Last year, the New Victory Theater did something a little out of the ordinary. This New York staple of children’s and family theater sidestepped its signature dance, music, and theatrical performances for some good old-fashioned magic by way of master illusionist Jason Bishop. It was such a giant, sold-out hit that the New Vic made Bishop magically reappear this year with his brand-new show, Believe in Magic, for a four-week run.
The one-hour-and-45-minute show is jammed with more than a dozen varied illusions, such as card and coin tricks, disappearing acts, and feats of levitation. When the magic goes small, Bishop uses a well-placed GoPro and a big-screen projector to ensure even the most up-close tricks and clever sleights of hand can be enjoyed by all. And when tricks go big, they really go big. After all, Jim Steinmeyer, Broadway’s famed illusion designer (Disney’s Aladdin and Mary Poppins), worked his own magic by consulting on the full-stage tricks. A notable one: Bishop makes $1 million in cash vanish—and then rain from the ceiling. Later in the show, honest-to-goodness wet, fluffy snow falls, too. Bishop even makes his too-cute Yorkshire terrier, Gizmo, vanish. He also levitates, skewers, and teleports his game assistant, Kim Hess. And of course, she disappears, as well.
Hess, who shows off her halftime-worthy double baton twirling skills during the first part of the show, is not your stereotypical magician’s assistant. Instead of sporting skimpy and shimmery costumes, she wears comfortable, everyday clothes, making the illusions that much more believable. (She could be you!)
There’s more than having a G-rated assistant and an adorable teeny dog onstage that makes Believe in Magic especially family friendly. Bishop has an easy and wry sense of humor as he banters with the kids he calls onstage to participate. (There are several instances when he does so.) He also peppers his act with adult-centered and political quips that sail right over the early-elementary set, but land squarely where they’re supposed to: with mom or dad. (Expect a few Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity references.) But there are plenty of “Gizmo peed” type of jokes to keep the kids giggling, too.
The show also features a smattering of rock and pop songs to accompany many of the tricks. Sure, having “Crush” by the Dave Matthews Band play during a card trick might strike as a little dated, but listening to the gorgeous acoustic version of A-ha’s classic “Take On Me” while Bishop creates, manipulates, and then vaporizes a large, gaseous ball is perfection.
Overall, Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic is an entertaining show filled with humor and head-scratching tricks—and even some humanity. Bishop shares with the young crowd that he was in foster care from age 5 to 18, and that he began his foray into the world of illusion at just 15 years old. It’s heartwarming and a great talking point postshow.
Why You Should Go: Don’t confuse family friendly with boring. The illusions are top-notch, leaving even the grown-ups asking How did he do that? As a bonus: The New Vic just debuted its renovated café and activity space. There, you can learn a magic trick of your own and grab cheap and yummy eats. The revamped Eat & Drink carries wrap bites, California rolls, Pirate’s Booty, boxed water, and more.
Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic
New Victory Theater
229 West 42nd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown
Through Saturday, December 30
Tickets start at $20
Get your tickets to this before they disappear. In the meantime, we planned the rest of your outing for you.