- Jessica Elizarraras
Consider it a form of escapism. You're unplugged from Facebook. You're not double tapping on Insta, and you're unaware of what's going on in the world, near or far. It's just you, your hot dog, an hour's worth of illusions and Frank, the former church-turned-theater-turned-restaurant and bar.
Parents of young kids might already be familiar with The Magicians Agency, which had two short-lived runs in previous years at the Magik Theatre. The Magicians Agency is a two-hour, all-ages magic set that tells the tale of a magician-run secret organization and its latest recruit, Scott Pepper.
Pepper, an England native who's spent the last 24 years trying to make it as a magician, leads the set, held most Tuesdays and Saturdays since March and whose residence will last through August. Pepper and Frank owner Daniel Northcutt connected when Pepper was searching for a venue.
"We'll do anything, we just love having fun, we're event-based, nothing's completely out of the norm for us," says Northcutt.
Once Pepper, 34, retrofitted the stage with new curtains and lights, the Magicians Agency was re-launched. It's a family-friendly show geared toward locals and tourists alike.
"We're all about experiences and making memories and that's what happens when they come here and see a phenomenal magic show. They're taking memories home from Scott, from Frank, from San Antonio," Northcutt says.
- Courtesy of Scott Pepper
The night includes dinner with guests choosing from a set menu of Frank's signature dogs, choice of side and soda or iced tea. At $35 for general admission, it almost feels like a steal, considering you're about to get your mind blown during the show.
Once all attendees trickle in for a 5 o'clock show, they grab seats in the comedy club-style arrangement, place their orders and watch as Pepper or assistant Jay Garcia go around the tables doing close-up magic tricks using cards or rope. The audience during our performance included a few pre-teens, duos out on date night (even a one-year anniversary), and older married couples. Service is quick and efficient as they have to serve everyone before the show starts, so you're eating and settling in within the hour.
For Pepper the new mix of audience members (unlike at that Magik Theatre) means he has a more creative wiggle room at his new location, where he caters to skeptics, people who want to disconnect for an hour or two or people that just love magic.
These aren't Gob Bluth's illusions, either.
The Magicians Agency begins with the night's set-up: the new recruit's here to earn the last few badges needed to qualify as an agent, think young James Bond if 007 was into sawing people in half and had a serious penchant for playing cards. We learn all this through a projection on the wall with plenty of bells and whistles. Without divulging much, it's safe to say the show is campy, but professional. It's awe-inspiring, funny, and light. Even as a skeptic of all things magic, it's hard not to get swept away by the evenly paced show, with Pepper commanding the attention of the audience with his rapid-fire jokes and witty comebacks to the occasional heckler.
"On my way up to working cruise ships, I had to work some pretty interesting venues. Comedy clubs, holiday parks, ferries, things like that. Where hecklers were guaranteed! So I had to learn on my feet the hard way. So now I still have a pocket full of comebacks and quips that I can use if people think they want to be clever," Pepper said via email.
The show ends just as it started, with an impressive illusion using assistant Heather Bruno that'll leave non-believers scratching their heads. The 34-year-old will be showcased this summer in the CW's Masters of Illusion, so get to Frank before he hits it big and disappears.
Tickets, $35-$50, can be purchased at magiciansagency.com.