Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater to magically appear on Aug. 18.
Marty Martin spreads out a deck of cards, and I select one from near the middle. He tells me to place it back in the deck, and then tuck the deck back in its box. We hold out our fingers and touch for just a second, and, without reopening the box, he knows I pulled the 9 of clubs.
Between Martin and his partner Danny Archer, the two have 60 years of experience in the magical arts. The two are combining forces to open Magical Arts Center at 2840 Pine Road in Huntingdon Valley.
“We’re giving people a new entertainment option they didn’t know existed,” Martin said. “Instead of seeing a movie or a concert Saturday night, you can see a magic show.”
The first show will take place Aug. 18. The magical center will include two theaters, a magic shop and a school where aspiring magicians can learn from professionals.
Magic shows will be hosted in a 60-seat European-style theater with staggered seats that give every audience member a perfect line of sight to the performer. During his tours over the world performing magic, Archer said it is the best possible theater arrangement for sleight-of-hand magic.
“It’s the only theater like it I’ve seen in this country,” he said. “And I’ve been in a lot of theaters.”
The theater will focus on sleight-of-hand magic, which includes deception with small objects and cards and mind reading, like the trick Martin performed for me.
The center will also be home to the Little Theater, a more traditionally designed theater that will host shows as well as corporate events.
Upcoming shows include headliners Will Fern & Doc Swan, Chris Capehart and Peter Samelson. Just like a comedy club or concert, shows may include a variety of performers leading up to the headliner.
Magic is in its golden age, according to Martin. Thanks to shows like Penn & Teller: Fool Us and America’s Got Talent, magicians are more integrated into mainstream audiences than ever before. They hope the center will help further expose audiences to magic.
Martin and Archer’s passion for magic is clear. Originally from South Philadelphia, Martin has been a magic addict since age 11, and started working in a magic shop at 14. His lengthy career saw him performing in a plethora of venues, including nightclubs and fashion shows, and being a co-owner of Philadelphia Magic Company.
Archer’s story is a little different. He didn’t fully embrace magic until later in life due to a bad encounter at a magic shop when he was young.
“The guy who owned the magic shop was so mean, I didn’t go back,” he said.
He left Northeast Philadelphia, where he grew up, to move to Colorado, but realized he wasn’t having fun with his career there. He decided to pursue magic full time, and the second time was the charm. His career in magic has taken him to 35 different countries around the world.
Archer said he will never replicate his introductory experience with magic in the school.
“We will be the opposite. We want to encourage people to do magic,” he said.
For both magicians, this is the best job in the world. Martin said for a magician, having their own venue is the ultimate goal — it means the audience comes to them.
“When is the last time you walked into your office and people applauded for you?” Martin said. “When we walk out on stage, that first applause is so amazing.”
When Martin guessed my card correctly, he was more excited for my reaction than to figure out if he was right or not.
“Magic happens here,” Archer said, tapping his head. “What we do as magicians will give you a life experience no other art will.” ••
Visit MagicalArtsCenter.com to learn more, and SmokeAndMirrorsTheater.com to view upcoming shows.