Wednesday, November 21, 2012 review !

Reviewed by Theresa Buchheister

The feeling of a cold hand on your shoulder in the dark. Arm hair gently raising off of goose-bumped skin. A twinge of dread mingled with excitement in the pit of your stomach. The exhilaration of knowing that everything could go wrong and that, more likely than not, nothing will go exactly right. Trusting the virtuosity of a real person in front of me to not only hit the marks, but make me smile through my sweat at the end of it all.
These are all reasons that I love live performance—in particular, spook shows, sideshows, magic shows, circus acts, aerialists, and the like. Thus, my genuine thrill in hearing that Canal Park Playhouse would be hosting weekly Spook Shows.
The theatre is in an old brick building, as far over on Canal as you can go before falling in the Hudson. Upon opening the front door with its bizarrely low handle, I walked into a cozy waffle cafe, with skull decorations on all of the tables and something bulky in the middle of the room covered in a big black sheet. As the hour approached, we were led into a small back-room theatre with tight brick walls, asymmetrical stage space, old-fashioned inward-opening wooden windows, and honest-to-goodness theatre seats. The grid was hung with slightly dim lamps and the air filled with sounds of bells, tones, chants and organs for an extra spooky boost. It is an unexpected gift (at least in New York) to see a show housed in a location so entirely fitting and atmospheric.
House of Ghostly Haunts takes the perfectly strange qualities of the space, the rich history of the spook show, and the hybrid skill set of the creator/performer (Cardone the Magician) and runs with it.
Upon seeing Cardone, I scribbled in my notebook “Hmmm... Rockabilly Magician,” which became an increasingly apt way of looking at the performer and the show—a continual meeting of styles and genres, often in ways I had never seen nor imagined.
His tailed coat and mustache are very magician, while his slick hair, belt and shoes are very rockabilly. His persona hopped (or, occasionally and pleasurably, melded into a seamless presence) between storyteller, showman, and educator. Most notably, the meat of the show Frankensteined mentalism and ventriloquism, escape and illusion, science and humor, seance and Elvis fandom.
My socks were delightfully blown off by “mentrilquism,” especially—which is what you imagine when thinking of the two component art forms: part mind-reading and part voice-throwing. The combination alone was impressive, but the bit itself was continually surprising.
Speaking of surprises, there is no way to describe the escape/illusion combination without messing up a brilliant and risky moment in the show. I can only say it had me from the start and then decided to blow my mind in another direction altogether.
Having created this magical monster of stage performance (with impressive magical device design by Bud West), Cardone led the diversely aged audience through 90 minutes of thrills and chills, with a little break in the middle to share with us more of his personal fascination with magic and spooky stuff in his traveling Dime Museum. Though, as part of his shtick, I wish he had created a collective means of response for us in the beginning (“Clap when I hold my arms out to you dramatically!” or “Yell out answers when I ask you questions!”), so that we could help the show maintain momentum.
Due to the nature of the show (homage to Spook Shows), of course, there were bits and tricks I had seen before, some of them placed, timed, and executed better than others, and moments where the bottom dropped out due to inconsistent precision (sitting in the back row was possibly to blame for noticing some messy tech prep) and structural issues, potentially due to the lack of a director. For such an ambitious and complicated show, a strong offstage hand can be greatly beneficial and take the work to the next level (for a prime example, Todd Robbins’ spook show, Play Dead, directed by Teller).
In the end, though, I was left grinning massively—thrilled, terrified, and impressed by the innovative hybrids presented by Cardone the Magician. House of Ghostly Haunts leaves audience members of all ages with the electric tingle of live performance.
If I say anything more, it will spoil the magic.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cardone interviewed by TDF Stages !

The Man Behind the "Ghostly Haunts".

A magician brings surprising true stories to his act
The House of Ghostly Haunts, at Canal Park Playhouse in Tribeca, is a throwback to the traditional spook shows of the mid-twentieth century. Audiences can see the star, Cardone the Magician, levitate tables, escape from a strait jacket, and even use an onstage guillotine.
But the most surprising element of Ghostly Haunts, which plays every Tuesday, may be Cardone’s autobiography. If smoke and mirrors are a requisite part of magic, then Cardone, a lifelong magician, makes sure the mirrors reflect back on him.
This isn’t a matter of ego but education. “When you see a magic show, what do you learn about the guy as a human being? Nothing!” says Cardone, adding that the only other form of performance akin to magic is professional wrestling. “Both sides know it’s choreographed, but they pretend it’s real. The idea is to infuse my real-life character into the show.”
Of course, it would be sacrilege for a magician to divulge trade secrets, so instead of exposing the art of the thrill, he shares the thrill of the art. In one segment, for instance, Cardone reminisces about his grandfather, who influenced him with simple magic tricks, before he makes five razor blades disappear down his throat. He also explores his idol worship of Elvis Presley before summoning him in a séance. (“Elvis is a big part of my life. If I’m going to contact a ghost, what bigger ghost is there?”) Cardone even takes audiences on a mini-field trip to the Playhouse lobby, where he shows off his dime museum. “It’s like coming to my house,” he says.
Kipp Osborne, Canal Park’s producer, appreciates Cardone’s approach: “While you could argue that everything he does is a fraud by definition, Cardone himself is the real deal,” he says. “[He has] authenticity and passionate commitment to his work.”
Cardone wants to spread the same passion for magic that claimed him when he received a magic kit at the age of five. Though he graduated from the competitive acting program at Carnegie Mellon University (where his classmates included Christian Borle and Patrick Wilson), acting itself bored him. After graduation, he came to New York and exclusively pursued magic as a profession, establishing a long and varied client list to whom he teaches magic tricks and freelancing through six different agents for work like his Ghostly Haunts gig.
But performance training clearly pays off in Cardone’s ability to connect with the crowd. He knows how to read his audience, many members of whom he will pick to “volunteer” as assistants in the show. “In the beginning I try to break the ice, so they know that it’s a spook show but they can laugh,” he explains. “Every night has a different energy, and as soon as I can smell it, I’ll focus on the vibe. I won’t necessarily change the trick, but I’ve got to prescribe the right medicine.”
Doug Strassler is a critic, reporter, and the editor of the NY IT Awards newsletter
Photo of Cardone the Magician by Jim Baldassar

