A wonderful magic show at the Playhouse
Do I have a magic show for you?
Magic is an age-old art form. This happens in all cultures and from the first cave the grandfather pulled a stone from behind his grandson’s ear. I’d say most people love a good magic trick, and in an age of Vegas blockbusters and huge tricks like David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear (okay, that was over a a few years, but still…) the art of close-up magic has lost some of its popularity, but certainly not its WOW factor.
For anyone who attended the Magic Castle and had the pleasure of being amazed by the sleight of hand, I have good news for you. We have a local version for the month of January.
Last Friday I was invited to attend the opening night of David Carlo’s Modern Parlor Magic. During that lively evening, about 60 of my fellow Santa Monica folks made their way to the Santa Monica Playhouse on 4th Street to experience a personal, up-close demonstration of conjuring.
Carlo is a 35 year old resident of Santa Monica and the Westside and he brings a unique combination of theater and magic to our local theater. The show is inspired by salon shows that took place in private homes at the turn of the 20th century. It was in the days before television and the internet that parties were held where a magician and/or musician was hired to perform in front of a small group. Now, 100 years later, we are again considering intimate venues with smaller crowds to lessen the impact of the pandemic and Carlo has created a show that is more focused on audience participation than those big shows in Vegas. .
Historically, magic was performed in the form of small treats. If you’ve ever seen Steven Spill at Magicopolis, it was a great show, but it was more of a carousel of stuff. Most shows don’t often incorporate a story. Carlo’s show is based on a journal entry from an 1895 show that describes an actual party. He chose to use it as the foundation of the story and replicate what happened in 1895 while improving the quality and quantity of magic in the show and incorporating some modern twists.
As I sat in the Santa Monica Playhouse surrounded by old-school paintings on the walls and decor reminiscent of the 1890s with velvet wallpaper as a backdrop, I couldn’t help myself. keep from feeling transported to another time and place. In a nod to a historical style, Carlo has a live musical score conducted by Solitary Science.
The show itself was a collection of exceptionally well-done sleight of hand tricks and a healthy dose of mentalizing. Carlo’s ability to be dramatic and engaging while keeping the show flowing was evident from the start and continued through to the very end of the show. Audience participation is a crucial element in a good magic show to help create that sense of authenticity, and in this “highly interactive show” as Carlo put it, I would estimate that around half of the 60 people were incorporated into the show.
All in all it was a family show and I think kids over 5 or 6 would enjoy it and could keep up with most of the show. There’s a trick that involves a paintball gun in the “catch the ball” trick, but I don’t think it’s too scary for kids if they’re prepared for it by mom and dad.
The show runs the first three weekends of January and tickets can be purchased at www.ModernParlorMagic.com. I recommend this show and if you haven’t been to the Santa Monica Playhouse I think it’s worth the trip just to see what they’ve done with the decorations on this big stage.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles-based divorce and child custody attorney specializing in fathers’ and men’s rights at the Santa Monica law firm Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra