Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has only been stateside for two weeks, but it’s fair to say the play has left quite a mark on America’s theater scene. Not only have legions of critics and fans fallen under its spell, but it is racking up favor from the awards circuit too.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been nominated for ten Tony Awards. It will vie for the coveted Best Play prize, along with Best Leading Actor, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design, Best Direction, and Best Choreography. Kudos to the whole cast and crew!
The Tony Awards are scheduled for Sunday, June 10. The show will be broadcast at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS. With that many nominations, odds are good it will be a magical night for somebody in the Potterverse.
Orson Welles wasn’t just a revolutionary and iconic film director. He also had a long-running interest in magic and deception, even filming a television special on the topic. A new stage show pays tribute to his magical aspirations.
Orson the Magnificent: The Magic of Orson Welles is a one-man show written, directed, and performed by Lars Klores in Fairfax, Virginia. The production combines both theater and magic, such as card tricks and mind reading. Klores takes the stage performing as Welles, and his banter in between tricks is all about the history of famous magicians and his own character.
“Orson Welles was not the most skilled magician, but it is fair to call him one of the greatest magicians,” Klores said in a Q&A session following a recent performance. He clarified that Welles’ magic is in his ability to read and react to an audience, whether in a magic show or a radio play or a feature film.
Orson the Magnificent: The Magic of Orson Welles will be staged at the the Old Town Hall in Fairfax through May 6. Tickets are available here. You can also follow the play on Facebook to get more information about where the show will go next; it has played around the DC Metro area for the past several months.
The world of Harry Potter has already conquered the page, the screen, and the amusement park, so perhaps it fated for the wizarding saga to one day take over the stage as well. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has just opened on Broadway in New York City after a smashing success in London. The first reviews are in, and American muggles have been delighted by the show.
“…when you get a load of the illusions pulled off right before your eyes — mostly with old-fashioned sleight-of-hand and crafty lighting; only occasionally with more elaborate techno-trickery — it’s not hyperbole to call the show sheer magic.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“With every magic trick — a phrase that feels reductive and yet, is precisely accurate for the dozens of casual illusions that populate the stage — the crowd bears witness to something spectacular, something that dares you to challenge your expectations of what’s possible to be done in the theatre.” – Entertainment Weekly
“The Cursed Child is a triumph of epic proportions, not only heaven for Potterheads, but a marvel of stagecraft that will soon be the stuff of legend.” – Rolling Stone
“…what happens includes some of the most eye-boggling illusions you’ll ever witness, without a visible wire or trap door in sight.” – The New York Times
“[Director John] Tiffany spares no indulgence as his lavish production unfolds, giving us acrobatic wand fights, polyjuice transformations, flying Dementors, and a stunt involving water that still has me boggled.” – Vanity Fair
“The show is filled with triumphant theatrics and adventurous action. It’s suspenseful and exciting in ways that plays rarely are. Plus it’s still got the heart, humanity and warmth of a Rowling novel.” – People
Given the hype and popularity of the show, acquiring tickets might take a magic act of its own. The five-hour stage performance is happening at the Lyric Theater in New York City, and tickets will cost you more than a few galleons. Check the official website for more details.
By the pricking of my thumbs, something magic this way comes. Not content to rule the stages of Las Vegas, magician Teller now turns his eyes toward the the Windy City. He is collaborating on a new production of the great tragedy Macbeth at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Teller won’t actually strut or fret upon the stage, but he is bringing his theatrical and magical talents to the adaptation and direction alongside Aaron Posner. Teller’s chops are likely well-known to readers of GeniiOnline, but Posner’s got a solid CV of his own. He’s directed more than 250 productions and worked with Teller on a rendition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest a few years ago.
The duo talks (yes, Teller does in fact speak in this capacity!) about their vision in the video above, and it sounds like they’re toiling and troubling themselves to create an ambitious take on the Bard’s tale. And yes, there will be a lot of magic involved.
Performances of Macbeth will take place at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater from April 25 through June 24. Screw your courage to the sticking place and buy tickets here.