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another review for the show from Zombo's Closet !

Cardone Spookshow Ghostly Fun
At Canal Park Playhouse


Devil-dice05Cardone's magic and spookshow at the Canal Park Playhouse, playing every Tuesday until April 17th, is an intimate, weird, and funny romp for just about everyone (except very young kids), especially the last 10 minutes, when the lights die and the ghosts come alive.

Wiry, long-haired, with a moustache that will never reach adulthood, Cardone is a charge of energy as he flamboozles his audience with illusions and a cheeky, Coney Island Barker style of showmanship as he entertains with magic, a straitjacket escape, and blackout spooks that are quite creepy. With a warning to leave before being locked in with the ghosts, the audience stayed in their seats except for one young boy who first tried moving from the front row, then zipped up his coat hood to hide away in, then, not getting much sympathy from his parents, left the small theater to wait outside.

But before those 10 minutes of pitch black filled with ghastly apparitions comes, done in all seriousness--or as much seriousness a 1950s spookshow would generate, of course--there's the intimidating guillotine, the television of the future, Elvis's sunglasses, razors to be swallowed, and a short intermission involving dirt from Dracula's Castle--no, not that one but the real Dracula's Castle--and assorted pass-around oddities to examine.

cardone spook showThe straitjacket escape is done (magicians, take note) with a Posey regulation jacket, the proper size (yes, straitjackets have sizes) to fit Cardone snugly. This is thereal one, ungimmicked, although being a slick magician, Cardone knows a trick or two on how to get out of it. The only quibble I have with his performance here is his explanation of the most commonly used gimmicked straitjackets. This is probably the one time in the show he's actually telling the truth. For the sake of amateur magicians everywhere, I hope no one believed him.

Some of you may remember the intimacy of Imam's Magic Cafe in Greenwich Village. That same intimacy of a live performance happening a few feet away from you is captured in the Canal Park Playhouse. And there are waffles! With real maple syrup.

Perhaps the most bizarre and funniest moment is reached when Cardone uses the help of a spirit, caught in a plastic jar filled with greenbacks, to devine an audience member's selected card; then again, there's the appropriate song Cardone sings--rather well--while sticking his head in the guillotine.

That was also pretty unusual, for an already unusual show you shouldn't miss.

Zombo's Closet

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First Review is in for the Spook Show !

Cardone -not just your everyday magician.

By: Sandi Durell

If it’s spooky, scary, flying goblins and ghosts you’re after, you’ve got ‘em and more! Cardone, dubbed a Vaudeville Magician, is a multi-faceted talent whose skills as an illusionist, mind-reader, ventriloquist and actor make for a satisfying evening of performance. And, yes, you can bring the kids. The Canal Park Playhouse downtown is the home to Cardone’s “Spook Show – House of Ghostly Haunts” where, every Tuesday at 7 pm thru April 17th, you can shriek, ooh and aah and maybe even become part of the show.

From mind-reading card tricks to swallowing razor blades, to making Elvis sunglasses float on a table, or placing an audience member in the Time Machine of Death, there’s no doubt that one cannot help but be delighted by the skillfulness Cardone exhibits and his humorous presentation. Things get a little more edgy watching him escape from a straight jacket or the ultimate “off with his head” at the guillotine.

Together with eerie background organ music and video screen clips from the film “House of Terror” setting the tone, you won’t be disappointed. Why he even shows you his private Dime Museum collection midway

Canal Park Playhouse, 508 Canal St., NYC Tickets: 888-811-4111

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spook Show back in NYC 4 shows !!!!

Razor blades, guillotines and ghosts oh my....
This March and April I will have a residency at the Canal Park Playhouse NYC performing my old school spook show.
The theatre is a frightfully perfect place to present a classic piece of ghoulish entertainment. As a bonus I will be displaying my dime museum of strange artifacts from around the world ! The theatre also has an optional pre-show dinner! It's an all ages show, but it is a bit scary and has periods of sudden darkness. Beware!
The dates are :
March 27th
April 3, 10, 17
Show time 7 pm
For information and tickets visit: