A number of years ago on AllMagic.com Richard Robinson wrote some interesting articles on affordable stage tables. In one article he suggested getting a cube-like fibre musician’s case for about $50. I think it could be an 18-24” cube. You will want all the corners to be reinforced with metal for durability. This case is like a sample case. It consists of two boxes, which are essentially the same in shape. The top is a slightly larger five-sided box that slides completely over the outside of the inner box. For travel, the two are nested together and secured with straps. On stage the idea is to stack one cube on top of the other to your liking. The bottom box should be mouth down or mouth up for stability. The top box could be open-end facing up or open-end facing back. As you can see, a good functional case does not need to be expensive.
OTHER AFFORDABLE OPEN TOP OPTIONS
John Cassidy is a wonderful magician you may have seen opening for the Amazing Jonathan, at the Magic Castle or at one of our national magic conventions. He’s also the hilarious Guinness World Record Animal Balloon Twister. John has done thousands of shows, and he swears by – get this – conga drum cases. These tall (forgettable) tubular containers are light, durable and affordable at $50-200 each. They come in fiberboard or very durable hard plastic, and the plastic ones come with wheels on the bottom. Rivet and glue some “industrial strength” loop Velcro™ to the top edge; add a pleated skirt of fabric and you’re ready to go! Companies that make them include Nomad (fibre only), Latin Percussion (hard plastic) and Humes & Berg (fibre and plastic).
The Latin Percussion “Road Ready Conga Case” shown below is 33” high, 22.5” deep and 22.5” wide. http://www.samash.com/catalog/showitem.asp?ItemID=36061
Consider the “Humes & Berg” Fiber, Round and Enduro models with casters. All H&B conga cases are 31” high. If you’re on an extremely tight budget for an open-top case, look at the affordable “Humes & Berg Vulcanized Fibre Conga Case w/Casters,” which I found online for $84 at http://www.explorersdrums.com
SPECIFIC MODELS MADE FOR MAGICIANS
SUITCASE TABLES: If you don’t have anything, get one. You’ll be happy you did. They solve so many problems at once, and you can use them in multiple venues. My children’s birthday party show is always set up in one. It makes life easy.
Joe Leffler’s “Pro Suitcase Tables” come in two sizes. The smaller measures 18″ wide by 22″ tall by 12″ deep when closed and 18″ wide by 36″ tall by 14″ deep when open. It retails for around $300 and has served me faithfully for ten years and hundreds of shows. The larger $350 case measures 24″ wide by 24″ tall by 12″ deep when closed and 24″ wide by 38″ tall by 14″ deep when open. Each one has two shelves and the lower compartment is good for ditching props. The grey fabric is Velcro™ friendly and resists marking. They weigh a moderate 30 lbs. or so. The smaller case fit quite nicely on the front floor of my Honda Civic hatchback. See the “magic catalog” at www.wearefun.com or your favorite dealer.
Viking Manufacturing Company makes a most elegant Pro Table Case. It is made of ½” plywood and includes two drawers, a large lower compartment with double doors for large props. Add-on accessories include a prop holder, shelf and ditch bag. The exterior has dark grey Velcro™ friendly carpeting and the edges are covered with metal, so it is quite durable. Because of all this, it weighs a hefty 41 lbs. empty. ($425 at www.vikingmagiccompany.com sometimes out of stock, so call.)
Mak Magic has a neat “mini” suitcase table for $200. It is a dark solid color (unlike their very cheesy-looking larger suitcase table). This nice mini weighs only 17 lbs. and is narrow but quite tall: closed it measures 12″ deep x 12″ wide x 28″ tall, opened it is 12″ deep x 12” wide x 39″ tall. The back lower flap with the lock hinges down for better access to the larger compartment. The image below is from www.hocus-pocus.com.
Consummate stage and cabaret performer, David Charvet, sells the unique and very compelling “Ten Second Table” designed by Mark Evans. It is a lightweight but very durable ATA case and not too big. It’s not as forgettable as the other cases mentioned here, but still, people just see a road case on a stand. The lid becomes the base with smooth rolling inset casters while a two-piece center post holds up the main container at a good height. When you order, you need to specify whether you want the opening at the top or the back. Custom sizes can be made for a small fee. I know people who use and swear by this case; it has been tested around the world for years. ($249 http://members.aol.com/dcstudios/tables.html)
BONUS: THE ADVANTUS MULTICART #500 METAL HAND TRUCK
One tool I would never do without is my 8 way multi-cart. When I perform my large show, I may bring as much as my case-table, another case of props, a portable sound system, compact lights, backdrop and an illusion. It is much easier to make one trip from the van. It also looks very professional. The pneumatic wheels make curbs and stairs much easier. The whole thing collapses down to a very small size, but also opens up into a five-foot long dolly that can carry 24 cubic feet and 500 lbs. It forms eight different configurations and the company makes 3 or 4 different models including the R2, R6 and R8 starting at around $90. I keep my show stacked on it and just roll it out the back of my van – very nice. The larger one can be found online for $160. Staples sells them for $216.99. (Hmmm… Max Maven’s show in a manila envelope is sounding tearfully beautiful.)
“MAKING MY CASE”
Thank you for stopping by to consider practical road cases. I prefer to keep it lightweight, stable, rolling, forgettable, customizable inside and out, with optional covers, at just the right height and with an appropriate opening for my show. Cases can be custom designed or prefabricated. Carefully consider the weight; ponder its stage position and be sure to cut the clutter. Options range from fiber music cases to professional magicians cases costing hundreds of dollars. Finally, try not to over-think these things. Experiment with different options and see what works best for you! Next time I would like to break from my usual “tech” and share some thoughts on performing for free or for charity. I’ll see you then… Now get out and perform on the Magic Tech Road!