What type of performance do you need?
Whether to have strolling close up magic, a parlor act or a stage show depends on the number of guests, what else is part of your program (dinner, cocktails, speeches, awards, DJ, etc.) and the venue (e.g., nightclub, river boat, pub, restaurant trade show hall, or home).
Strolling close up magic involves wandering among the guests, perhaps during cocktail hour before a dinner, on an ocean/ river/lake boat cruise, at a trade show to pull people in, or a wedding reception while guests are waiting for the dinner. Each small group of guests receives a brief (:10) magic performance. This is also ideal for restaurants that want to stand out and give their guests something special to talk about.
A parlor act is best for groups of 10-30 guests. The performance might follow a dinner or other event and works great at a private dinner, holiday party, graduation gathering, family reunion, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. These shows involve lots of audience participation — guests are called up “on stage” and take part in funny routines involving cards, mentalism, etc.
If your audience is bigger than 50 guests, a stage show is appropriate. Like the parlor act, a stage show involves lots of comedic audience participation and interaction. It is a great way to provide entertainment that not only caps the event, but will also help the guests get to know each other if they don’t already, as a number of the guests will be introduced on stage during various effects. Stage show performances usually last from :45 to 1:30, for audiences in the hundreds.
How long of a performance do you need?
For strolling close up magic, about an hour of magic for every 40-50 guests is a good idea. The magic comes to your guests, in small groups of 2-5 people, for short sets of about 10 minutes — and then onto the next group.
For a parlor show in a restaurant private dining room, your home, or back yard poolside, 45 minutes to an hour is an ideal duration.
For a stage act, a minimum of 45 minutes to 1.25 or 1.50 hours is best. No intermission is needed if the show is under an hour and a half.
What else do you need?
For all performances, some helpful information about any special guests, event themes, and the background of your company or group helps to custom fit the performance to your group. For close up and parlor magic, nothing else is needed. For a stage act, a riser or stage is important, as is an appropriate PA system. These are things we can discuss in the planning of the event.