Adam Trent remembers his very first magic trick. Well, he doesn’t remember the specifics but does know it was for a birthday party. And he certainly knows it went about as well as can be expected considering he was eight-years-old and working for free.
“It was probably horrific, I can only imagine how bad it was,” said Trent. “I was doing card tricks on a beach at a reservoir, and there were windy cards flying everywhere while kids were chasing them.
“I try to block it from my memory.”
Fast-forward more than 20 years later, and after that first magical debacle, Trent has become one of the most well-known and highly regarded magicians around. His talents are making their way through San Jose for a show that recently closed after a special engagement Broadway run.
“The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible” is making its only Northern California stop as part of Broadway San Jose’s latest season, a show that features seven of the world’s best magicians in a show full of stunts, illusions, dancing and magic. The show runs June 9th – 14th at the Center for Performing Arts in downtown San Jose.
Trent is a performer who has come a long way from playing cards full of sand that flopped through the wind. Nowadays, he is known as “The Futurist,” and his act fuses technology illusions, dancing and comedy with classic techniques.
Trent’s presence in the show is a lesson in passion. There was nowhere to go but up after those initial card tricks. After making a debut that was less than stellar, it only fueled his determination to get as good as he could. And he certainly remembers that early turning point, inspired in equal parts by legendary magician David Copperfield and another magical person – his mother.
“After I saw Copperfield, I get a book on magic and started practicing from it,” said Trent. “The first time I got a book and learned a card trick, I fooled my mom. She had this reaction of ‘Oh, how did you do that?’ I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is great, I am good at something for once.’ So I would do little tricks and get reactions from people.
“I would do a trick for a kid, and then run back and practice even more. Whether the response was positive or negative, it was always an addicting response. The reaction on my end was to learn more and more and get better and better at it.”
For Trent, a set of cards and audience was all he needed. He had the cards; he just needed to find the audience.
And he found them in places like the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado, a magic competition in New York City, and the most educational classroom he ever had – as a street magician at Santa Monica Pier.
“I refer to that time as the best and worst experience of my life,” said Trent. “But at the same time, I learned the most invaluable things I’ve ever learned, and it really made me the performer I am today.”
What made street performing so bad? Trent wastes no time in rattling off the reasons.
“It’s everything. You are performing for people who don’t want to be performed for, and there’s no worse combo than that,” said Trent. “You are sun burnt, there are bums and crappy teenagers heckling you, people steal your stuff, and someone starts drumming in the middle of your show.”
Still, despite the long list of reasons as to why street performing is about as appealing as a Novocain-free root canal, it wasn’t nearly enough to deter Trent.
“It’s either that or getting a real job,” said Trent. “The worst day possible of performing was still better than the best day in an office. No matter how bad it was, it was still better than the alternative for me.”
There was no moment specifically that changed everything for him, just a series of good breaks. However, from those, there were two that stand out. The first was landing a gig on a cruise ship that lasted several years.
The second was a guest appearance on the Disney Channel show “Shake it Up.” Both opportunities gave millions of audiences a chance to see his special brand of illusions.
Trent loves what he does and does what he loves. Along with the Illusionists, he also travels all over the country doing solo shows. His life and career are in a great place as of now, and even though there are some aspects of his career he can do without, it’s all good.
“The toughest part is the extended periods of time away from home, which makes it hard to maintain a personal life and constantly living out of a suitcase, which is a necessary thing,” said Trent.
“But once I get on stage, the necessary part is all worth it.”
ADAM TRENT AND THE ILLUSIONISTS ONLINE
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
Broadway San Jose presents “The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible”
Conceived by Simon Painter
Directed by Neil Dorward
Creative director – Jim Millan
Featuring Yu Ho-Jin, Dan Sperry, Jeff Hobson, Andrew Basso, Kevin James, Aaron Crow and Adam Trent
June 9th – 14th
Tickets range from $33 – $83
San Jose Center for Performing Arts
255 Almaden Boulevard San Jose, CA 95113
For more information, call (800) 982-ARTS (2787) or visit the official website