America's Best Magic Shows

Leave your sense of doubt at home, and let yourself be mystified and thrilled at the country's best magic shows.
By: Jennifer Plum Auvil

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Photo by: John Rowley

John Rowley

Modern-day magicians put on spectacular magic shows in dazzling theaters and intimate parlors around the country. Leave your sense of doubt at home, and let yourself be mystified and thrilled at the country’s best magic shows.

Penn & Teller 
Las Vegas, Nevada
Penn and Teller are the original blend of comedy and magic on the Strip. With a performance resume that stretches 30 years, the “Bad Boys of Magic” have a permanent home with nightly performances at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino where their magic show includes fire-eating showgirls, sight gags and even some secrets to how it’s all done -- generally a no-no in the world of magic.

Criss Angel Believe
Las Vegas, Nevada
Criss Angel, of Mindfreak fame, pushes the limits of magic shows with his provocative performances. His magical acts include walking on water, allowing himself to be run over by a steamroller while lying on a bed of glass and levitating above the Luxor Hotel. His Las Vegas magic show, “Criss Angel Believe,” at the Luxor Hotel is a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil that pays homage to the late Harry Houdini.

Nathan Burton Comedy Magic 
Las Vegas, Nevada
Nathan Burton charms guests of all ages at his combo comedy and magic show at the Flamingo Las Vegas Showroom. Though Burton performs with some scantily clad showgirls, the 4 p.m. showtime and wacky illusions make this magic show a rare family-friendly option in Sin City.

The Magic Castle
Los Angeles, California
Many magicians got their start at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, the home of the Academy of Magical Arts since 1963. The Magic Castle is a private club and to enjoy the facilities you must be a member (non-magicians may join) or befriend a member who will pass along a guest card. Once you pass this first rigorous entrance test, you can enjoy dinner and a magic show. There’s intimate seating for 22 guests in the Close-Up Gallery, an homage to Victorian parlor magic in the Parlour of Prestidigitation and grand illusions in the Palace of Mystery.

Kirby VanBurch
Branson, Missouri
After traveling around the world and dazzling crowds with his wild illusions, Kirby VanBurch found a permanent home in 1992 in Branson, MO. Known as the Prince of Magic, his signature act involves the appearance of a 35-foot JetRanger helicopter in under 4 seconds. In addition to his great illusions, VanBurch’s magic show features an impressive menagerie of animal friends including leopards, lions, a Royal White Bengal tiger named Branson and, reportedly, a unicorn.

Chamber Magic
New York, New York
The Millionaires’ Magician Steve Cohen performs his intimate magic shows in a private suite in New York’s swanky Waldorf Towers. His magic show, described as a night of elegant miracles, dazzles an intimate group of 50 well-heeled guests with sleight of hand and mind-reading every weekend. An even smaller showcase for just 20 guests is available once a month at the “Miracles at Midnight” late-night magic show.

Monday Night Magic
New York, New York
The cast of characters is constantly rotating at Monday Night Magic at The Players Theater. The magic show has changed venues since it took the stage in 1997, but it remains the longest-running off-Broadway magic show. Though the line-up is different every Monday night, there’s sure to be a variety of classic trickery, silent manipulation, comedic magic and surreal treats for true magic aficionados.

The Magic Cabaret
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago was a city of magicians in the late 19th century with magic shows in parlors and clubs, but the art faded by the mid-20th century. Magic made a comeback in 2007 with the Magic Cabaret every Wednesday night at the Greenhouse Theater Center. Magicians P.T. Murphy and David Parr bring classic magic back to the Windy City with their no-frills magic show that blurs the line between illusion and reality.

The Outta Control Magic Show at WonderWorks
Orlando, Florida
You would expect a magic show in Orlando to appeal to both children and adults, and the Outta Control Magic Show doesn’t disappoint. The admission fee includes the magic show, unlimited pizza, popcorn, salad, beer, wine and soda. The regular magician is Tony Brent who entertains the crowds 6 nights a week at 6 and 8 p.m., while a special guest visits on his night off. Aside from the magic show, WonderWorks has over 100 wacky, kid-friendly exhibits, including a 4-D theater and an indoor ropes course.

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