Magician Adam Trent, from Boulder to Broadway and back
IF YOU GO …
What: Adam Trent’s ‘Holiday Magic’
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Saturday, Dec. 28, 4:30 & 7:30 p.m.
How much: $35/child; $50/adult
Tickets: Wheeler box office; aspenshowtix.com
The magician Adam Trent performed his first shows — as a card-flipping, penny-vanishing kid — on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.
Those days among the buskers and street performers in his hometown honed the stage charm and showmanship that have propelled him to become one of the best-known magicians of his generation, performing in the Broadway hit “The Illusionists,” on the TV series “The Road Trick” and making talk show stops at “The Today Show” and “Ellen.”
“I still really use everything I learned on the street,” said Trent, whose five-stop Colorado “Holiday Magic” tour comes to the Wheeler Opera House on Saturday, in a recent phone interview.
He started doing magic on the mall in Boulder at age 9 or 10, he recalled, and spent years passing the hat and learning harsh lessons about an audience’s short attention span (“If there’s a slow moment, they’ll just walk away!”), while honing his crowd interaction skills and figuring out how to handle hecklers.
“Once you get good at entertaining a crowd that does not want to be entertained and that didn’t know they were coming to see you perform — if you can make them stop and watch you — then later when people are coming into a theater and sitting down and facing you, everything is easy,” he explained.
Trent performed in the original “The Illusionists” on Broadway and in three of the show’s seasonal runs between 2014 and 2018. The hit show, matching Trent with other young and innovative magicians, was the first time magic had been back on Broadway in 25 years, since David Copperfield’s reign.
There, he perfected and popularized many of the illusions he’s bringing to Aspen, including his tricks with LED screens. Along with the lessons of street performing, Trent said he’s crafted his act by stand-up comedians and musicians, from whom he has borrowed many tricks of the trade for his family-friendly show.
The idea for using those LED screens, which he teleports through, came from seeing a pop music concert. A bit where he sticks an audience member’s cellphone in a blender came from seeing a comedian accidentally break a crowd member’s phone.
He’s bringing the musician Evie Claire, of “America’s Got Talent” fame, with a band that will perform live during his act.
“We’ll combine music and magic in a way that hasn’t been done before,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but magic shows aren’t known for having live music.”
And while his days on the mall in Boulder shaped his skills, Trent’s stint on Broadway upped his game, he believes.
“I was seeing audiences that were coming from ‘Lion King’ and ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Wicked’ — they’d come to a magic show with the same level of expectation for quality and production,” he said. “So the bar got raised, for myself and for magic.”