Theatre Magic Tricks - Help!

Sep 25, 2019
Hello! I have been hired to design props for a theatrical adaptation of Sword in the Stone. We have modernized Merlin a bit to have a David Bowie vibe instead of the classic Merlin with the long beard and robes.
Anyways! I need some help.
Our director wants Merlin's staff to appear out of thin air. I know that there are canes that do this trick that I can purchase, but I want something that is sturdier.
There is also a trick where Merlin makes an umbrella appear out of the air, and his staff to disappear. Then vice versa.
I'm not a magician, which is why I came here, in hopes that someone might have suggestions for me. Or an idea on how to change it to make it work but still have that magic feeling.
Additionally, they want our Merlin to do some simple magic tricks randomly throughout the show. So if there are any beginner tricks I should look into that anyone could suggest, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance!


Elite Member
Aug 5, 2017
WA state USA
It sounds like you need a magic consultant, perhaps they could hire a magician with specific experience to help with this?

I mean you could get some advice here on items to buy or routines for Merlyn to perform and stuff but there is a huge gap there between the information you will get and then moving to towards and the end product you envision. A consultant with a background in stage magic could really help with the transitions between props and making them less of a prop, how to stand, where to do the dirty work, etc. They could also help determining what effects could Merlyn do and so on. Thats where to gold is and where your performers will have to handle the props in a way as they don't scream "prop"!

Anyways if you google 'magic umbrella' or 'silk to umbrella' you will see some potential stuff. I imagine you a can find some products you can buy then change to suit your needs.
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Reactions: Antonio Diavolo
Oct 10, 2019
I don't want to rain on your parade but what you want is not easy and will be expensive.
How much time do you have and how much money are you willing to spend? Tricks take time to learn, and since you say you are not a magician it will take you at least a few months before you can do even a simple trick in a convincing way. What you want is not impossible for an experienced stage-magician, but i am afraid you underestimate magic a bit. It is not something you can learn in a few weeks or months and it is not as simple as buying some tricks and performing them. A workable magic umbrella set starts at a few hundred euro, if you can get one, takes weeks to learn and is definitely not for a beginner. An appearing and disappearing staff set has to be made by a gaff-builder, will cost a lot and you might have to wait a few months before you have it, if he is willing to sell it to you at all. Walk around and doing random tricks is another branch of magic which takes years to learn. To give you an idea: I could do what you want. It would take me three or four months to get the props and work out a way to use them, write a scenario and a choreography, you would have to book me at least six months in advance, pay 25% booking fee and it would cost you €1000-1200 per performance. To teach you how to do it would take at least a year, and you would have to practise 6-8 hours a day, before you could even think about going on stage, leave alone doing random stuff. Lessons are €75-/h, and you would need at least two hours a day. I am sorry, there isn't a quick way to learn this. See it as piano-playing, even if you buy a Steinway and take lessons every day it still takes years of practise before you can play a concert.
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Reactions: JoshL8
Oct 23, 2019
I don't want to rain on your parade but what you want is not easy and will be expensive.
OK that is not entirely true.
There are a bunch of real easy and simple ways to do this, which require very little practice if any at all. However rehearsal is still needed.

Since you already have the robe, and are on a stage just go with that.
Here are some basic ideas I came up with off the top of my head as I typed this reply.

The easiest way to do this is to use lighting, lighting (Turn the lights on off with thunder sound effects, then while the lights are out then choose one of these methods:

1. The person playing Merlin could pull the staff out of a pocket from the robe

2. Have the staff behind another prop they could pull out and use their robe to hide.

3. Having the staff on the ground behind another prop which the performer can grab when they bend down and then hide behind their robe as they stand up.

4. have someone who is hidden behind a prop, hand them the staff. (Use Black on black for full cover)

The basic principle works like this the performer needs to get some conjuring spell going so use that as cover, have them start waving their hands and chanting, turn sideways and have them raise their hands and grab the wand from their robe while their hand is down and then as they raise it turn their body frontwards.

As you can see for basic theater the effect is a lot simpler to pull off than you would think and it looks really nice.
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