Joshua Jay is trying something different this summer. He’s putting on a brand new, limited-run show in his home town of New York City called Six Impossible Things. It’s an immersive take on close-up magic that’s part illusion, part escape room, part interactive theater show, and all extremely cool. Both the magician and the audience members will move together from one part of the venue to the next, and each of the rooms will feature one of Josh’s original magic creations.
Performances of run from June 1 through July 28 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at The Mist. Each night will have shows at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Only twenty people can attend each show, and because of the unique experience, guests are only admitted to see it once. Tickets cost between $106 and $136. The official website has more information.
To get a sneak peak into what guests can expect, and into the thought process of the brains behind the ambitious project, we asked Josh six questions about Six Impossible Things. He not only gave us some incredible insight into the creative process, but also shared some as-yet unpublished photos of the show. Read on to find out how he’s bringing the impossible to life.
This show is a reaction to my previous work. My career has been about doing magic that is easily accessible. At some point, I began to explore this vision for a magic show based more on experiencing magic than watching it. I saw potential in putting magic in different environments, and making each audience member take risks with me, outside their comfort zone. I heard Bruce Springsteen in an interview say an amazing thing. He said, “As a creative person, you build your box, and then you escape from it.” I have found that to be very true. I built a box as a smiling, happy magician that entertains audiences 8-80. Now it’s my turn to escape from that mold.
Nine years. Three years. Six months. I say nine years because I moved to New York right after my first show, Unreal. And I’ve thought about doing a show in New York every day since then, but just never got around to it. I let a lot of things–exciting things in many cases–get in the way. I say three years because I have been outlining a section of my notebooks called “Six Impossible Things” for three years. And for the last six months, this has been my sole focus; just bringing these many disparate ideas together.
My team or I visited over thirty venues. We were very close to pulling the trigger on a pretty big room to do a kind of huge stage show. But when I toured The Mist, I turned to our producer and said, “This is it. I hope we can afford it.” The space is TINY, so immediately I knew the show would be intimate and unprofitable. But I also knew it was an opportunity to do something really, really special. The space is owned by two really talented, young architects: Jae Lee and Yvonne Chang. And they’ve become active in the creative end of the show. We’ve reimagined one of the rooms entirely, and altered the other rooms to fit the subjects of each experience.
The one I struggle with the most is the lack of applause. I’ve spent my whole career gauging a trick’s worth by the applause and reactions. But when there are twenty people–standing or with things in their hands–the end of these experiences often end in silence. Stunned silence, I hope, but silence. My director, Luke Jermay, keeps encouraging me to let go of this need for audience vindication, and to accept that there are more powerful ways to appreciate the impossible than applause. So I’m trying my best.
It’s fascinating to develop magic without the usual constraints. Imagine putting a show together and saying to yourself–you know what the best angle for this would be? If everyone stood against the wall. So, I can line up everyone against the wall. Or I said to myself at one point, “This trick really only has impact one on one.” And guess what? I was able to design a segment where each participant enters an environment alone, with me, to experience a very special moment of magic. Alone.
Sensory Magic Show.
Coney Island has long played host to magic shows of all kinds, and in January you’ll be able to visit the entertainment destination to check out Bobby Torkova’s charming one-man magic show every Friday night.
The show is called “A Hanky and a T-T-T-Top Hat!”, and it’s an autobiographical tale of Torkova’s life growing up, overcoming a speech impediment, and dreaming of becoming a magician. From the synopsis on Torkova’s website:
An autobiographical solo play that tells of a little boy who stutters, explores his relationship with his father, and dreams of becoming a professional magician. While this is not your traditional magic show, Torkova’s unique and personal approach does feature magic performances to help illustrate the story.
The show is currently running at Sideshows by the Seashore at Coney Island every Friday in January at 8pm. Tickets are $15, and can be purchased online or at the door. The show will also run at the Smoke & Mirrors Theater in Pennsylvania on March 23 and 24. Details for that show can be found at the theater’s website.
For a sampling of the adorably sincere hi-jinx you can expect, check out the brief promotional reel of the show below:
After facing some push-back from the city council in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, the city has finally approved plans to open what is likely the smallest theater in the country.
With a total area of 16ft by 12ft, the venue, appropriately named The Small Space, will host a variety of live performances, including magicians and musicians, as well as karaoke nights and private functions. During the day, it will even act as a community and rehearsal space for local performers.
