America's Only Authentic 1890's Magic-Lantern Shows


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The Magic Lantern is the centerpiece of ourr Traveling Theater
About Our Traveling Theater -- The Nation's only Traveling Magic-Lantern Shows
Fifteen Year's as a Traveling Show -- The American Magic Lantern Theater

 We are a Traveling Theater

The American Magic-Lantern Theater is the only professional traveling theater company of its kind in the country.  We re-create Victorian "Magic-Lantern Shows" -- a popular 1890s combination of projected color images, live drama, live music, hilarious comedy and boisterous audience participation. The shows were "the great grandfather of the cinema" -- what the movies developed from 100+ years ago. Our recreated traveling theater is authentic -- using antique equipment, and the content, music, and dramatic style of the 1890s. During the last 20 years we've given over a thousand performances in 38 states and 6 different countries, entrancing over a million people. To see rave reviews, click Critical Acclaim. To see what preseners think click Presenters Say. To see a live show click Current Schedule. 

A Victorian Magic Lantern Touring Show
 How our Traveling Theater actually Works

In our traveling shows, a magnificent old brass-and-mahogany "magic-lantern" -- the multi-lens forerunner of the movie projector -- rapidly projects the pictures on a full-size movie screen.

Instead of flexible movie film, the lantern uses 3" glass slides -- hand-painted 100 years ago -- to illustrate dramatic stories, beautiful songs and outrageous comedy, all from the Victorian period. The slides are spectacular -- dramatic, detailed, colorful. They change about every 30 seconds, and many of the comic slides actually move -- the first cartoon animation.

What would become the "sound track" of the movies is provided by dramatic narration from a magic-lantern showman. He is a master of voice and accent, often creating as many as 20 different characters in a single show. A professional soprano and accompanist, the second member of the cast, sings the solos, leads the sing-alongs, and provides live musical underscoring for the stories.

An Animated Slide from our Magic Lantern Traveling Show

Audience participation contributes the "special effects" -- some people bang on tambourines and toot horns, and everyone is encouraged to join in chants and sing-alongs. Our cast is very skillful at drawing people in. No one is ever embarrassed; everyone has a great time.


There are ten different seasonal or holiday shows, each in versions that can run from 1/2 hour to 1-1/2 hours long. All the shows are fast-paced and varied -- sometimes boisterous and funny, sometimes tender and moving -- and appeal to adults, seniors, families, and children over six. All traveling shows are available for International Tours to speakers of any language in the world using our very successful Translated Format.  We also offer a special show for the pre-school set.  Click here to see a detailed description of Our Repertoire


The American Magic-Lantern Theater has given over a thousand performances of its traveling shows in theaters and performing arts centers around the world, from Lincoln Center to Singapore -- at venues ranging from 100 to 3,000 seats. Click Here to see comments from presenters.

Our Magic Lantern Touring Show in Large Theater
A Magic Lantern Show in a large Theater.  This picture, taken from the sound booth of the 1000-seat Smith Opera House, shows the set up for a magic lantern traveling show in a large theater.. The projected image is about 25 feet high. To stage right is the pianist/singer at her piano. To stage left is the opening gong. At center in the orchestra pit, is the lantern, showman, and assistant.              hili,8.17ly

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Last Update: 3/4/20 13:23
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