Stay close to home with a magic show on Lake Geneva during the spring break


You’ve probably seen your fair share of kiddie magic shows. You know, the ones where the magician pulls some tissues out of his sleeve and does some card tricks.

Master illusionist Tristan Crist says these are definitely not the types of tricks you’ll see at his family magic show on Lake Geneva.

“The way I’ve always approached magic is that my shows are family-friendly, but instead of tricks specifically aimed at kids, I’ve developed a show that will trick adults while entertaining kids,” said Christ.

Big magic in a small space

Crist opened what he calls “the world’s smallest permanent magical place dedicated to large-scale illusion” just over two years ago. He wanted to branch out after a decade of magic at Circus World in Baraboo.

He chose Lake Geneva as the location for his magic show because he felt the popular tourist destination needed some nighttime activity.

“There are all these people who come to Lake Geneva, and they spend the day on the lake and do all these outdoor activities, but in the evening after dinner, what is there to do?” Christ said.

The Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce thought Crist’s idea of ​​bringing nightlife to the city was great, but he soon discovered that it was going to be difficult to find a building to host the large-scale magic that he used to perform at his 400-seat theater in Baraboo.

Crist’s idea of ​​large-scale Las Vegas-style magic includes illusions such as sawing people in half, levitating offstage, and even making helicopters and motorcycles appear.

“When I started looking around downtown Lake Geneva, all the buildings were quite old and long and narrow,” Crist said. “I couldn’t find a way to build a theater into an existing building that would house 200 seats. I literally couldn’t find a space that would fit what we wanted to do.”

The absence of a large building turned out to be an opportunity.

Crist and his team brainstormed together to figure out how to achieve his full-scale illusions in the small 51-seat theater he eventually bought, including dismantling a helicopter piece by piece to fit it into the building for the grand finale. a spectacle.

“When the helicopter appears on stage,” Crist said, “it’s actually diagonal because it doesn’t fit in otherwise.”

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What he created in his small theater became a niche – incredible magic in an intimate setting. Crist says his viewers love it because it’s like they’re sitting in their living room, like he’s performing these amazing tricks directly on them.

And it helps to blow people’s expectations, especially for families with young children who are used to seeing much smaller stuff.

“People always mention how small the theater is and they walk in thinking the show will be okay, but then they’re blown away by the show,” Crist said.

Las Vegas-style kid-friendly magic

Parents are also pleasantly surprised that the show is great for kids of all ages. Parents might be a little worried about relevance when they hear the show described as “Las Vegas-like,” but Crist says he’s even seen babies in his audience.

“Jokes, humor and entertainment are all appropriate for children,” Crist said. “Plus, the show is 60 minutes long, which is a perfect amount of time for kids to sit and pay attention. Every time I look outside and see the kids in the audience, they’re still sitting there, totally fascinated by the Display.”

Crist is happy with the niche he landed on and plans to keep the intimate nature of his show – even if he looks to future expansion.

“Our ultimate goal is to create the same intimate experience in a larger space to allow more people to watch at once,” Crist said. “We hope to build our own building specifically designed for an intimate, up-close show.”

Based on the feedback from his theater, it definitely looks like Crist has arrived at a successful formula. He laughs: “In our first year, TripAdvisor rated us the best thing to do in Lake Geneva. We even beat the lake!”

If you are going to

Or: Tristan Crist Magic Theatre, 609 W. Main St., Lake Geneva

When: Shows on Saturdays throughout the spring (mainly at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) as well as daily shows during spring break (March 26 to March 30); Check the website for times and tickets.

Brian L. Hartfield