Home » London Theatre Reviews » Mario the Maker Magician at Underbelly Boulevard | Review

Mario the Maker Magician at Underbelly Boulevard | Review

One measure of how Soho has been transformed over the last 30 years is the presence of this show, aimed squarely at very young children at a venue at the southern end of the once notorious Berwick Street. It’s an astonishing change for anyone who can remember the kinds of establishments that once thrived in the area. Not that that will have been apparent to Mario Marchese, better known as Mario the Maker Magician and formerly of Nyack in Rockland County, New York.

Mario the Maker Magician at Underbelly Boulevard. Photo credit Katie Marchese.
Mario the Maker Magician at Underbelly Boulevard. Photo credit Katie Marchese.

Back in 2014, Marchese was already a veteran performer when Kal Toth filmed him for the award-winning documentary Building Magic (2014) and with a stellar appearance on The Tonight Show last year, Marchese’s career is finally taking off. It’s all a far cry from his early days building a cigar box guitar and whittling marionettes.

Given that David Blaine called him “the best kids’ magician in the world”, expectations have been high for Marchese’s first UK appearance, at the Underbelly Boulevard until the 4th of August. And boy have they been they met. I have never experienced an audience so raucously engaged, so captivated and … so noisy. Marchese’s tricks and self-designed robotics may be simple but then his patter is never simplistic and his execution absolutely flawless (especially when it appears not to be).

Combing the artistry and skills of the likes of Derren Brow and Tommy Cooper with the manic energy of Back to the Future’s Emmott Brown, Mario the Maker Magician owns not just the stage but the whole auditorium – you just know a performer has the audience in the palm of his when he can get dozens of 5 to 10 year olds to yell the names of his personal heroes – who include Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol – or to chant motivational catchphrases. Mario and his wife Katy describe themselves as a family business and this is very much a family show with audience participation and unparalleled levels of enthusiasm, in a phrase – quite simply, pure entertainment.

5 Star Rating

Review by Louis Mazzini

Performed by Mario “the Maker Magician” Marchese
Written by Mario and Katie Marchese
Produced by Katie Rosa Marchese and Chris Cox

Robots and magic and slapstick… oh my! Contagiously upbeat and full of heart, the ever-endearing Mario leads you through a romping explosion of energy and belly laughs punctuated with moments of heart and emotion that will catch you by surprise. Not “just a kids’ show,” Mario the Maker Magician is an all-ages theatrical experience… for adults, kids, families… everyone.

MARIO THE MAKER MAGICIAN
Underbelly Boulevard Soho, 6 Walker’s Court, London W1F 0BT
15 June to 4 August 2024
Various times (60 minutes running time)

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