Making magic for kids is one of the greatest challenges for a performer, and that’s just as true when the performers are the same age as their audience. Adam Rodness and Stu Stone of 5’7 Films is the duo behind The Thrillusionists, a video series with three young magicians on CBC Kids. The pair spoke to Kidscreen about the process of creating the program.
“The kids space seemed like a natural place to explore because children love magic and there wasn’t much for this [demographic] other than shows about learning magic,” said Stone.
The Thrillusionists isn’t Stone’s first rodeo: he was also a producer for the Criss Angel series BeLIEve on Spike TV. He brought in Jesse Feinberg from that gig to be a consultant and executive producer for kids’ show.
“On BeLIEve, I was thrown into the deep end as far as magic goes. It was a surreal experience, not only in terms of the actual magic that Criss performs, but also in how the show was shot,” Stone said. “Filming a magic show is not like shooting a traditional reality show or scripted TV show where you go in, get the shot and move on. You have to deal with a lot of variables because you have to get the trick right, you have to fool someone in person and then also try to fool the audience at home. By the time the show wrapped, I felt like I gained a new skill set and wondered what else I could do.”
Read the full interview, including how they found the three cast members and prepped rehearsals, here on Kidscreen.
Watching The Thrillusionists makes me feel like I’m a thousand years old. Why are these literal babies running around performing magic? Why is one of them dressed like an extra from Stranger Things? Is that haircut deliberate? Who is Aja9? Shouldn’t these kids be in school? When did I get so old?
But yeah, it might comes as somewhat of a surprise to you, gentle readers, but I’m not overly fond of children. It’s a testament to the quality of the tricks scattered throughout The Thrillusionists that I managed to sit through an episode of a show clearly aimed at people two decades younger than me. But the tricks are damn good, particularly that one with the tent near the end.
The Toronto-based show began airing in march and features the talents of Brad Bond, Maya Franzoi and Joey Machin. Comedy magician, Chris Mayhew, worked as a magic consultant on the show, and his expertise is reflected in some quality tricks.
Semi-ironic, curmudgeonly griping aside, it’s nice to see big TV channels investing in magic shows. There’s plenty of performers out there who perform for children, but they’re usually trying to draw kids into the current magic scene, rather than trying to bring magic into traditionally kid-friendly spaces. I may find it largely incomprehensible, but I imagine the show is setting off fireworks in the minds of future magic superstars as I speak.
Three talented kids, one big city to explore. That’s the premise of The Thrillusionists, a charming web series from CBC Kids, the children’s portion of the Canadian broadcaster CBC Television. It’s a set of ten episodes, each about five minutes long, featuring three young illusionists performing in unique and unusual situations around Toronto.
In one episode, they do some classic card magic for fellow youngsters in a pizza parlor. In another, they entertain journalists at a CBC newsroom. The three performers are very sweet and are impressively composed doing both their tricks and their on-camera monologues. So if there’s a young person in your life who really likes magic, set them up to watch the whole series on YouTube. CBC Kids recommends The Thrillusionists for ages 6 and up.