When it comes to magic, seeing is often believing.
So with public health orders still restricting in-person gatherings and most public performances, what’s a magician to do?
Langford-based magician Jason Verners has been working to figure that trick out since COVID-19 put a dent in his show schedule. A student of the craft and a specialist in close-up, or table magic, he has done various livestreams in 2020, but was looking for a way to convey that true sense of amazement he always shoots for.
On Jan. 5 he and his magical hands will do a one-hour show on a platform called Moment House, so-called for the way its cutting-edge, multi-camera, ticketed live performances create a “moment” between the performer and the audience.
“It’s a new experience for us,” says Verners, who is teaming up with Al Smith with Livestream Victoria, who is handling the production side. “It’s not like your normal family reunion on Zoom, you’re not on video where everyone can see everyone. The audience will influence the show as it happens.”
While the technical aspects of this production will take Verners to another level, the show also contains an interactive element that puts audiences into the action on their screen. Each ticket purchased comes with a “mystery envelope” delivered by mail (an ordering deadline applies), to open during the show.
According to Verners, his is the first non-musical event to be approved on Moment House. Giving cred to the platform, he says, is the fact Justin Bieber is using it to stream his New Year’s Eve show in New York.
For this 22-year-old prestidigitator, livestreaming for public audiences outside Zoom works OK, but he admits it loses something in the translation when people can get up and grab a snack mid-show.
“I haven’t worked [in front of a live audience] for a while, so I had a lot of time to think about this,” he says. “We’ve put time into building this production; with the cameras you can see every angle the way it’s supposed to be shown.”
Verners will perform close-up elements one might experience at a four-person card table. That was the original format, but COVID restrictions forced them to switch gears. “By adding these mystery envelopes, and bringing in the camera really tight, it gets really close to that,” he says.
Local audiences have come to know Verners, the former “kid magician,” for his often hilarious and typically down-to-earth shows. But so far tickets to the new show have been purchased from people in Las Vegas, Texas, even St. Catharines, Ont.
“What’s neat about it, I keep saying how this show is going to feel more intimate, but it can also be such a large show depending on how many people are watching online,” he says.
Tickets are $15.43 per household (plus a service fee) available at jasonverners.com.