“When you start to wonder, you start to think, and there isn’t enough thinking going on.” (Performer/Historian Todd Robbins)
At 24, Monday Night Magic is the city’s longest running Off-Broadway magic show. Except in Nevada and at private events, the art seemed to otherwise fade (though never disappear) from popular culture, then tenuously resurfaced with more theatrical shows. All the while, Monday Night Magic’s flame burned steadily at various Manhattan locations.
The venerable show shut down in March due to the pandemic, reinventing itself as a regularly streamed event in October. Tonight it reopens live fittingly at The Player’s Theater, a carriage house that converted in the 1950s. Atmosphere takes one back in time. The walls are peeling, music is decidedly old school. It’s kind of a latter day vaudeville experience.
People are curious creatures. If we know an experience includes trickery going in the door, we LIKE to be fooled. Show me something that creates wonder, that raises the question “how?” audiences challenge. Give me a taste of the inexplicable on which most of us were weaned (fairy tales). Unsettling belief paradigm is a magician’s aspiration. In a world of CGI and fake news, agreeing to be mislead while entertained is something of a relief.
Tonight’s show is hosted by magician David Corsaro whose bottled enthusiasm could carbonate a cola factory. Amiable and smooth, Corsaro would’ve been a good man to bally outside carnival tents. He draws us in with a warm-up card trick involving a series of random audience member choices leading to an outcome known only to him.
Next is Alexander Boyce (resembling a shy James Dean in a conservative suit). Boyce has a “flash” act with one visual effect following the next – no speaking. A series of live doves, then eggs appear out of nowhere. A handkerchief tossed into the air and a paper plane transform into doves. The practitioner himself looks bemused. There’s something appealingly anachronistic about use of the birds. The act is fluid and visually pleasing.
T.J. Tana follows. This young magician’s turn couldn’t be more different. He’s all mouthy, purposeful failure in the name of laughter. Tana’s audience volunteer is extremely game and somewhat droll in her reactions. When he “hypnotizes” her, the lady giggles behind hands over her eyes. Without looking, umbrella is taken for – an umbrella, a rock for a sponge.
Intermission features Boyce and Michael Patrick doing close-up magic involving cards, rope and rings – one artist in the theater and one in the lobby. Patrick’s Herbert-the-rubber-band with its own mind is quirky and amusing as, unseen, it wraps itself (himself?) around dictated cards. Corsaro shows how a married couple are eerily more connected than they might think.
Asi Wind then appears as tonight’s main event. The magician designates participants by tossing a crumpled piece of paper into the audience, then having whoever caught it toss it further. His is another trick where arbitrary choices lead to an unexpected reveal (which is grand). He suggests some choices may have been subliminally suggested. The artist is wry, quick and smooth, responding to volunteers with humor and skill.
The practitioner’s hands, as proved by folded bills manifesting where they invisibly migrate, are truly quicker than the eye. “People ask whether I can use these techniques in real life.” Poker without cards ends by his discerning a chosen face, number, and suit. A volunteer player finds cards in his T-shirt breast pocket increase in number while Wind stands half way up the theater aisle.
The first person in the audience to reach someone on a cell phone asks that person to select a card. Wind gets the unspoken message. We’re with this artist every step of the way. I find myself grinning broadly at his low key brio. A map burns a path to a city ostensibly unknown to the magician. Rubik Cubes are employed in a fresh manner.
This is a genial, family friendly show (kids not too young) for those who enjoy being stumped;a lighthearted evening that won’t break the bank. We could all use a little more magic in our lives.
David Corsaro has brought his unique personality and magic to the Museum of Natural History, the Armed Forces and their families, and Fortune 500 companies as well as donating his talent for a variety of charitable organizations.
Alexander Boyce has consulted on theater productions, television, and film. Performances have been seen at many NYC institutions. At 28 years old, Boyce regularly travels to Las Vegas to apprentice with masters.
At only 18 years old, T.J. Tana was one of the youngest-ever artists at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. By twenty-three, his work had been seen in over eight countries and three continents. The magician is known for his performances on the Masters of Illusion LIVE tour and his behind-the-scenes work with the touring cast of The Illusionists.
Asi Wind was born and raised in Tel Aviv, where he was voted “Best Magician in Israel.” He’s one of the few performers to constantly perform entirely original material. A committee of his peers recently presented him with the International Merlin Award for “Most Innovative Show” – an award previously given to David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Penn & Teller. He’s fooled the latter on their television show.
Mike Patrick is an award-winning magician known for his off-beat humor, drawing from comic books and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Every routine is laced with references to TV shows, music, and video games. He honed his craft over the last ten years at the famous Ninja restaurant and at private events.
Monday Night Magic
Every Monday at 8 p.m. with different performers
Vaccination proof and masks please
The Players Theater
115 MacDougal Street