Editor’s Note: Michael Carbonaro’s performance at WestWorld of Scottsdale has been postponed. A new date has yet to be confirmed.
Magician and TV star Michael Carbonaro has been trying for “months and months and months” to host a drive-in gig. When WestWorld and R Entertainment came knocking, he jumped at the chance.
The host of truTV’s “The Carbonaro Effect” will bring his show to WestWorld Polo Fields at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19. Carbonaro’s show will feature his signature blend of bizarre antics, audience interaction, hilarious video clips and mind-blowing magic.
“I had the drive-in idea right away,” he says. “When the world shut down and live performances shut down, I equated that to the end of vaudeville for entertainers.
“I thought, ‘It’s over.’ That goes for everybody—from the hot dog vendors, the ticket takers. It was just devastating. My husband said the drive-ins were still open. We went and watched ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ in April and I thought, ‘Why am I not doing my show here?’ We were all safe, in our cars. We were together. We were all enjoying the movie together and it was refreshing.”
After all, the history of magicians and drive-in theaters run deep.
“Back in the 1950s, during horror screenings, magicians would do horror magic shows on top of the refreshment stands,” Carbonaro says. “We looked around and WestWorld in Scottsdale had their stuff together. They had a beautiful stage. We were like, ‘Let’s do two of them. I’m just beside myself.’”
When he signed the paperwork to perform at WestWorld, he says he wanted advertising to clearly state he’ll be in person at the venue. It’s not a video performance.
“We just stuck a big yellow sign that said, ‘Live in person’ on the sign. A lot of people still asked if I was going to be there. Yes, I’ll be there sweating it out there with you.”
A performing magician since his youth, Carbonaro went on to study experimental theater at New York University with the aspirations of entertaining audiences through a variety of theatrical mediums, including hidden-camera magic, which he later showcased frequently on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Following Carbonaro’s frequent late-night appearances, he was presented with the opportunity to launch his own television series, which would become “The Carbonaro Effect.”
In addition to his success on television and many live performances, Carbonaro’s extensive list of accolades includes the “Outfest Best Actor” award as well as the “Magician of the Year” honor, bestowed upon him by the Academy of Magical Arts. He was also inaugural recipient of the “Copperfield Prize,” which recognizes an individual for elevating the art of magic.
Like everyone else, Carbonaro has found the pandemic to be a roller coaster ride. But parts of it have been enlightening. He spent six years straight working on his television show and didn’t realize he was looking for an escape.
“I wanted to be able to sit and star at a wall for a few days in a row with my own mind and thoughts,” he says. “I wanted to get connected to what excited me, what I’m curious about. I wanted a different way of being creatives versus the demand of putting stuff out really quickly. I’ve been really welcoming the creative time and the connection with myself.
“I’ve been in my spirit since I was 13 years old, performing live. It was a nice way to feel grateful for how I really, truly love performing. I got a puppy. We’re being super safe. We’re really committed to all of the rules and always masked out in public. We’re washing our hands and not breaking the rules. We’ve been to the drive-in theater ourselves and hosted a couple outdoor screenings ourselves. We’re having fun while social distancing.”
For now, “The Carbonaro Effect” is on hold.
“I’m working on a number of other magic projects for television,” he says. “I want to do a TV special that is magic at the drive-in. I was looking to do a live version of our theater tour right before things shut down.
“Even if it wasn’t a pandemic necessity, there’s something sexy about a live show at the drive-in. We’re putting together a new wave of music for televisions that’ll be different. It’s a diversion from ‘The Carbonaro Effect,’ but all that’s moving slowly. We have some exciting ideas on the table.”
Michael Carbonaro, WestWorld of Scottsdale Polo Fields, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, https://rec.ticketforce.com/MichaelCarbonaro, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, September 19, $160 to $300 per carload.