The best magic shows in New York City
Marvel at the tricks and illusions in these family-friendly shows.
Wed May 20 2009
Across Manhattan, mentalists, cardsharps and sleight-of-hand masters are trying to persuade audiences that magic does exist. Time Out Kids reveals which performers are true Wizards of Wow—and which should go back to Hogwarts.
The tenor of this intimate parlor show is upper-crust sophistication —and that's reflected in the setting (a private suite in the Waldorf Towers) and dress code (jacket and tie, or party frock). But don't be put off by the posh pose: Star Steve Cohen is a barrel of fun. The UWS father of two delivers baffling, uncommon tricks to a rapt audience of 50. For his signature routine, called "Think-a-Drink," he effortlessly pours cups of spectators' favorite beverages—anything from burgundy wine to frozen hot chocolate—from a single teakettle. Later, he levitates playing cards and mind-reads intimate details of adult patrons' lives. Although the evening is G-rated and kids are often invited to participate—Cohen manages to include almost all who are in attendance—the show is not recommended for tykes under age ten, especially disruptive, fidgety ones. Little voices calling out "How'd you do that?" would break the spell. Fridays at 7 and 9pm; Saturdays at 2, 7 and 9pm. At the Waldorf Towers (212-209-3370). To reserve tickets, call 866-111-4111. Ages 10 and up. $75--$100.
Monday Night Magic
"Everyone, take out your cell phone and call someone who you think will pick up," demanded magician Asi Wind. And so, ignoring the cardinal rule of theatergoing, every man, woman and child activated their iPhone. Within seconds, a teen reached her mom and asked her to think of a card. Then Wind, following a slew of suspense-building questions, pulled her choice out of a shuffled deck.
The same night, five other magicians entertained, including the comedic MC, a seasoned whiz who made a front-row patron's ring disappear and three close-up illusionists who executed card tricks in the aisles during intermission. Another stage act performed Western rope tricks—the lineup often features one unconventional artist. The presentation is advertised as suitable for kids ages 12 and up, but well-behaved younger children are typically welcome. Shows dubbed as "family nights" by producer Michael Chaut are particularly kid-friendly; call the box office for a schedule. Mondays at 8pm. The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St. (212-615-6432). Ages 12 and up. $37.50-$72.50.
The Chelsea costume shop hosts a 20-minute demonstration of beginner tricks every weekend. Preschoolers will marvel as a staffer pulls streamers from his mouth, flips through a magic coloring book and hands over a wand that falls apart at a child's touch. But adults may find the show dry and perfunctory. A sales pitch—all items used are available for purchase—precedes and concludes the session. And when we attended, a radio blared and an annoying tone rang out every time a customer walked through the door. The show's saving grace? It's free. Sundays at 3pm. At Abracadabra Superstore (212-627-5194). All ages. Free.
The Quantum Eye
Mentalist Sam Eaton doesn't claim to be telepathic. At the start of his one-man show, he warns viewers that they should stay on guard: He's about to manipulate their thoughts through old-fashioned deception and suggestion. In one particularly effective ruse, Eaton asks a guest to envision a picture and then draws exactly what she has dreamed up. His other tricks are more transparent: He "mind-reads" the first words on pages of certain books, and guesses which of four volunteers has removed a specific token from a hat, designating him or her as the secret "murderer." Despite an absence of sleight-of-hand and disappearing acts, the performance we saw held children's attention, especially during Eaton's frequent walks through the aisles to select volunteers. Saturdays at 5pm; at Theatre 80 St. Marks (212-388-0388). Ages 8 and up. $49-$79.