Review: Mario the Magician and his Suitcase Machine

mariomagicianMy son and I and a few members of the NYC Dads Group got a chance to wander over to the Metropolitan Room a couple of Saturday mornings ago to see Mario the Magician’s kids show.  The show was delightful, really a lot of fun.  The venue was…. interesting.

Mario is a very amiable performer.  He does a show that on paper sounds like a lot of typical kid’s magic shows- the bumbling magician who gets everything wrong.  What sets Mario apart from the typical is his energy and magnetism for the kids (they loved him) and his ingenious self-built prop, the suitcase machine.

This machine/suitcase mario_2is a wonder of little servo motors and other tricks that allow the suitcase and the props inside to flout Mario’s authority at every turn.  Flags poke out, things get shot out, and all sorts of other cool things happen.  Later in the show, he pulls out another cool invention, a robot monkey that helps him achieve some of his magic effects.   With both of these devices, Mario’s timing is spot on, and the machine has just the right amount of subversive lag time to make it hilarious.

I’ve seen lots of cool and funny and ingenious magic shows, and this one ranks right up there.   And more importantly, the kids in the audience were all ecstatic for Mario’s work, and followed the logic perfectly. At the end of the show, Mario brings out his bird Mozzarella to do one final trick, and the crowd goes wild.
While I thought the show was fabulous and well-done, I thought it starts on the wrong foot. The show starts out with a documentary movie about Mario and his wanderings, and his inspirations.  The movie is perhaps 10 minutes long.  While I thought the movie was interesting, and told us some stuff about Mario, including explaining his love of travelling and his love of inventing, and how Bob Dylan inspires him, but the movie seemed a little out of place in the context of the show It didn’t really do its job, which was to set us up to watch a very funny magic act.  However,  once Mario appeared and started doing his stuff, that’s when the magic really happened.

mario_posterAs for the venue, the space of the performance is fine, but I think the management is shooting itself in the foot.  The Metropolitan Room is a cabaret/theatre that mostly has cabaret/lounge acts, working at night but they’ve started doing Saturday morning kid’s shows.  My theory about this is that rent is expensive, and they feel that anytime they can utilize the space is better than not.  This works as a theory, but in practice the place is not designed for kids and the management hasn’t made any concessions to the kid’s crowd.   In my experience, this is typical of adult venues that want to attract kids– they don’t do it a lot, and they either don’t put any effort into it or don’t think outside their “adult venue box” enough.

For example, tickets to the show are cabaret priced ($30 for adults, $20 for kids) and there’s a 1 drink minimum per person on top of that. (Hey, it’s a 2 drink minimum during cabaret shows!) Drinks are $5-6 each,  And worse yet, they don’t have juice boxes, apple juice, or chocolate milk.   So this 45 minute show costs almost $100 for a family of 3. [PLEASE NOTE: We were provided complimentary tickets to the show, in order to write this review.  My thoughts about this show are not based on the free-ness of the tickets.]

My suggestion to the management is to lower your prices, and possibly make it a kid’s brunch, and include a nice little kid’s meal as part of the package.  A juice box, some cookies, and a cheese sandwich would go a long way towards making parents in the audience happier, and more likely to come back on a date night without their kids.

mario_1Upcoming dates at the Metropolitan Room:
Sat June 15, 11:30AM
Sat July 6, 11:30AM

PRICE: $20 child, $30 adult + one (1) food/beverage item minimum

WHERE: Metropolitan Room 34 West 22nd Street (between 5th + 6th Avenues), NYC

MORE INFO:  http://www.marioandhissuitcasemachine.com/

Mario is also available for private parties, and other events.

Here’s a calendar of some of his other summer events, including a number of opportunities to see him for free in the boroughs.:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
6:00 PM family magic show
Mostly Music at Memorial Park Nyack NY FREE

Friday, July 12, 2013
4:00 PM family magic show
Family Fun Friday @ Westfield Trumbull Mall 5065 Main Street Trumbull CT

Sunday, July 14, 2013
3:00 PM family magic show 
@ Grasso’s Magic Theatre Philadelphia PA
$10 child, $20 adult $30 VIP (front row + popcorn)

Saturday, July 27, 2013
3:00 PM family magic show
accompanied by the Sleight of Hand Band
Lincoln Center Local @ Queens Library at Cambria Heights
218-13 Linden Blvd Cambria Heights QUEENS NY
FREE

Monday, August 12, 2013
6:00 PM family magic show
accompanied by the Sleight of Hand Band
Lincoln Center Local @ Queens Library at Lefrak City
98-30 57 Avenue Corona QUEENS NY
FREE

Thursday, August 22, 2013
11:00 AM family magic show @ Nyack Farmers’ Market
Municipal Lot, Main Street Nyack NY  FREE

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