By Tori Hahn
Among the colorful galleries, mariachi bands and Mexican restaurants that line the streets of Old Town lies the well-hidden Red Spade Theater, tucked away on Congress Street between a wine bar and a jewelry store.
Sebastian Figueroa, who goes by his stage name of Sebastian, opened the Red Spade Theater almost five years ago to create a cozy venue for magic.
The show’s title, “Intimate Miracles,” epitomizes the theater’s ambiance. The small room with just 28 seats welcomes its audience with dim lighting, dark red walls and soft jazz music.
Dan Thomas opened the show with a card trick and a round of jokes that warmed up the crowd to the theater’s conversational tone.
“The Red Spade Theater is here for the preservation of magic and up-close magic,” Thomas said.
Sebastian took the stage — or more accurately, a spot at the front of the room — after Thomas.
Throughout his performance, Sebastian regularly engaged the spectators. He often asked them to join him on stage to help with the illusions, to which the audience members hesitantly left their seats and their dates’ sides to participate.
The magician used a combination of playing cards, music, coins, dice and plastic balls to make the audience fall under his spell. Viewers became so involved that by the end of the show they openly voiced their incredulity at Sebastian’s tricks.
The onlookers craned their necks so they wouldn’t miss a moment in the 90-minute performance.
Sebastian picked up magic as a hobby 24 years ago. It wasn’t until somebody told him he was proficient enough to perform for money that he decided to turn it into a career. He blended his favorite type of magic, sleight-of-hand magic, with storytelling to create the intimate atmosphere at the Red Spade Theater.
“I figured you could go to Vegas and see big illusions, you could turn on the TV and see big illusions, but there’s not a venue for close-up-style magic,” he said.
“There’s nothing like it in Southern California.”
Sebastian’s favorite part about performing at the Old Town theater is being able to share his love of magic with his audience. But, like all magicians, Sebastian refused to reveal his secrets.
Sebastian performs “Intimate Miracles” at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays to audience members 16 and older. Tickets can be purchased online through the theater’s website, redspadetheater.com, for $34.
For children 5 and older, the theater brings in a guest magician to perform one Sunday every month. “Family Magic Show” tickets are priced $14 — $18.
—Tori Hahn is an intern with SDCNN and a senior majoring in journalism at San Diego State University.