By Michèle De Meglio
Move over Harry Houdini. The Magical Melodions are in town.
The Park Slope-based duo is preparing to host the ninth annual Night of Magic. The show, which sells out every year and attracts both kids and adults, is scheduled for January 29 at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture.
“This has turned into what many people think is one of the best magic shows in the East,” said Richard Steven Cohn, the show’s founder and organizer. “We’re just fortunate that every year we put on a good show. And word of mouth in both the Brooklyn community and the magic community is so favorable that not only do the audiences want to come back and see the show again, but performers want to come back.”
Cohn will host the show with his wife and Magical Melodions partner, Alexandra Baltarzuk (pictured).
“We’re going to mostly do live music at the opening of the show and the intermission, which is a very traditional way to frame a live performance. We’ll do a little magic too,” explained Cohn, who has appeared on the illusion show “Criss Angel Mindfreak.”
This year’s lineup features an all-star roster of internationally acclaimed magicians.
“We have Meir Yedid who is a sleight of hand expert,” Cohn revealed. “Jon Stetson will be back with us, he’s going to MC the show. He’s a brilliant performer from Boston who has been on our Night of Magic several times. We’re really delighted to have him back and so glad that he’s coming to Brooklyn.
“Also on the show is Rich Marotta who is a top comedy magician and who has an Off-Broadway show running right now called ‘Magic and Zone’ at the Bleecker Street Theatre,” Cohn continued. “And we have Chris McDaniel who is a Wild West arts champion. He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as a fancy rope spinner and bullwhip master.”
A ventriloquist will perform — Gary Wilner.
“We’re excited about that because ventriloquism is one of the allied arts of magic and great ventriloquists lived in Brooklyn,” Cohn said.
This year’s Night of Magic show is offering something different than those in years past.
“There is a little bit of a theme in this year’s show,” Cohn explained. “We’re looking back. Some of the music that the Magical Melodions will play was written in Brooklyn. The vibe should be really good.”
Brooklyn, in fact, has a rich magic history.
“Houdini lived here, his brother Hardeen lived here, and members of the Bamberg lived here, who were seven generations of royal Dutch magicians,” Cohn said.
Coney Island’s amusement parks were a big draw for working magicians.
“Henry Roltair worked at Dreamland,” Cohn noted. “You know ‘Pirates of the Caribbean?’ That’s very similar to the illusion rides that he installed in Coney Island.”
Night of Magic is staged as part of the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture’s Good Coffeehouse Music Parlor series and is a fundraiser for the Society. Cohn is passionate about helping to keep the Society thriving.
“The work that the Good Coffeehouse does by bringing live entertainment is such an important part of the cultural fabric and one of the things that makes Brooklyn and Park Slope great,” Cohn said. “We’re very happy that the Good Coffeehouse has embraced Night of Magic so strongly.”
To keep the Night of Magic profits with the Society, the show’s performers are doing their tricks for free.
“They are all donating their time to this event so we can share the money with the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture for their programs,” Cohn said. “Everybody comes on board for this out of love for magic and friendship.”
Next year will mark a decade of sold-out Night of Magic shows at the Good Coffeehouse. Cohn says he’s torn between staying at the cozy venue or possibly bringing the show to a larger space.
“We like doing it at the Good Coffeehouse in that beautiful 100-year-old great room. It’s a wonderful setting right across from Prospect Park,” the magician said. “On the other hand, we’ve had such great interest and we get such a great audience each year that we couldn’t help but think could we do it more often? Could we do more shows? Could we do it in a bigger venue? But we would hate to lose the warmth and the good spirit that the Good Coffeehouse provided for so long. Maybe after 10 years we’ll give thought to it.”
Night of Magic will be held at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture Meeting House at 53 Prospect Park West. The show starts at 8 p.m.Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at Park Slope Copy, 123 Seventh Avenue. Buy tickets early, as seating is limited and the show is expected to sell out. For more information, contact the Good Coffeehouse at 718-768-2972.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
By Michèle De Meglio