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Speakeasy Magick

Theater, Circuses & magic McKittrick Hotel , Chelsea Open run
4 out of 5 stars
Todd Robbins
Photograph: Courtesy Stevan Keane Todd Robbins

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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's Club Car venue, he welcomes a live jazz pianist to set the atmosphere and guest magicians (such as Alex Boyce, Jason Suran, Mark Calabrese, Matthew Holtzclaw, Prakash Puru and Rachel Wax) to perform feats of close-up magic in an intimate setting.

Review by Adam Feldman 

The low-key dazzling Speakeasy Magick has been nestled in the atmospheric McKittrick Hotel for more than a year, and now it has moved up to the Lodge: a small wood-framed room at Gallow Green, which functions as a rooftop bar in the summer. The show’s dark and noisy new digs suit it well. Hosted by Todd Robbins (Play Dead), who specializes in mild carnival-sideshow shocks, Speakeasy Magick is a moveable feast of legerdemain; audience members, seated at seven tables, are visited by a series of performers in turn. Robbins describes this as “magic speed dating.” One might also think of it as tricking: an illusion of intimacy, a satisfying climax, and off they go into the night.

The evening is punctuated with brief performances on a makeshift stage. When I attended, the hearty Matthew Holtzclaw kicked things off with sleight of hand involving cigarettes and booze; later, the delicate-featured Alex Boyce pulled doves from thin air. But it’s the highly skilled close-up magic that really leaves you gasping with wonder. Holtzclaw’s table act comes to fruition with a highly effective variation on the classic cups-and-balls routine; the elegant, Singapore-born Prakash and the dauntingly tattooed Mark Calabrese—a razor of a card sharp—both find clever ways to integrate cell phones into their acts. Each performer has a tight 10-minute act, and most of them are excellent, but that’s the nice thing about the way the show is structured: If one of them happens to fall short of the mark, it hardly matters. Another magician will come soon enough with a different set of wonders.



Venue name: McKittrick Hotel
Address: 530 W 27th St
New York

Cross street: between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
Transport: Subway: C, E to 23rd St; 1 to 28th St
Price: $1,500 for a table of 10 - $150 per person (includes tax, tip and two bottles of champagne)

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