Zlwin Chew would wake up in the morning aboard a cruise ship and he would find that the ship has now docked at a new port.
It is the privilege of his job that allows him to do the things he does. He can head out to explore the city, eat sushi, and drink sake before returning into the ship, to find that it’s just in time to set sail once more. Next stop: a faraway land that Zlwin can explore next, alongside his fiancée.
Such is Zlwin’s life. Glamorous, perhaps. Magical, more than likely. After all, that is the nature of his profession, being the Resident Headliner Act on board Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas cruise ship.
The Sailing Malaysian Magician
The Malaysian is no stranger to illusion, having had an impressive portfolio of being a former magician at institutions such as the Palace of the Golden Horses, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Manila.
Still, it’s travelling that’s in his blood. He candidly shared with Vulcan Post, “If I am not a magician today, I would be a photographer riding camels in Egypt and climbing the mountains in Peru.”
Perhaps that is why he fits the bill as the magician who got booked to install his show permanently aboard the ship for an indefinite period of time. He not only gets to do what he loves, he gets to do it where he loves, which is anywhere the waves take him.
Zlwin now gets to perform his 45-minute-long illusion show at the ship’s Savoy Theatre to a captive audience of a maximum 1400 people, for twice or sometimes even thrice a week.
“For my 45 minutes show in the cruise ship, I spend 5 hours getting ready from showering to dressing up and pre-setting the props backstage to getting myself into the zone,” Zlwin noted.
Pulling Effort Out Of The Hat
Interestingly, one illusion act which lasts about 3 minutes on stage can take up to 6 months of preparation from ideation to rehearsals to finally installing it in a full show.
Zlwin shared, “I am constantly improving the little details in the show such as when to stop for an applause cue or how to hold my hand in a certain position when I pose. And every 3 months or so, I would challenge myself to change one act in the full show. That way, I keep the shows fresh if guests were to see me again one year later.”
This debunks the myth about most magicians being one-trick ponies who rehash the same tired old shows over and over again.
When he isn’t performing, he thinks about performing and this dedication is what makes him compelling. “I breathe magic,” Zlwin joked. But it really isn’t much of a joke when he speaks in detail about the profession he chose to dedicate all his time into.
On a serious note, the magician relayed, “The biggest misconception is people thinking that magicians are nothing more than low-class tricksters with no education. Magic is a marvelous amalgamation of clever engineering, deceptive psychology, intricate chemistry, elaborate physics, and even advanced mathematics. It takes a lot of scientific knowledge to be able to put on a show worthy of entertainment.”
Solving The Biggest Trick Of All
People seem to deem magic as a fun and easy occupation to pursue. Zlwin begs to differ. One specific act in his shows has his fiancée magically appearing in an empty glass box. They then do a short dance act together before he performs a quick-change. His fiancée’s white dress instantly transforms into a beautiful blue gown, much to the audience’s amusement.
“This act is 2 minutes 23 seconds long, but we practiced 2 hours every day for 60 days before we felt we were ready to add it into the show. However, the work behind the curtain is more fun than tiring. I guess when you really enjoy what you do, anything about the job becomes “easy”,” Zlwin said.
The small-town boy from Klang would never have imagined himself sailing out of Port Klang but his mission is pretty simple. He aims to not just do good magic, but great ones.
His plan for this is to always strive to do better than his last show. “I believe when you focus on being the best at what you do, everything good will follow suit,” the magician noted, and that curtain call statement pretty much sums up everything that he is, and does.