By Kourtney Webb
The longest-running annual magic show in the country is returning to the Queens Theater April 8 and will honor a local illusionist as “Magician of the Year.”
The 108th-Annual Salute to Magic, presented by the Society of American Magicians, will spotlight award-winning magicians performing classic magic tricks, comic illusions, and juggling — and honor Queens magician Rene Clement for his work mentoring the next generation of potential prestidigitators. The show began in 1909 and has featured performances by many of the greats, including Harry Houdini, David Copperfield and legendary card-trick impresario the Great Cardini.
The magician community looks forward to the show every year, said George Schindler, treasurer of SAM’s Parent Assembly Number 1, because magic provides pure enjoyment for all, and a welcome escape from the worries of the day.
“Magic is a way to get far from the problems of everyday life,” said Schindler. “That’s what we do here. We make people forget about the day-to-day and just let them have fun.”
This year’s show will also honor Clement with the “Magician of the Year” award, bestowed annually by the society to a professional magician who has gone above and beyond for the organization.
Clement was selected for this year’s award based on his work with aspiring illusionists as part of the society’s mentoring program for kids aged 7–17, according to Schindler.
“We keep them away from drugs and hook them on magic,” Schindler said. “Clement has been a good influence, and has done so much for the organization that we felt he had to be given this honor.”
The show is different from typical, over-the-top, “high-powered” magic shows because Salute to Magic makes a point of being affordable and accessible for families, while many traveling magic shows are expensive and not easy to get to.
“We are a nonprofit so we don’t look for big bucks,” said Schindler. “The organization has people from all over, and all walks of life.”
This is the third year the event has been held at the Queens Theater, and attendance for the show continues to grow because the society makes a special effort to make sure the show is easy to get to.
“The Queens Theater has been very good to us,” said Schindler. “We arrange for a shuttle bus taking families to and from the theater and that helps get a lot of people to come out for the show. There is also free parking, which is a plus. We are doing our part to bring the joy of magic to everyone.”
That’s a core part of the group mission, according to Schindler.
“Every year, since the organization was started, it has been about the preservation of magic and bringing it to the people,” he said.
SAM’s Parent Assembly Number 1 is the founding chapter of the Society of American Magicians, formed in 1902 in the back room of the famed Martinka Magic Shop in Midland Park, N.J., to enhance fellowship among magicians and promote the art of magic in general. The organization’s membership includes not only professionals but also amateur magicians, manufacturers of magic equipment, collectors, and historians, as well as interested laypeople.
This year’s Salute to Magic will be emceed by comedian-magician Denny Haney, and feature performances by comic illusionists Scott and Puck, magician Alexander Boyce, and juggler Will Shaw, who specializes in audience participation.
Tickets are $50 and are available on the Queens Theater website (queen
Prior to show time, SAM Parent Assembly 1 will provide free shuttle bus service from the 7 train Mets-Willets Point station.