New Wizardz Magical Dinner Theater to Open in Japan
July 7th, 2000 will mark the official opening of the new Wizardz Magical Dinner Theater in Urayasu-Shi, Chiba-Ken, Japan. This second Wizardz, located adjacent to an upscale tourist destination, Tokyo’s Disneyland, (much as it’s prototype, the original Wizardz, is situated at Universal’s “City Walk” in Los Angeles) will feature the successful formulae established at the flagship operation.
The premier bill is composed of Vito Lupo, Jonathan Neil and Liane, with Jody Baron and Kathleen to close. Jonathan Neil, Director of Entertainment for Wizardz, spoke with Magic Times about the new venture.
“The Wlzardz format calls for a manipulative opening turn, a talking or comedy performer and an illusionist. The opening roster consists of three very seasoned acts who are comfortable in all circumstances. In inaugurating a new room and performance space I wanted to use magicians who would not be thrown off by a staging glitch or by inexperienced wait staff. Although every effort will of course be made to insure that all preparations have been attended to, in a ‘shakedown cruise’ there are inevitably details overlooked; systems that don’t operate as anticipated. By commencing with acts that can rise to any occasion I can better assure a superb show at this very critical opening time.” Wizardz performers are booked for a two month run, appearing seven days a week, two shows each day, with up to 16 shows per week (some matinees may be presented). The cast will be rounded out with a local Master of Ceremonies and local close-up performers. Jonathan noted that his involvement in Tokyo will enable him to scout for fresh talent in Japan to bring back to Los Angeles.
“Originally, we planned to bring in just two American acts and fill in with Japanese performers. Our Japanese parmers (the Tokyo Wizardz is owned by Wizardz parent company Magicians and Alchemists Guild, Inc. in conjunction with a group of Japanese investors) requested that we bring in an all American magic show. In the far east, anything western is considered exotic. This is one reason why Wizardz expansion plans have been focused in Asia rather than Europe although we are developing plans to open additional Wizardz in other parts of the world.”
“Initially, the second Wlzardz was slated to open in Jakarta, Indonesia. We were 95% completed when political upheavals there made it impractical. We shifted our sights to Japan. The Japanese have a high level of discretionary disposable income. The dinner theater is situated in an area called Ikspiari (Inspiring Experience) developed by the Disney people. We believe the proximity to the airport, downtown Tokyo and Disneyland make it an excellent location.”
“The dinner theater itself is somewhat smaller than our California operation. It will have seating for 150 to 175. There will however be additional dining facilities as well as a patio area. The menu in Japan will contain more high end selections than in California; the Tokyo location will present more of a fine dining experience than we do in Los Angeles.” An on site magic shop will sell souvenirs in addition to close-up, parlor tricks and magic sets. There will also be more advanced items available for the connoisseur and aficionado.
Jonathan began his association with Wizardz as a performer. “I’ve known Fred Wood, president of Wizardz, for many years. My new role as Director of Entertainment is a great opportunity for Fred to concentrate on developing the Wizardz concept and expansion plans. As Director of Entertainment I can utilize skills I’ve acquired from my performing career. I will be coordinating programs for the original Wizardz, the new Japanese facility and future installations.” Jonathan will oversee budgeting, hiring, payroll and stage management operations for the entertainment aspects of the clubs.”In Japan, there are not many places to see live magic. Most people see magic on TV. Wizardz provides a novel way for them to experience the thrill and immediacy of an actual, real time magic show just a few feet away while enjoying an upscale fine dining experience. We expect the Japanese public to react very favorably to Wizardz.”
–Richard Steven Cohn
Richard Steven Cohn has written for Genii, Magicol, M.U.M., The Yankee Collector, MAGIC, as well as magic themed articles for Brooklyn Bridge Magazine and Stagebill. He is a magical consultant for television and theater and performs both as a single and with his wife Alexandra.