The room was conceived of by close-up magician Jasper Blakeley, along with business partner and fellow illusionist Bryan Gunton. According to an interview with The Stage, Blakeley wanted to repurpose the space used by his wife’s business after it moved to a larger location.
“I thought it was too good a space to let go,” he told The Stage. “Bryan and I thought it would be great to have as a magicians’ theatre. The more it developed the more we thought it should just be a fully fledged theatre.”
The resistance from the city came in the form of a zoning policy that required areas set up for retail to remain as retail space. But after receiving overwhelming support from the community and local politicians, the council reversed its decision and approved the the theater’s construction.
The theater is nearing completion and is set to open in early January.
Welsh stage play A Regular Little Houdini has been touring the UK for years, but has only been shown stateside a handful of times during the Hollywood and San Diego Fringe Festival in back in 2016. In a couple months, the play will be coming back to the United States, making its New York City debut at 59E59 Theatres in December.
A Regular Little Houdini is a one man play written and performed by Daniel Llewelyn-Williams (EastEnders) and directed by Joshua Richards (Playing Burton), and features magic consulting by Soler Magic and Tom Silburn. It combines a working class tale in the Edwardian era with a variety of tricks and escapes inspired by the magic of the time, and has been hailed by The Stage as a “breathless yarn and a dynamic account of Welsh history.”
From the description on the play’s official website:
A one man play, set in Newport, South Wales at the turn of the last century, is a coming of age story. A lowly dockworker’s son idolises his hero, Harry Houdini, and commits himself to a life of magic, but the harsh reality of working class life in Edwardian Britain gets in the way.
As he trains himself to emulate his hero’s escapology on the industrial detritus, his parents struggle to come to terms with their son’s eccentricity. With a head full of magic, our boy witnesses the most terrifying events of British industrial history and his personal journey collides with the world’s greatest showman himself, changing his life and the future of his community.
How can you follow your dreams in a world where poverty weighs you down like mud? A beautiful play about hope and magic!
The show will run in a limited engagement from December 12 through December 31. Tickets can be purchased from 59E59 Theatres’ official website for $25 ($20 for members).
It’s a good news/bad news situation for magic lovers in Chicago. The bad news is that the Chicago Magic Lounge‘s Andersonville location, originally due to open in December, now won’t be debuting until some time in 2018. The good news is the delay is so the space currently being reworked to house the theater can include a one-story addition that would allow patrons to see the shows from an upper viewing area.
The location on N. Clark Street, which used to be a commercial laundry service, will eventually house a 120-seat cabaret theater with a separate 40-seat speakeasy bar called the 654 Club. The founders hope to have a full week of magic programming in the cabaret.
The Chicago Magic Lounge currently does two shows a week at the Uptown Underground Theater on N. Broadway, but the Clark Street location will be a full-time magic bar. Co-founder Joey Cranford told the Chicago Tribune. “Magic is such a solo art; there is nowhere in town for magicians to gather, unless you want to hang out in a magic shop in the middle of day and drink bad coffee.”
Cranford said he hopes to make the Chicago Magic Lounge a hub for magic in much the same way The Magic Castle is in Los Angeles.
New York’s McKittrick Hotel, home to avant garde theatrical experience Sleep No More, will be hosting At the Illusionist’s Table beginning November 1. Billed as “an intimate magic dinner experience,” At the Illusionist’s Table will be hosted by Scott Silven and includes a three-course dinner specially crafted by the hotel’s Executive Chef Pascal Leseac’h. In between courses, the audience will enjoy “illusion, mentalism, and storytelling,” not to mention whiskey tasting.
Heads up: The McKittrick isn’t your typical hostelry. From their site:
Completed in 1939, The McKittrick Hotel was intended to be New York City’s finest and most decadent luxury hotel of its time. Six weeks before opening, and two days after the outbreak of World War II, the legendary hotel was condemned and left locked, permanently sealed from the public. Until now…
Tickets are $145 each during the week and $175 apiece on weekends. The show will only be running for twelve weeks, so if an evening of fine dining and magic sounds appealing, book your tickets.