After much delay and even more anticipation, on February 13 Arlene and Milt Larsen opened their Magic Castle Cabaret with a fabulous celebratory soirée for about 80 guests — Angel Members, other supporters, VIPs, press, and of course, world famous magicians and other entertainers. Guests wandered from one elegantly appointed room to another, marveling at the decor. They enjoyed drinks and food in the lounge and magic performances in the intimate theater.
Master magician Lance Burton, who performed more than 5,000 shows for about five million people at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, entertained the audience with one amazing trick after another. Milt shared how they named a room in the new venue overlooking the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge the Lance Burton Bird Lounge. Burton started his shows at the Monte Carlo with the Bird Act, which, according to Milt, is the most beautiful act in the world. Burton related how Milt got him his first appearance on Johnny Carson, which launched his career, and how happy he was to be part of Opening Night.
Another star performer was actor/magician Steve Valentine, known for his role in NBC’s Crossing Jordan and many film and other television appearances. He is also a longtime accomplished magician, having performed on and off at the Magic Castle for 25 years. His wildly entertaining performance combined magic and comedy with a bit of music thrown in. He shared how he hopes to perform regularly at the Magic Castle Cabaret. According to Valentine, he and other Magic Castle magicians all love Milt so much and really want to perform here.
Even the bartender at the Magic Castle Cabaret is a magician — Santa Barbara-based Mark Collier will be the resident magician bartender three nights per week, serving up magic along with drinks.
Legendary songwriter Richard Sherman, a longtime friend of the Larsens, shared with guests how he knows the club will be a smash hit and that he hopes to visit many, many times. He delighted the crowd by sitting down at the piano and singing verses from some of his hits, including Mary Poppins’ Chim Chim Cher-ee and A Spoonful of Sugar. He got the whole crowd smiling and singing along to It’s a Small World. Then Sherman concluded by sharing that there was one word to describe how he feels about the moment, and promptly launched into singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. This was indeed a very special Opening Night.
The private club, located on the site of the former Café del Sol, hosted a few small preview parties last summer before a mix-up on a permit requirement for the verandah and further work needing to be done delayed the official opening. The club features top magicians, all members of the Academy of Magical Arts, whose clubhouse is the Magic Castle in Hollywood, also founded by Milt Larsen. In the future, the club will feature other types of performers as well.
Founded in 1963, the Magic Castle is the Mecca for magicians worldwide. It has about 5,000 members, half of whom are magicians. The Magic Castle Cabaret is a social club with an intimate setting. Membership will be capped at 300.
The new venue’s interior decor is based on what the Larsens imagine the fictional Palace of Gold in Northern Spain, where a Count and Countess entertained magicians, would look like. Upon arrival, guests pass through a grand hall to the reception desk, where upon check-in, a large mirror, along with a table in front of it, magically disappear, allowing passage through the secret entrance.
The space exudes old world elegance and extravagance, yet its intimate size and Milt and Arlene’s warmth and friendliness make it also completely comfortable. The decor includes historical vaudeville and theater items from the Larsens’ lifetime collection. Some items came from the Magic Castle, like stunning stained glass windows for a divider in the bar area. Gold and deep red accents are at every turn.
Membership in the private club is $1,500, which includes the initiation fee and first year’s dues. The club is open Wednesday through Saturday evening. Among the celebrities who have joined so far are Steve Martin, Leonard Maltin, Ron Masak, Penn & Teller, Paul Rubin, Siegfried & Roy, Fred Willard, Jo Anne Worley, Lance Burton, David Copperfield, Jeff Bridges, and Alan Parsons. On the performance calendar for the next couple of months are Andrew Goldenhersh, Terry Lunceford, TC Tahoe, Mark Haslam, Willie Tyler & Lester, and George Tovar. For membership info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org; 805 845 0555.
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