Brent Braun to open J&B Magic Shop and Theater
Watch a magician make CJ’s Kirby Adams disappear
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Frankie Steele / Special for CJ
Think of it as a speakeasy for magic.
Much like a good trick, there’s more to this showcase than meets the eye.
When Brent Braun opens J&B Magic Shop and Theater this summer, the front half of his building at 129 E. Spring St. in New Albany will serve as a magic shop. He’ll fill the shelves with marked cards and coin-like tricks that serve as a gateway to real sleight of hand, and he’ll show you how to do them.
The back half? This is where you can see for yourself where these tricks can get you with enough practice.
Beyond a door disguised as a library, he builds a 32-seat theater adorned with chandeliers and elegant curtains. It’s a comfortable and intimate setting where the worst seat in the house will be about four meters from the stage.
The best magic happens between two people, he told me, which is why he keeps the theater small. It’s an interactive and immersive experience, and when you’re in this room, you’ll be part of the show.
It’s all about skill, and he’s spent two decades perfecting his own craft.
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But more than that, he shares it. This is where the theatrical space really comes into play.
He founded consulting agency The Magic Firm in 2014, and through it artists from around the world have come to Kentuckiana to polish their numbers.
Most moviegoers don’t realize that the performers they see in bars or even on the Las Vegas Strip rarely come up with their own tricks. Someone has to create these techniques and that’s usually not the case, Braun told me. Through his company, magicians develop tricks, write scripts for shows, and even create business and marketing plans.
“People ask me all the time, ‘why aren’t you in the spotlight,'” he told me. “And that’s never what it’s about.”
He only asks one question when considering a new job.
“Will it put better magic in the world? And if it does, it’ll make us all soar, we’ll all float because of it.”
He spent eight weeks in Los Angeles working for the Netflix show “Death by Magic.” Richard Jones won “Britain’s Got Talent” with a trick Braun co-created. Some of his clients, like Bryan Saint, who won Season 5 of The CW Network’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” have national recognition, and others are still rookies with lots of potential.
For five years, magicians have been passing through the city and training with Braun’s firm in a small studio he rents a few days a month.
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We’ll see both on the Braun stage. Once the theater opens, the region will get a glimpse of all the magic it has wrought behind closed doors.
He will host a family matinee on Saturday, but in general, the theater’s shows will have an element of sophistication aimed at adults. Think more of the magician who offers himself a royal flush with a deck of cards that you have shuffled rather than pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
It’s a business decision that naturally suits Braun. He and his wife own a house in New Albany, and they met at the magic shop his uncle once owned in Jeffersonville. Before becoming a consultant, he owned a magic shop in the old River Falls Mall in Clarksville, then another on Bardstown Road in Louisville. He even created his own line of instructional DVDs.
There has been strong retail and restaurant growth in New Albany, but there is definitely a need for more entertainment, he told me. He hopes hosting a few magic shows a week at around $30 for adult shows and $12 for family matinees can add to that.
His true passion is to share magic with other people. Even without being in the spotlight, his career has been very good to him. It’s something he fell into in the 1990s while working at Falls City Electric in Jeffersonville. He wandered into the Greater Louisville Magic Emporium on his lunch break, and someone showed him a card trick he just couldn’t get out of his head.
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Braun used to stay up late shuffling cards while his eldest son slept.
He remembers feeling different the day he discovered magic than the day before.
It’s not a glamorous story, he told me, but 20 years later he’s supported a family and traveled the world on a deck of cards.
And really, there is something magical about it.
Contact Maggie Menderski at 502-582-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MaggieMenderski. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/maggiem.