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Not Bad for the Save Mart Shopping Center

Magique Explodes on Keystone Avenue

Housed in perhaps the least expected place in Reno, a Save Mart Shopping Center on Keystone Avenue, The Theatre has given new life to an old building. Built to house a state-of-the-art magic show heavy in special effects and created by long-time performers Kevin Jeffrey and Lord Caruso, the strip mall space is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the biggest little city, routinely selling out to crowds of both visitors and locals.

Picture this: purple and red hued laser beans shooting from every direction, blasts of smoke hitting the stage floor, and showgirls dressed to the nines in feather headdresses and sky-high leather boots, all before the real magic even starts. Magique, the resident show at The Theatre is perhaps Reno’s most hidden gem, all Las Vegas glamour without the strip. The owners say it’s akin to the hotpots in New York, where you can routinely find the chicest bar behind an alleyway dumpster.

How Jeffrey and Lord Caruso came to run The Theatre is somewhat of an unlikely story. Growing up in Reno, they began making money as street performers in the late 90s and eventually were hired to perform at events like the rib cookoff and state fair. The act snowballed, focused more on big productions than close-up magic, finding space in Tahoe before striking a deal with Carnival cruise ships and opening a theater in Miami.

When the pandemic hit, a pivot was necessary, and the duo returned home, but not to lick their wounds. Instead, they found an abandoned theater space in Downtown Reno that, most recently, had served as a part of Truckee Meadows Community College’s music school. However, its history also includes time as a cinema, a nightclub, and a brothel.

The two do more than produce the shows. Lord Caruso and Jeffrey are up there seven to eight nights per month wowing the crowd with their over-the-top type of magic. “It was always about the razzmatazz and the grandeur of the art,” Jeffrey says, referencing Siegfried and Roy and David Copperfield as influences. “Our show really moves fast, there’s no downtime, there’s no long winded card tricks.”

Instead of looking for sly hand movements, the crowd won’t have time to focus on any one spot for too long. The team has spent more than 100 hours perfecting their lighting and special effects. While Jeffrey is sawing a woman in half, a team of line dancers are completing high kicks in sequins and high heels. The showgirls—eight in all—are a big piece of the show. “We like to do everything in a way that keeps the flow of the show in line with how people receive entertainment these days,” Jeffrey explains. “We don’t really focus on any one trick.”

While Magique only debuted in Reno two years ago when The Theatre opened, Lord Caruso and Jeffrey have been refining their performances for decades. They produce and cast cruise ship shows for Carnival still but the hometown piece is their bread and butter, simply a revised and improvised version of what they’ve been doing for nearly 30 years.

Every piece of the production is of its own design. They choose the music, cast the dancers, imagine the choreography, find the magicians, work on the pyrotechnics and lighting effects, and even act in the shows. Lord Caruso hand makes every costume you see on stage—over 100 in all.

Magique may have the residency, but it’s not the only show performed in The Theatre. A couple of times each year, Rouge Worx (another local theater company) uses the space to perform a run. Typically, the show will come in for six to eight weeks and play on Friday evenings. These are more tailored to a local crowd while Magique tends to draw in tourists. When no performances are scheduled, The Theater is a rental space.

Cruise ships are running again and casino entertainment has returned post pandemic, but Lord Caruso and Jeffrey don’t intend to return to touring. Instead, they are enjoying their little slice of home, having more time to work on the show since they aren’t packing up and hauling equipment to the next city every few days. “All of our efforts can be put into the show itself,” Jeffrey says. “It evolves, it never changes all at once.”

To get your hands on the hot tickets, visit wethetheatre.com. Shows are family friendly but recommended for children ages five and up.

“It was always about the razzmatazz and the grandeur of the art"

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