A New Manhattan West Theater combines comedy and magic with fine dining

Tucked inside a central commercial plaza in Manhattan West, Brookfield’s mixed-use development adjacent to Hudson Yards, there’s a curious tenant with a returning sensibility that its owners hope will prove “magical” for residents. New Yorker. With an art deco facade that would place it more organically in Tim Burton Batman movies than its current all-glass surroundings all the time, the Midnight Theater is a new state-of-the-art arts venue paired with food and liquor experiences. Its bread and butter are magic shows, but Midnight Theater co-founder and creative director Warren Adcock, who has a deep magic resume as a production manager, says its wooden and aluminum doors patinated brass will be open to creatives of all kinds. .

“It was definitely in the cards from the start that we considered this a cross-gender space,” Adcock says, seemingly not noticing his wonderful magic pun. “We let the world know that we are open-minded.”

He envisions the stars of Broadway adorning the midnight theater on stage, delivering a revival or developing a varied showcase of the music they enjoy the most. There could be album release parties and play readings, he says, envisioning the Midnight Theater as an “incubator” for performances in various stages of development.

“We want to do for a show what Joe’s Pub did for hamilton“, says Adcock.

There will most definitely be some stand-up comedy, starting in November when the New York Comedy Festival kicks off. A solo show produced by Adcock and featuring Chicago-based production alumnus Holly James will also debut at the Midnight Theater next month. hamiltonas well as Broadway musicals American psycho and Red Mill!. This time, his credit will read: A brief history of magic.

James says the show follows a girl who grows up around magic, and when she decides to embark on a career as a magician, through “weird and wonderful ways, she learns magic tricks from the greatest magicians in the world. world”. James was drawn to the role because, like her character, she herself took a leap of faith to pursue a dream, leaving her English homeland to perform in the United States with her success not guaranteed. This connective tissue helped James through what she describes as a “crash course” in magic, “‘crash’ being the key word,” she says.

“When I told my mum about the show, she was like, ‘Well, you can’t even shuffle a deck of cards,'” says James, a Scorpio who, perhaps jokingly, maybe not, replied informing her mother that she would. not be invited to the show. “It’s all very foreign to me,” James continues, “but I’m in very, very good hands, and the magicians who have taught me are some of the best in the world.”

By the time A brief history of magic opens, the Midnight Theater will be ready to fully unleash the technological features that Adcock says will separate it from other performance spaces across the city. The 150-seat theater is equipped with projection mapping capabilities, creating digital backdrops and an immersive experience for audiences as video art is displayed on its walls. (Think: the recent Van Gogh exhibition.) A digital stage that viewers can expect to be transported to during A brief history of magic will be another theatre, partly inspired by Harry Houdini’s early 20th century Hippodrome Theater, which was located in Midtown Manhattan. If a show calls for it, performers and audiences at the Midnight Theater can find themselves interacting with the wall projections, virtual characters programmed to respond to environmental stimuli.

Projection mapping will help magicians, comedians, comedians and other artists tell a story, says Adcock, who himself studied creative writing as a graduate student at The New School. It was the storytelling element of magic shows that helped Adcock feel like he belonged in the space he fell into 11 years ago after responding to a post on Craigslist that turned out to be a gig with David Blaine. (Adcock says the ad simply read: “Production Assistant Wanted. Must be able to ride a scooter.”) After working with Blaine, he says he learned about site design and new innovations in this category while employed by MSG Ventures, where he helped secure the MSG Sphere project in progress in Las Vegas.

With A brief history of magic on the opening night precipice in his new digs, Adcock says, “It was easier for me to build a theater and put a show in it than to write a show and have someone put it on. another. ”

Attracting the general public, however, brings its share of challenges. Attending a magic show during the Midnight Theater’s opening weekend in September, I sat in a curved booth with plush, padded upholstery, billed as part of the VIP section. It was in the second-to-last row, which made the card tricks performed on stage, about 50 feet away by my estimation, hard to see and appreciate. The complimentary champagne didn’t quell the frustration of the couples to my left and right at being seated with strangers. (I swear, I took a shower before going out.)

But without addressing these issues with Adcock in my interview, he states that he and his team are working to improve these specific elements of the audience experience, among others. Live video will be projected onto the walls, allowing guests at the back of the theater to better decipher the complex events unfolding far ahead of them on stage. And Adcock says VIP package prices won’t entirely depend on where customers sit in the future, but rather what perks they decide to add to their purchase, such as inspirational dishes. pan-Asian cuisine from the Hidden Leaf restaurant, located in the building and the drinks from its cocktail bar.

When I finally told him about the beef from my booth mates, Adcock said, “Trust me, I’ve heard of it” and added that the directors of the Midnight Theater will probably never stop working to make the best place for visitors.

“Our mission statement, really, is to bring entertainment to an unprecedented level of intimacy for audiences and performers alike,” says Adcock. “We want people to come and have that high-quality experience that you expect in the neighborhood and in New York. As New Yorkers, we have certain expectations and we try to meet them.

As Holly James said while hosting the magic show I attended, the Midnight Theater has “everything under one roof that will help you escape your shitty life.”

You can’t expect much more than that.

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