I can't remember the last time I saw a professional magic show presented in a proper theater. Perhaps it goes as far back as seeing Doug Henning's Merlin on Broadway when I was a youngster. Or maybe it was Penn & Teller or Ricky Jay. But seeing this magic show brought the double pleasure of experiencing it for myself, as well as through the eyes of my son.
As the New Vic is a theater that presents children's entertainment, I thought Bishop's show might have a story or some sort of narrative through-line. But I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that the show consisted of stage and close-up illusions simply presented one after another, with no thematic connection. Some magicians may scoff at that choice, but I prefer it for my own Suitcase of Wonders show, and I enjoyed seeing Bishop perform that way as well. As magician and host, Bishop more than held it all together with his sly wit and genuine audience rapport.
As we were waiting for the lights to go down, I warned my son that given where we were sitting, there was a possibility he could be chosen as a volunteer. He was mortified at that suggestion, and assured me that he would most definitely not go on stage if asked. After the first several stage illusions, Bishop took a seat at a stool on stage and did some close-up magic as a GoPro camera captured all the action that could be seen on several large screens. He then declared that he needed a child volunteer, perhaps from row D? We were in that row. D13? My son's seat. Five-hundred seats in the New Victory theater and Bishop chose D13.
My son's face froze in horror as the lights swung over to his seat. After making sure he had a dollar bill, Bishop invited him on stage. Looking morose as the magician tried to banter with him a little, my son finally cracked a smile when Bishop visibly changed the dollar bill into a fifty dollar bill right before his eyes. A miracle! But then....Jason Bishop let my son keep the money! He clutched the bill, grinning and staring at it as he walked back to his seat. We were both dumbfounded. This was surely a magic show that my son would never forget.
At intermission, we learned that Bishop gives away a fifty at every performance. I asked my son, "Are you excited about the second half of the show?" He replied," Yeah. Maybe I'll get another fifty bucks!"