Review Monday Night Magic, March 11, 2002
Well, its been awhile since Ive posted a review of Monday Night Magic, but last nights show featured Jeff Sheridan in the new, uptown theater location, so heres my report.
Since it has been such a long time since posts, and because many Genii Forum members may not have read these, I might mention that I began attending Monday Night Magic when the show opened about 5 years ago - a different magic show every week! - and I wanted to record what was transpiring (I have no connection with the show). Those reviews were the basis of my becoming the video reviewer for Genii. MNM began when Michael Chaut, mourning the loss of the Mostly Magic nightclub and the older Magic Towne House, went into partnership with Jamy Ian Swiss, Peter Samelson and Frank Brents to put on weekly shows, based on the concept begun in London with performances of the same name started by John Lenahan and Anthony Owen. Later, Todd Robbins joined the Producer ranks.
Last evening, March 11, Simon Lovell played host to Jeff Sheridan, Michael Chaut and Jamy Ian Swiss on stage, with Simon, Todd Robbins and Frank Brents doing intermission Close-Up performances.
Simon Lovell was, as always, an ingratiating and very funny MC. He put the audience in the mood for laughing and applauding without stealing the thunder of the other performers, a fine line to walk. Simon also performed his hilarious trademark Sleight of Tongue in which a selection is located while the deck is in Simons mouth, and the assisting spectator was rewarded with an origami white paper rose, folded by Simon to the accompaniment of some very funny patter.
Jeff Sheridan, the Man in Black of New York street magic in the 1970s, and the subject of the book Street Magic, is a poetic genius and a master of card manipulation. Where, oh where, is the book of his card handling which Richard Kaufman was writing about 10 years ago? Jeff performed a silent act, and by this I mean not even music! He began with a sort of Misers Dream, but he produced large (Id guess 3-inch in diameter) mirrors, which began as normal silver color. but soon became red, blue, green and gold colored. In addition to the normal productions, Jeff included a continuous production from beneath a silk which he repeatedly showed empty. This was astonishingly beautiful. He proceeded to his handling of the Sand-Sational Rope routine, then introduced a scissors which somehow linked on the rope, and a sequence with a spectator on stage and a moving knot. From there, Jeff proceeded to his card manipulations, productions, giant fans, and the most enormous split-fan productions Ive ever seen, capped by a wonderful version of the Diminishing Cards. After spending many years performing in Europe, it was a thrill to see Jeff Sheridan back in action in the U.S. and I hope his appearances become more frequent.
Michael Chaut, is a performer who infuses an audience with humor and an upbeat feeling, and he got the crowd (which was full to capacity, by the way) laughing last night. He began with the Color Changing Silks, continued with a book test using a volume chosen from two offered and with the choice of a freely selected word, and followed with the Torn and Restored Bill. Frank Brents joined Michael on stage for their two-man version of the Tommy Tucker Six Card Repeat and Michael concluded with a combination of the Sponge Balls and a Watch Steal into a Lippincott Box.
At intermission, the magic continues at Monday Night Magic with the focus on close-up. Simon Lovell and Frank Brents entertained in various spots in the outer lobby while I stayed in the theater to watch the master of Coney Island Sideshow stunts, Todd Robbins, perform inches away from his audience. With Todd, this can be a dangerous thing. He began by producing a large coil of paper from his mouth and then performed Roy Waltons Card Warp. Todd amazed me by continuing with another card trick, and a good one. A spectator selected a card and Todd said it was the Three of Clubs. Wrong. Undaunted, he had another spectator select a card and again he said it was the Three of Clubs. Wrong again. A third spectator made a selection and again Todd was wrong not the Three of Clubs. Todd said he did not understand it - he spread the deck, which consisted entirely of Threes of Clubs! Enough with the cards, Todd moved into high gear with his Blockhead act - hammering a 5 inch nail up his nose and Everybody Loves Balloons, in which a semi-inflated balloon is shoved up his nose and the other end is pulled out of his mouth. Then the air bubble is squeezed between one end of the balloon and the other. Nice.
Closing the show was headliner Jamy Ian Swiss, the Honest Liar and Genii book reviewer. Jamy got gasps from the audience with his varied act, which began as Jamy named a card just glimpsed by a spectator from a fan held before her eyes. Jamy performed Weighing the Cards, instantly ascertaining how many cards a spectator had cut off and placed in his palm, and he tossed a card in the air and caught it in the deck beneath a freely named number of cards, then a freely named card instantly appeared on the face of the deck.
Calling two spectators to assist him, he had cards selected from different halves of the deck, replaced, and the spectators shuffled their halves after which Jamy placed them in his pockets and, after the selections were named, instantly produced them from the pocketed halves. One of the spectators cut the deck behind his back and placed two cards, unseen, into two pockets. Joining hands, Jamy and the spectators had a moment of communion after which Jamy named one selection, the other spectator named the other card (!) while the spectator who had made the selections determined which card was in which pocket. Well, he guessed the wrong pockets, but otherwise everything was correct. The spectators each peeked cards in a fan, a third spectator in the audience took a card while she held the deck, she replaced it and shuffled the deck, after which Jamy named all three selections.
After explaining tells, the unwitting physical cues which can signal the cards a Poker player holds, a spectator cut off a small packet of cards and arranged them as for a game of Poker, after which Jamy named every card the spectator held, including the original card to which the spectator had cut. Inviting another spectator on stage, Jamy had him deal the cards face up and stop on one, which Jamy had predicted in a variety of ways (a la NEMO 1500) in a routine which had the audience laughing and gasping in amazement. Jamy concluded by having a card selected and returned, then springing the deck in the air and plucking the selection from the shower. He got a rousing ovation.
In future weeks, Monday Night Magic, which is now in the beautiful McGinn/Cazale Theatre located at 2162 Broadway (at W. 76th Street), above the Promenade Theatre, will feature Rocco, Peter Kougasian, Torkova, Puck, Just Alan, Denny Haney (of Denny & Lee fame), David Oliver and Peter Samelson. You can get more information at www.MondayNightMagic.com or by calling the 24 Hour Hotline, (212) 615-6432. Ive got a write-up of the Monday Night Magic move to new quarters, with pictures, scheduled for the April Genii.