David Pisarra

Have I got a magic show for you!

Magic is an age-old art form. It happens in every culture and has since the first cave grandpa pulled a rock from behind his grandchild’s ear. I’d say most people love a good magic trick, and in a day and age of blockbuster shows in Vegas and huge tricks like David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear (okay that was more than a few years ago, but still…) the art of close up magic has lost some of its popularity, but definitely not its WOW factor.

For anyone who has attended the Magic Castle and had the pleasure of being amazed at sleight of hand wizardry I have good news for you. We have a local version for the month of January.

Last Friday I was invited to attend the opening night of David Carlo’s Modern Parlor Magic. On this brisk evening, about 60 of my fellow Santa Monicans shuffled in to the Santa Monica Playhouse on 4th street to experience an up-close and personal demonstration of prestidigitation.

Carlo is a 35 year resident of Santa Monica and the westside and he is bringing a unique combination of theater and magic to our local playhouse. The show is inspired by the parlor shows that happened in private homes around the turn of the 20th century. It used to be in the time before television, and the Internet that parties would be held where a magician and/or musician would be hired to perform for a small group. Today, 100 years later we’re again looking at intimate venues with smaller crowds to reduce the pandemic’s impact and Carlo has created a show that is more audience participation focused than those big shows in Vegas.

Historically magic has been performed as small tidbits. If you ever saw Steven Spill at Magicopolis it was a great show, but was more of a carousel of tricks. Most shows are not often incorporating a story. Carlo’s show is based on a diary entry from a show of 1895 that describes an actual party. He chose to use this as the foundation of the story and to replicate what happened in 1895 while upping the quality and amount of magic in the show, and incorporating a few modern twists.

As I was seated in the Santa Monica Playhouse surrounded by old school paintings on the walls, and a décor that is reminiscent of the 1890s with velvet wallpaper as the backdrop I couldn’t help but feel as if I was transported to a different time and location. In a nod to a historical style, Carlo does have a live musical score run by Solitary Science.

The show itself was a collection of exceptionally well-done sleight-of-hand deceptions and a good amount of mentalizing. Carlo’s ability to be dramatic and engaging while keeping the flow of the show going was evident from the start and kept up through the very end of the show. Audience participation is a crucial piece in a good magic show to help create that sense of authenticity, and in this “highly highly interactive show” as Carlo put it, I’d estimate about ½ of the 60ish people were incorporated into the show.

Overall this was a family-friendly show and I think kids over 5 or 6 would enjoy it and be able to follow most of the show. There is one trick that involves a paintball gun in the “catch the bullet” trick, but I don’t think it is too scary for children if they’re prepared for it by mom and dad.

The show runs the 1st three weekends in January and tickets can be purchased at www.ModernParlorMagic.com. I recommend this show and if you haven’t been to the Santa Monica Playhouse, I think it’s worth a visit just to see what they’ve done with the decorations of that great stage.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra