Liberty Magic unveils subscriptions to 2019-20 season |

Liberty Magic unveils subscriptions to 2019-20 season

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
“Queen of Cardistry” Anna DeGuzman manipulates cards into impossible 3-D configurations. She will perform at Liberty Magic, Downtown Pittsburgh, from Feb. 19-March 29, 2020.
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Zabrecky will perform at Liberty Magic, Downtown Pittsburgh, from April 1-May 10, 2020. He combines irreverent dark humor, mentalism, wizardry and amazing feats of magical storytelling.
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Magician Dennis Watkins will perform Sept. 11-29 at Liberty Magic, Downtown Pittsburgh. His show is inspired by the great parlour magicians of the 1900s.

Anna DeGuzman found a deck of cards at her aunt’s house and knew the hand she was dealt.

“I immediately thought of magic,” said DeGuzman of New York at Tuesday’s news conference to announce Liberty Magic’s subscription packages for the 2019-20 season. “Cards are my favorite, because they can make people think gambling or games or like I thought about magic. There is so much you can do with cards.”

Known as the “Queen of Cardistry,” she will be perform Feb. 19- March 29, 2020, at Liberty Magic in Downtown Pittsburgh.

She cuts, flings, flips, rotates, juggles, and shuffles playing cards in the middle of the street, along train tracks, and in close-up shows at the most prestigious magic venues in the world, according to a news release. She manipulates those cards into impossible 3-D configurations.

When she works with the cards, her hands are a blur. She has large followings on YouTube and Instagram, but Pittsburgh will be her first-ever stage show.

“Magic tricks are beautiful to watch, because people enjoy them,” she said. “It’s nostalgic, and people like to figure out what you are doing. It makes the impossible seem real.”

Bringing that kind of intrigue to Pittsburgh is the mission of Liberty Magic. Located at 811 Liberty Ave., on the same block where Harry Houdini mesmerized Pittsburgh crowds in 1916, Liberty Magic is an intimate, speakeasy dedicated to the art of sleight-of-hand and prestidigitation, according to a news release.

The magicians and performers who appear at Liberty Magic offer a one-of-a-kind experience that is easy to access and hard to forget, said Scott Shiller, vice president of artistic planning for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and producer of Liberty Magic. The venue contains fewer than 70 seats in four rows.

The inaugural season in February was well received with sold-out performances. Guests enjoyed it so much they asked for a subscription opportunity, so the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust designed one, Shiller said.

Seating is general admission, but there is a skeleton key VIP experience in which people can reserve a space in the first two rows and have an exclusive meet-and-greet with the artist after the show.

“It is really impactful to see magic live,” Shiller said. “Having the performers only a few feet away is amazing. These shows are becoming more and more popular, because they are in a live setting. These artists have dedicated their life to perfecting a craft. It takes skill, just like dancing and singing and playing a violin. We want to elevate the art of magic here in Pittsburgh.”

Magicians turn adults into children, said Michael Chaut, of Monday Night Magic, New York’s longest-running, off-Broadway magic show.

“They will fool the pants off you,” Chaut said, as he put a hole in a $20 bill with a pen that mysteriously disappeared.

Liberty Magic events give guests the opportunity to meet the magicians after the show, said J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

“It’s interactive,” McMahon said. “The cultural district has opened the doors up wider to more and more audiences with Liberty Magic. Magic is becoming increasingly more popular. We took an empty storefront and turned it into an active, lively venue. “

The other magicians slated for the 2019-20 season:

Dennis Watkins, Sept. 11-29

Award-winning, third-generation magician Watkins brings an evening of sophisticated tomfoolery to Liberty Magic, direct from Chicago. His headlining show, The Magic Parlour, is the longest-running resident magic experience in the Windy City, having hosted more than 30,000 guests and over 1,000 performances over eight years in the historic Palmer House Hilton hotel.

Lee Terbosic, Oct. 23-Nov. 3

Harry Houdini died on Halloween night in 1926. Join Lee Terbosic, widely considered one of the foremost magical experts on Houdini, as he explores the mysteries surrounding Houdini’s astonishing life and death.

It seems quite appropriate that the world’s most famous magician should pass away on the year’s most “magical” day. Even more intriguing, Houdini was 52 years old when he died, the exact number of playing cards in a deck. Further, he was born 26 years before the start of the new century and died 26 years into the next one, as if his “life’s deck” had been deftly cut in half by “Fate,” the ultimate magician.

For 10 years after Houdini’s death, his wife Bess conducted a seance on Oct. 31.

Robert Ramirez, Nov. 27-Jan. 5

Ramirez is wearing tap shoes and playing the piano and singing while playing a ukulele. No, this isn’t an audition, it’s the newest song and dance and magic phenomenon at Liberty Magic.

A professional magician and musical theater actor, Ramirez starred in the national tour of “In the Heights” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and has performed in theaters all over the country, including Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall. As a magician, he has appeared on “Penn and Teller: FOOL US” and National Geographic’s “Brain Games.”

Derek Hughes, Jan. 8-Feb. 16

Quintessential funnyman Hughes has been lauded by audiences and critics alike, with the New York Times calling him “thoroughly entertaining.” Awarded first place in Stage Magic by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, he has performed on MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and the CW’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.”

He was a finalist on season 10 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,’ where he gained notoriety for his provocative materializations.

Zabrecky, April 1-May 10

Looking for a show a little outside-of-the-box? Zabrecky is a two-time Stage Magician of The Year award winner who has been voted Parlor Magician of the Year twice by the Academy of Magical Arts. Zabrecky combines irreverent dark humor, mentalism, wizardry and amazing feats with magical storytelling.

Zabrecky has appeared on “Criminal Minds,” “CSI NY,” “Comedy Bang Bang,” “Glow,” “Strange Angel” and “The Next Great Magician.” On “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” Penn Jillette awarded Zabrecky this compliment: “Sincerely funny and sincerely good!”

Liberty Magic is a BYOB speakeasy. Subscriptions range from $210-$390.


JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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