The Tristan Crist Magic Theatre is a specialist magic theater located in downtown Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Fitted with no more than 51 seats, the theater is also classified as the world’s smallest permanent magic venue. The theater hosts daily performances by the in-house master illusionist, Tristan Crist. Tristan consistently reimagines his family-friendly performances on a monthly basis, adding illusions and tricks to his 60 routines to encourage visitors to return regularly to see the new additions. Each performance includes a mixture of classic tricks, sleight of hand tricks, large-scale illusions, and comedic commentary from Tristan himself.
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Tristan Crist grew up in Milwaukee. By acting in children’s theater productions at the First Stage Milwaukee Children’s Theater and attending the Milwaukee Ballet School, he was able to combine his love of performance with that of magic after being shown a card trick by his grandfather. Tristan went on to create his own theater in the basement of his home as a child, performing for family and friends. Moving on to perform to wider audiences in the Midwest, Tristan paid for his fine arts degree in Theater Technology, Lighting and Technical Design at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point through paid campground performances. After finishing college, he was hired by Circus World in Baraboo, home to the Ringling Bros. Circus. There, he remained with the company for ten years. Tristan went on to develop his own style and aesthetic, and finally opened his own theater in the area in 2015.
The Venue and Performances
The theater itself is fitted with state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment. The seating arrangements feature 51 theater-style seats, tiered to facilitate an unobstructed view for all audience members.
Concessions are sold before the performance by Tristan’s two assistants and include water, soda, candy, and popcorn. The concessions stand is also open and manned by additional staff during the performance. Tristan waits after the show to speak to audience members, and photo opportunities are also available at this time.
Tristan’s routines are audience interactive, with some viewers being invited to the stage to take part in the tricks. With such an intimate space, the first row of seating is positioned only a few feet away from the performance, a fact that Tristan includes in his show. The performances can be described as being on a large scale, yet conducted within a small-scale environment.
As a master illusionist, Tristan challenges his audiences to adapt a “catch me if you can” approach, inviting audience members to study his acts to see if they can identify how his tricks are done. Displaying sleight-of-hand artistry up close by projecting his tricks onto a large screen, Tristan presents his magic using a range of technological equipment. His acts also include the Mona Lisa card trick and the coin trick, with television monitors revealing his movements in greater detail. Further props used are rings, ropes, and boxes.
The main talked-about factors of Tristan’s acts are the large-scale illusions he performs with his assistants. Some performances reveal a full-size motorbike appearing on stage or a real helicopter complete with an assistant in the captain’s seat, both seeming to appear out of thin air.
The acts often include a nod to the history of magic and famous magicians. Such acts include the much-celebrated works of Harry Houdini, featuring the sawing in half of one of his assistants, an assistant cut into eighths, and a lady levitating.
A small gift shop is located inside the theater and features wands and tricks for children as well as smaller items of merchandise. The official Tristan Crist Magic Kit can be bought from the shop. It features tricks selected by Tristan himself, covering the classic magic illusions that he has performed throughout his career.
In terms of accommodation, just under 2 miles from the Tristan Crist Magic Theatre is the 3.5-star Geneva Inn overlooking Lake Geneva, and the 3-star Ridge Hotel. Near the theater is famous Geneva Lake, a popular year-round place of natural beauty featuring seasonal water sports, daily boat tours, and idyllic walking trails.
609 W. Main St, Lake Geneva, WI 53147, Phone: 262-248-0505