Presto!!

I like magic.  I like dinner.  What could be better than a place that gives you both?  California Magic Theater in Martinez is just a small storefront establishment but it’s a great way to spend an evening.

The walls are covered with a King's ransom in antique show posters.

The walls are covered with a King’s ransom in antique show posters.

Six of us showed up at 7:30 to take our place among the crowd of 50 that comprises a sold out house. People are seated at long tables, and there are roving magicians entertaining at all of them.  It’s one thing to see a trick onstage, something quite more remarkable to see it at your dinner table, right in front of your eyes.

The owner of the club performing at our table before the show.

Gerry Griffin, the owner of the club, performing at our table before the show.

Dinner is served.   There is no menu–you get salad, then an entrée of tri-tip, chicken and rice.  It isn’t the fanciest meal in town, but it’s better than I expected.  There is a ramekin of butter and garlic sauce you can dip your chicken in, which makes it something special.  Squares of cardboard would be good dipped in butter and garlic, and the chicken is much better than cardboard.  This is California, so there is a vegetarian option available when you buy your tickets.

Pretty standard banquet fare, nicely cooked and very enjoyable.

Pretty standard banquet fare, nicely cooked and very enjoyable.

Dessert is chocolate dipped strawberries. Fruit is good for you, so I made sure to eat all of mine.

A tiny stage sits at the front of room, and the owner comes out and tells very bad jokes and does one simple magic trick, then we had the opener.

Budding star Jack Fowler

Budding star Jack Fowler

Hey!! It’s that cute 16 year old kid who was bussing tables just a few minutes ago.  The one with the great hair.  He does magic, and he does it well.

Working with somebody from the crowd.

Working with somebody from the crowd.

 

Jack did about 10 minutes, and his big finish was quite the mindbender.  Modern “magic” seems to be about 80% comedy and 20% tricks, and he carried both off with the polish of a seasoned professional and the boyish earnestness of youth.  I like this kid.

Next up was the main event, Timothy James.  Roughly 30, James seems to be someone making a career out of magic, not a hobby.  He worked the audience during dinner, and was impressive in his close-up magic work.  Onstage, he was smooth and in command.  He did a card trick that amazed me, somehow getting two sets of independently shuffled cards to be in the identical order.

Timothy James doing card magic.

Timothy James doing card magic.

James did some rope tricks that we have all seen before, and flummoxed all of us.  Then he began a long gag that entailed a person from the crowd which was really more comedy than magic–the one trick at the heart of it was pretty simple and obvious, but we were all laughing too hard to care.

It's important to look serious to sell the tricks.

This photo doesn’t add much to the story, I just liked the shadow.

 

And that was the night–we got there at 7:30 and were on the street at about 10, well fed and entertained.  Tickets are $79 each, for dinner and the show complete.  Wine is extra.  I thought it was excellent value for the price, and intend to go back.

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