This trope is older than television, as the quick change is a classical piece of theater work, in which the performer changes clothes in an impossible amount of time. A quick change is a magicians trick in which a performer changes clothes within seconds, usually several times in quick succession. For classic performances of Quick Change, the costumes are removed one at a time, making it appear as though the actor was able to change the whole outfit in seconds.
When watching someone performing The Quick Change, you will typically notice the costumes getting smaller and shorter as the duration goes on. The whole body is typically covered with the fabric (or whatever) for very brief moments, which allows the performer to take off one of several different outfits without being seen.
All these techniques make an entire fast-changing performance possible, and enable actors to switch costumes within seconds (or even quicker). Even with a simple edit such as in this clip, one of the key aspects of fast changing is obvious: strategic use of costumes makes quick changes possible. When we look at fast-changing performers such as Dania Kaseeva and David Maas, it is difficult to understand just how someone could completely transform his or her outfit faster than Superman could (and usually without the benefit of a telephone booth).
While we gave (what we thought) a solid rundown on how fast fast-changing artists can switch, the reality is, nobody truly knows how fast-changing artists of today, such as Leah Kyle, are pulling off their acts. Every magician does things differently, and as such, there is not a single, universal method by which a quick-change performer does his or her magic tricks.
Quick-changing is a performance style in which the performer, usually the magician, changes rapidly, often in seconds, from one outfit to the next. If you would like to learn to perform fast-changing magic on your own, or you would like to study the art of quick-changing costumes, then you may wish to consider the book, Quick-Changing The Secrets to Changing Clothes Fast. Performing a high-speed performance punctuated by incredible stunts, magic, illusions, and dancing, our Quick Change shows have never failed to entertain audiences of all ages.
French fast-changing illusionist Lea Kelley — known for getting the golden buzzer on audition performances — performed her signature act in last nights AGT semi-finals, with speculation swirling over which semi-finalist would advance to the final round.
Part of the magic in performing big Broadway-style musicals is having performers go from stage to stage with a costume change at lightning speed. Lea Kyle, performing a stunning fast-changing routine for the songs Swish Swish and Part of Me by Katy Perry, moves so fast into and out of costumes it is invisible to the naked eye. Magician Lea Kyle started off her magic fast-change act wearing a black dress and leggings, but as soon as the music started, somehow, she transformed into a teal minidress in no time. Not only did Ellie and Jiki perform in what seemed to be about a dozen different costumes within minutes, they changed clothes even when covered by just a parasol, or even smoking.
The removed costumes could be easily hidden by black fabric, making it appear as though they had literally changed clothes within seconds. Ellie and Jaki them setting a quick change by picking their clothes at specific places, then they just have to move one time to remove them as quickly as possible. A Stage Hand may assist Quick Change performers in changing certain parts of the garment, and an Actor uses some combination of specialized pockets or torn clothes to make the change fast. You will want to find out prior to your show whether or not it is really possible to see through the clothes before trying a switch.
A single misstep or missing seconds could cause a very bad change should an actor fail to arrive on stage in their proper attire in time. Also, use a stopwatch and watch how long it takes you to complete a change, so that you can be confident that a fast change is going to be done within the allotted time in your actual performance. Depending on how you interpret this, a costume change can take anywhere from six seconds (normal humans receive a turn-per-phase, 12 seconds/segment) down to a half-second for very fast characters (who receive phase-per-segment), or even less than half-a-second for all if you assume that all your actions take place within one-segment, with the rest of your time standing there looking silly. From the audience, transformations seem instantaneous and really magicky, but most productions actually use doubles in the first half of a scene, giving actors plenty of time to switch costumes and take off old-age makeup before they get into a transformed state.
While it seems effortless, transformations cause a severe sense of awe for those who witness them, whether it is on-set or on video. Few will dispute the way transformations are accomplished–the ballets chorus is obviously and clearly helping it to quickly switch costumes–but sweeping musical modulations helped to make it a memorable moment onstage. Beyond impressive stagecraft, a cleverly designed rapid change of costumes underscores story points and makes for an iconic sight on the stage, one that keeps theater fans talking long after a productions final performances.
Clothes matched to your assistants skin tone make it possible to switch between concealing and revealing costumes without slowing the magic of a Quick Change. To make your own quick-change stand, wall the area off with curtains, some wardrobe racks, or behind a big piece of scenery (just be sure that it is not one that is needed for any scenes coming up as you are making changes).