinger Kalen   Right: Ayala & Tanya

3) THE MAGICIAN IS ALWAYS RIGHT(unless its a comedy act). Tanya, of Joaquin & Tanya does a wonderful job of this. She compliments Ayala on stage setting him apart from a regular person. It's like her eyes never leave him, making him the star and in turn making her his accomplice. She has an inner strength that we cannot ignore making their performance that much stronger than a normal magician-assistant team. Jinger does this too. She shows a fiery, commanding passion and yet yields all to Mark. She is always watching him or the action only looking away at precise moments to create drama or misdirection. Lynette understood this quality as well, that ultimately the magician is always right. Hence we thrilled to see her vanish into a tiger every show that only Roy could tame.

I believe that it is a combination of these skills and unique talents that these special women bring to the magicians and the shows that makes them true stars. These women are necessary to the act. The ability to know who they are, what they offer both to magician and audience and the ability to balance these things, bringing them together to create something... more. The job of a magician's assistant is not easy, yet these women have graced us with some of the most powerful performances we have ever seen in magic, and I applaud them all.

No comments:

Post a Comment