This week, the ‘America’s Got Talent Live’ tour came to Los Angeles: Seven fan-favorite acts from America’s Got Talent (AGT) Season 8 performed live at the Greek Theatre at Griffith Park, Los Feliz. Magician Collins Key, who placed 5th in NBC’s reality series last month, is one of the performers who have been travelling around the US the last couple weeks, joining this year’s winning dance-act Kenichi Ebina, comedian Taylor Williamson, country singer Jimmy Rose, the acrobatic duo The KriStef Brothers, singer and songwriter Cami Bradley and one-hit-wonder Tone The Chiefrocca (“B-double O-T-Y”).
The gig in L.A. was special to Key, as this is his hometown. A few hours before the show last Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, the 17-year-old sat down for a quick chat.
“I’m so excited to be back in L. A.! It’s not easy as a kid to be away from your family for such a long time,” said Key. “The AGT TV shows were taped in New York, and now I’m travelling all over the country with the AGT live tour. I’m just really happy to see my family today and tomorrow. And to be able to perform in my home town, of course.”
Key might not have won AGT’s season 8 – but he definitely won a whole new fan base by being on the show. Incorporating mentalism and social media into his act connected him to a new generation. “I want to keep magic really fresh, hip, young and fun, because I feel like magic hasn’t had that in the past,“ Key explained. “I want to take it away from the illusions and use new media such as Twitter and things like that.“
His new take on magic with tricks like predicting Twitter answers obviously hits the current zeitgeist: Key has now more than 170,000 followers on his Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Channel combined and America voted him into the Top 5 of America's Got Talent Season 8 – the furthest any magician has ever made it on this show.
Key element to connect with his audience – no matter if he performs in front of a dozen people on the street or millions watching him on TV – is being completely real, said Key. “When I am on stage I am not being a character; I am not trying to be someone that I’m not; I’m just being one hundred percent me,“ explained Key. “If I were to go on stage and be this zany, whacked out magician guy, nobody could relate to that,“ he continued. “But I found if you’re just totally real with people, they connect with that.“
Performing on the AGT television shows, where he had to engage several different audiences at the same time, was one of the most challenging situations Key has ever been in. “What I had to do was to connect with the four judges right in front of me, which obviously includes a certain intimacy, and simultaneously entertain 6,000 people in the audience, who I also wanted to include and engage on a certain level. And at the same time I was doing magic for television, so I had to play with the camera in order to reach those 10 million people watching from their homes,” explained Key. “That was very, very difficult. But somehow throughout the process I think a found a good balance to it and made it all work somehow.”
With AGT Live, Key now has the opportunity to perform in a different type of venue every day. “It's just so exciting,“ he said. "Yesterday I got to perform in the huge MGM Grand in Las Vegas, today we are in an outdoor venue, tomorrow it might be a nightclub. Every day it’s something completely different."
The best thing about touring for him is that every audience is totally unique. “I mean, I have had people in the audience who got a bit too wild. Once somebody just left his seat and rushed onto stage, which was pretty crazy. On the other hand, I have had audiences that are super mellow. All these different audiences and venues give me as a young performer such an opportunity to grow and learn more and more about how to perform. I have learnt so many things – things I never knew,“ continued Key.
And when it comes to improving his skills, Key leaves nothing to chance: In order to combat his relative lack of performing experience at the age of 17, he videotapes every show, and afterwards goes over each single moment of his performance again and again – to fully critique it and be able to make adjustments the next time he goes on stage. Therefore, his show constantly evolves and changes from city to city. Key has that drive, that level of professionalism and ambition to actively pursue improvement and ensure he becomes a better performer every day.
So what can fans expect after AGT Live? "There is a lot in the pipeline,“ promised Key. “A lot of opportunities seem to open up for me through AGT, which would otherwise not be as readily available, and I’m very excited and grateful for that.“ Key already has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve as a performer and has been thinking about brandnew show concepts for a long time, he just has not been able to implement all of his ideas yet.
That is now going to change. “I can’t tell exactly what is next, but there is definitely a lot to come. We have a lot of plans. I want to do something different and unique. Something game-changing."
Well, we certainly do not doubt that this talented and determined teenager is on the way of becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of magic. Collins Key is a name to remember. He has that combination of talent, charisma, vision, professionalism, ambition and passion to make it all happen.
Collins Key, Kenichi Ebina, Jimmy Rose, Cami Bradley, The KriStef Brothers, Taylor Williamson and Tone The Chiefrocca are currently touring through the US with the ‘America’s Got Talent Live’ stage tour. Last show will be on November 17, 2013 in Westbury, NY. For tour dates and tickets please click here.
Talents, who would like to audition for season 9 of America’s Got Talent can do so in person at the open casting calls happening now all over the country, or by submitting a video online.
AGT is the only show that allows people of any age and any talent to audition. Click here for more information.
2013-2014 audition cities and dates include:
Miami: Oct. 26&27, 2013 – Miami Beach Convention Center
Atlanta: Nov. 2&3, 2013 – Americas Mart Atlanta
New York: Nov. 16&17, 2013 – Mercedes Benz of Manhattan
Denver: Dec. 7&8, 2013 – Colorado Convention Center
Houston: Jan. 18&19, 2014 – Reliant Center
Indianapolis: Jan. 25&26, 2014 – Venue TBD
Los Angeles: Feb. 8&9, 2014 – Los Angeles Biltmore