Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Now Open Downtown: Magic Done Right

Liberty Magic, the new venue in the Cultural District, is all about perfect presentation.




Photo by Julia Metelsky
 

Even the most casual observer of stage magic — a category which certainly includes me — will tell you that presentation is everything.

A man can perform a card trick on the street, free of all adornment. But sleight of hand and other such skills are far more impressive when they’re given a healthy dose of flair. Liberty Magic, the new parlour-magic venue in the heart of Downtown, absolutely nails the flair.

The space, thoroughly converted from its former life as the original home of Arcade Comedy Theater, is a marvel of a small venue where every detail is honed for magic acts alone. In the front lobby, a mockup of a caged Harry Houdini hangs upside-down in the front window. Trinkets of the mysterious and macabre line shelves that reach to the ceiling; tricks and mystical trinkets are for sale, giving this room the air of a curiosity shop.

The main theater offers four rows of tiered seating pressed up against a wide stage; there’s more than enough room for the magician at hand to move and draw volunteers into the act, but not so much that anyone in the intimate venue will miss a single flick of the wrist or turn of a card. Beyond the curtain, a green room decorated with trappings of early-20th century illusionists welcomes guests for post-show meet-and-greets.

The service, too, is unparalleled; rather than quickly ushering guests to their seats, a fleet of appropriately attired helpers will introduce you to the experience. You’ll likely get more individual attention here than you will at any other Downtown venue.

It’s a remarkable space. And it perfectly primes the audience to be drawn into the show.

The inaugural resident at Liberty Magic, Eric Jones, will appear through March 17. The evening’s host will tell you about Jones’ bona fides — a high-ranking run on “America’s Got Talent,” residencies from coast to coast, successfully stumping Penn & Teller — but Jones’ act more than speaks for itself. The first time you see him conjure a coin or a card from thin air, you’ll realize you’re in the room with one of the absolute best in the world.

Jones’ show, dubbed “Impossible,” is not stuffed with high-tech illusions or unsettling bits of sideshow; the substance of what he’s doing is old-school misdirection. “Impossible” impresses because Jones is uncannily skilled at what he does; you’re pretty sure that there’s a relatively simple explanation for each trick, but his remarkable talent makes it a fool’s errand to try to track what’s going on behind his subtle movements.

I’d recommend the “Skeleton Key VIP” experience (which was provided to Pittsburgh Magazine for review purposes). The premium tickets — regular admission starts at $40, while VIP is $65 — offer a closer seat and a better-than-average chance at being drawn onto the stage as a volunteer; more importantly, those holding the Skeleton Key (yes, there’s an actual key) are invited to the green room after the show.

The backstage area is the coolest space in a venue full of them. While there, audience members have the chance to put questions to the performer; on the night I attended, Jones performed a couple of extra tricks, even explaining how one was completed. (Could I try it myself? Sure, but I’d screw it up.)

Parlour magic may not be everyone’s preferred form of entertainment (though this venue will go a good way toward convincing the skeptical). For those seeking a different sort of night on the town, though, this place is a lovely addition to the Cultural District. There’s something thrilling about the fact that, within a few blocks of Downtown, you can wander around choosing whether to see theater, comedy, classical music, magic and more. I may not always choose magic from that list, but I’m thrilled to have the option.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The Summer Movies in the Park Are Awesome This Year

The City of Pittsburgh's annual Cinema in the Park series returns with another summer of free outdoor movies for all.

7 Storylines Which Will Define and Determine Steelers' Season

An unfamiliar underdog status may help the Steelers get back to the playoffs and beyond.

Can't Miss Concerts in Pittsburgh in June

This month's lineup includes Ariana Grande, Hiss Golden Messenger and a full slate at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

June 2019: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Joe Morrison Takes the Director's Chair at Pittsburgh Filmmakers

After years of uncertainty, the cinemas of Pittsburgh Filmmakers now have a leader with experience building and engaging audiences.

Unlock Special View of Pittsburgh for a Limited Time

Attention all boaters! The locks on the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers will open most summer weekends, allowing you to visit sights you couldn’t get to before.

Get To Liberty Magic to See the Excellent Billy Kidd

The British magician's new show, "Bridging the Gap," brings theatricality and surprising performance to the parlour-magic stage.

The 400-Word Review: The Perfection

Netflix's troubling new thriller stars Allison Williams and Logan Browning.

Undercover: What We're Reading in June

Reviews of “I”: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte and Regular Hauntings: New and Previous Poems by Gerald Costanzo.

What Are You Doing to be Like Mister Rogers on 1-4-3 Day?

Pennsylvania names May 23 as 1-4-3 Day to celebrate its favorite neighbor.

The 400-Word Review: Aladdin

Disney's live-action remake of the '90s hit stars Will Smith as the iconic Genie.

Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

After 41 years in the business, the legendary rock DJ on WDVE has announced his retirement.

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

Follow Brood VIII, which is expected to have three species of periodical cicadas emerging from the soil as early as this month, on the Cicada Safari App.

Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2019

Our annual roundup of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants covers a lot of ground. The list of 30 includes everything from fine dining at a resort hotel to a scrappy, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch counter in Bloomfield.