The last six months don’t seem like an ideal time to start charging $250 a ticket for a 75-minute show.
But in February — with global recession worries at fever pitch — magician Steve Cohen launched “Miracles at Midnight” in a suite at the Waldorf-Astoria’s Waldorf Towers. With zero advertising. And so far, it’s selling out.
Of course, attendance is limited to 20, and at the moment the event is skedded to play only once a month, in tandem with Cohen’s nine-year-old “Chamber Magic,” which he performs before larger audiences five times a week in the same suite. (Tickets for that one are $70; $100 for the front row.)
The new show includes feats Cohen considers his top-tier illusions: A friendly ghost makes cards levitate; an audience member’s wedding ring mysteriously appears tied up in Cohen’s shoelace; two packs of shuffled cards alarmingly rearrange themselves while nobody seems to be touching them.
A major component of Cohen’s overall illusion, of course, is the feel of old-school exclusivity he lends to a small-scale event held at the witching hour in a private suite at a storied Gotham hotel. And that $250 price tag, certainly, contributes to the allure.
Cohen’s business model is almost entirely dependent on word-on-mouth, particularly among the upper-crust auds he made the conscious decision to cultivate after a magazine referred to him as “the millionaire’s magician.”
“I thought if I tout myself that way, I’d probably lose some business, but also gain a lot in terms of the audience I wanted to pitch to,” he says. So he trumpets his famous fans, who include Woody Allen, Stephen Sondheim, Martha Stewart and Barry Diller, among others.
Even in a recession, he adds, there are still wealthy folk for whom a $500 date night won’t break the bank.
And no matter what your income bracket, don’t bother trying to figure out the secrets behind his tricks. “I’m willing to work hours and hours and hours to impress you for 10 seconds,” he says. “You really have no chance.”
Changing their rep tune
Composer-lyricist duo Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have signed with the Gersh Agency, where John Buzzetti will rep the pair.
Ahrens and Flaherty leave William Morris Endeavor in the wake of the recent merger and the pinkslipping of former WMA legit topper Peter Franklin.
The duo (“Once on this Island,” “Seussical”) return to Broadway this fall with the Gotham transfer of the well-reviewed Kennedy Center revival of “Ragtime,” opening at the Neil Simon Theater Nov. 15.
They join a Gersh stable of tuner creatives that includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeanine Tesori, Diane Paulus and Jason Moore.