Cyril Takayama is a sharp dresser, but doesn’t really look like a stereotypical magician. The only hint of his career is the deck of cards he toys with while sitting at a restaurant table.
When it comes to pulling off a magic trick “You can never prepare enough,” he says. “There’s no amount of preparation that makes me feel ready. It’s also a team effort. I can’t deliver a show of this calibre without my team.”
As the man on the stage, it’s not just the performance he has to worry about. “I oversee every aspect of the show. The props, sets, music ... everything. I’m very proud of this show because everything was created by me. I put my heart and soul into it, so i really would love everyone to join in.”
A magician with experience in both live shows and TV shows, Takayama says the difference between performing for a live audience and in front of a camera is simple. “A TV show is a bunch of small scenes, maybe two to three minute bits put together to form a story. A live show is a journey; I get to spend two hours interacting with the audience.”
“The best way to describe it is like dominos,” he gestures with the deck of cards. “You set up a line of about ten dominos and they’re down in less than a second. If you spend more and more time making a bigger set, it’s still over in a few seconds. But it’s all about that moment where [the audience] can go ‘wow’.
“A live show is exactly like that. The execution is the fun part, but it’s all about the prep work and set up. [The actual show] is only a fraction of what you’ve done. Once it’s over, I have to pick it up and do it all over again.”
Besides being a star of TV and on stage, Cyril is also an award winner. He most recently won Best Magician in the industry’s The Magic Woods Awards 2007 ceremony. But competing is very different from performing live.
“Magicians would make an act for competitions and make it very high level. These people have the most amazing techniques or these whacked out acts.” he says. “I used to have an act too. But an act is about ten minutes and it’s a piece of show, not a show by itself.”
“A lot of these competition magicians compete to find themselves.” he notes. “They want to place themselves and find their place. That and they want to be accepted by their peers. I did it to be recognised and acknowledged. But now I don’t have a reason to compete because the way I started thinking about magic changed.”
“There is a side of my magic that people don’t see on YouTube. It’s the side that is not just about showing off what I am able to do.” Cyril declares. “It’s about the impact magic has on people’s lives. It’s about what magic means in our day and age. It’s about bringing people together and healing with joy, laughter and entertainment. It’s about love.” he concludes.
“In my show, it’s not just between my and audience. It’s not just the stands and stage. I want to walk though the audience and bring them on stage.” he continues “At a concert, people often shut out everything else and focus on the artist.”
His advice for people who want to get into magic is simple. “Hard work of course.” he says with a laugh. “That’s the secret. But the real secret is really that. The hardest thing in my career, in my life is making everything look easy.”
His parting words are simple yet deep: “Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible or you’re not good enough. If you believe in something, you can make the impossible possible.”
Words that everyone can say, but for a someone who went from living on the streets of Japan to being interviewed in a fancy bistro before a Hong Kong show, he is living proof of the truth of those words.
Takayama will perform his Cyril Magic Up Close & Personal Live in Hong Kong show at Kitec on April 1 and 2.