The “Quick Change” is a magic trick, where the performer changes his clothes in seconds, often multiple times in a row. I’ll explain how this illusion is done and show a few other variants of this trick.
To make a long story short: The secret behind this illusion is pretty simple.
The performer wears different clothes on top of each other and rips them off very fast. The entire body is usually covered by a cloth (or something else) for a very short moment, allowing the actor to remove one of the costumes unseen.
However, if you want to be able to remove your entire clothing in less than a second, you need specific outfits that are designed for such a performance – more to that later.
How the Quick Change trick works
First, let’s have a look at an actual performance of this illusion. There are very many different performances and variations of this trick, but I really liked this one on Britian’s Got Talent.
The act is performed by “Ellie and Jeki”, who have done this routine probably hundreds, if not thousands of times – every single move is perfect.
They start off with the basic method of the Quick Change effect. One of them hides for a brief moment inside a black cloth, and the entire outfit has changed.
The removed costume can easily be hidden inside the black cloth, making it look like they actually switched their clothes within a few seconds.
However, the couple took this entire performance one step further and got really creative with their tricks. Not only did they show like a dozen different outfits in a few minutes, but they also changed their clothes while only being covered by an umbrella or even smoke.
One thing you will notice when paying close attention to this act is a simple principle:
Both of them set the trick up by grabbing their clothing at a specific place, so they only need one move to take it off as fast as possible. As soon as the audience’s view is blocked for a short moment, they simply remove their current clothes and reveal the next costume underneath.
In order to make this work, the couple has to wear multiple layers of clothing before the trick starts. When they enter the stage, you can even spot that their costumes are way too large, allowing them to wear several other outfits below.
Behind the scenes of the Quick Change magic act
To make the illusion perfect, every single detail has to be planned: The performer knows all the costumes and learns how to remove them as fast as possible. An assistant often helps the actor by preparing the clothes and assisting him to remove the current costume.
For the classic performance of this trick, the costumes are removed one by one, making it look like the actor is able to change the entire outfit in seconds.
In reality, he simply takes his current clothing off and reveals the next costume underneath.
Every single piece the actors wear is specifically designed for this trick so it can be taken off as fast as possible. This is why you will see a lot of skirts in quick change performances: they cover the entire body (and all of the other costumes below it), yet they can be taken off very fast.
Skirts are very popular for quick change illusions, since they can be removed very quickly and hide all the clothing underneath perfectly.
When watching someone perform this trick, you will usually notice that the costumes get smaller and shorter over time. It couldn’t be the other way round, since the current outfit has to hide all of the others underneath perfectly.
The special costumes for the Quick Change act
As already mentioned above, every single piece of the outfit is specifically designed so it can be taken off (or on) as fast as possible. Most skirts and other long costumes have a little break in the back or at the waistline, so the actor can rip them off very fast.
Velcros, snaps, and magnets are often used to keep everything in place during the performance.
As soon as the clothing has to be removed, an assistant or the performer himself can simply pull once and the entire costume can be taken off.
Linking the costumes together
Another common practice is linking the costumes together, making it look like the performer wears multiple layers, even though it’s just one piece. For instance, this can be achieved by sewing only the collar of a shirt inside a sweater.
From the outside, it looks like a normal sweater with an entire shirt below, while in reality, it’s one piece of clothing.
All of these techniques make the entire quick change act possible and allows actors to change their costumes in seconds (or even faster).
Putting the clothes back on
In some cases, the actor needs to put a new set of clothing on as fast as possible. Once their current costume is removed with the explained methods above, an assistant usually helps them with their new piece.
Pants and skirts are pooled and put on the floor so that you can see the ground through the leg holes. This allows the actor to access the clothes very fast, and the assistant can pull them up while the actor can focus on the upper part of his body.
Putting on tops and shirts is usually a lot more challenging since most performers struggle with finding the armholes.
While the pants and skirts can be simply pulled up and are good to go, the tops have to be zipped or fixed in some way so they stay in place.
Gathering up the arms of shirts
To make finding the armholes as easy as possible for the actor, the dresser should always gather the arms up and hold them in place.
This way, the assistant can guide the actors hands straight in the armholes and safe him a lot of time.
When all of the clothes are put on, the dresser might have to fix them using zippers, magnets, or Velcros, so they stay in place. With the right clothing and practice, the entire outfit change can happen in seconds.
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