"Deja Vu2 at the Presto Magic Cafe," a variety show of magic, music and more, recently enjoyed a three-day stint at the Actors Forum Theatre in North Hollywood.
While this show has since disappeared, in the spirit of sibylline soothsaying, it is likely to reappear soon.
This mock cafe variety show, hosted by the pair of authentic Magic Castle illusionists, Brian Joseph Ochab and Brandon Scott, and including rock band Saint Tone along with a host of carnival-esque cabaret acts, is sure to entertain audiences of all realms.
In the spirit of card tricks, which are abundant, and which are among the show’s highlights, listed here is a ranking of the show’s finest attributes:
Rank of Acts
Royal Flourish: The chemistry between the pair of master illusionists who perform many of the tricks together, upping both intrigue and risk
Sleight of Flourish: The card tricks and sleights of hand, that when performed close-up impress even the most skeptical of audience members
Force of a Kind: The audience participation throughout the show that keeps energy and excitement up
Full House: The set, designed presumably by director Harry Evry, along with co-conspirators Brandon Scott and Brian Joseph Ochab, which is detailed and colorful
Tertiary Flourish: The acting skills of the tertiary performers, most notably, Malaika Millions, Bonnie Gordon, Larry Lederman and Christine Barger, who strive to keep spirits high
Saint: The positive vibe and musicianship of rock band Saint Tone, whom would likely earn, in a different context, a much higher ranking
For/of Kin: The appearance of Karen Knotts, Don Knotts’ daughter, who is currently touring her one-woman show “Tied Up in Knotts”
Two Peer: The spilling over of the acts into the lobby beforehand and during intermission
One Heroine: The hospitality of the venue’s proprietor, Audrey Marlyn Singer, who has produced every Actors Forum Theatre-originated play since the theater’s creation 36 years ago
High Bard: The piano player, Larry Lederman, who before the show plays and sings in the lobby and even takes requests
Folded: The incongruity of tone among the central three elements, which cuts a more complete enjoyment. While the two hosts perfect the balance between serious-skill and whimsy, the mock cabaret acts are ALL whimsy, to the point of pointless ridiculousness, and the band is all seriousness, which creates a notable dissonance.
Furthermore, the audience participation is not as thoroughly integrated into the conceit of cafe-hosts-variety-show-auditions as it could be. The audience could participate in judging the acts and/or in auditioning themselves, and they could also join the band on tambourine or in some other way that would both lighten the tone of the band and more fully develop their mutual purpose.
As it is now, the audience is included in the magic tricks and in one or two of the mock audition acts, but they are not involved consistently and aptly in all pertinent ways; and the band is too self-serious.
According to the show’s creators, this show is still in flux, and because of the entire cast’s sublime skills, it is certain that when the show does resurrect, it will marvel and astound.