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The best magic shows in New York City

In magic shows across the city, some of the world's best illusionists help make New York a city of wonders

Monday Night Magic
Photograph: Courtesy Mike Wartell Peter Samelson at Monday Night Magic
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We all need a bit of magic in our lives, and New York offers plenty to choose from beyond Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Some of the city's best magic shows are proudly in the old presentational tradition of men in tuxedos with tricks up their sleeves; others are more like Off Broadway shows or immersive theater experiences. When performed well, they welcome you to suspend disbelief in a special zone where skills honed over the course of years meet the element of surprise. Why not allow yourself a few illusions?

Best magic shows in New York

1
Chamber Magic
Photograph: Courtesy Clay Patrick McBride
Theater, Circuses & magic

Chamber Magic

icon-location-pin Lotte New York Palace, Midtown East
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Open run

After more than 15 years at the Waldorf Astoria, Steve Cohen, billed as the Millionaires’ Magician, now conjures his high-class parlor magic in the marble-columned Madison Room at the swank Lotte New York Palace. Audiences must dress to be impressed (cocktail attire is required); tickets start at $100, with an option to pay more for meet-and-greet time and extra tricks with Cohen after the show. But if you've come to see a classic-style magic act, you get what you pay for. Sporting a tuxedo and bright rust hair, the magician delivers routines that he has buffed to a patent-leather gleam: In addition to his signature act—"Think-a-Drink," involving a kettle that pours liquids by request—highlights include a lulu of levitation trick and a card-trick finale that leaves you feeling like, well, a million bucks.

Time Out says
2
Magic After Hours
Photograph: Courtesy Noah Levine
Theater, Circuses & magic

Magic After Hours

icon-location-pin Tannen's Magic, Midtown West
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Open run

Twice a week, after closing time, 20 people crowd into the city’s oldest magic shop, Tannen’s, for a cozy evening of prestidigitation by the young and engaging Noah Levine. The shelves are crammed with quirky devices; there's a file cabinet behind the counter, a mock elephant in the corner and bins of individual trick instructions in plastic covers, like comic books or sheet music. The charm of Levine's show is in how well it fits the environment of this magic-geek chamber of secrets. As he maneuvers cards, eggs, cups and balls with aplomb, he talks shop, larding his patter with tributes to routines like the Stencel Aces and the Vernon Boat Trick—heirlooms of his trade that he gently polishes and displays for our amazement.

Time Out says
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3
Monday Night Magic
Photograph: Courtesy Michael Wartell
Theater, Circuses & magic

Monday Night Magic

icon-location-pin Players Theatre, West Village
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Open run

For 21 years, this proudly old-school series has offered a different lineup of professional magicians every week: opening acts, a headliner and a host, plus two or three close-up magicians to wow the audience at intermission. Housed for the past seven years at the unprepossessing Players Theatre, it is an heir to the vaudeville tradition. Many of the acts incorporate comedic elements, and audience participation is common. (If you have young children, bring them; they make especially adorable assistants.) Shows cost just $37.50 in advance and typically last well over two hours, so you get a lot of value and variety for your magic dollar. In contrast to some fancier magic shows, this one feels like comfort food: an all-you-can eat buffet to which you’re encouraged to return until you’re as stuffed as a hat full of rabbits.

4
The Enigmatist
Photograph: Courtesy the Enigmatist
Theater, Circuses & magic

The Enigmatist

icon-location-pin High Line Hotel, Chelsea
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David Kwong combines his two passions, magic and crossword construction, in an evening of cryptic pleasures at the High Line Hotel. In addition to illusions, the evening includes riddles and puzzles created by Kwong for the occasion. [Not yet reviewed.]

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5
Todd Robbins in Speakeasy Magick
Photograph: Courtesy McKittrick Hotel
Theater, Circuses & magic

Speakeasy Magick

icon-location-pin McKittrick Hotel, Chelsea
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Open run

Todd Robbins (Play Dead) is a sideshow master who combines technical expertise with humor, historical knowledge and good old-fashioned showmanship. In his soirees at the McKittrick, he welcomes guest magicians (such as Matthew Holtzclaw, Jason Suran, Noah Levine and Prakash Puru) to perform feats of close-up magic in an intimate setting.

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