The Maho Magic Bar itself is just as magical as the contents inside.
Hidden via a narrow alleyway in Melbourne’s Chinatown and created by Broad Encounters, Maho Magic Bar is the type of place that you’d only find if you know where to look.
Walking through the alleyway, I felt the path open-up and unexpectedly met with a friendly bar tender who eagerly chirped an introduction to the event that I was about to witness. After all, this experience is truly unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Maho Magic Bar is essentially a pop-up bar that consists of delicious drinks, a friendly talented cast, and jaw-dropping close-up magic. From the moment you set your eyes upon it, you are entranced by how stunning the venue exterior looks with all its colourful neon signs, enticing you to enter.
A playlist of catchy Japanese tunes including songs from my favourite J-Pop group ARASHI, set the mood while we waited for our session to start. With tables available to park at outside the Maho Magic Bar venue, patrons were welcome to purchase drinks at the outdoor bar before heading inside.
Not long after settling in a spot as the number of patrons grew, I was approached by the lovely Bella who provided special tickets that displayed the number and location that would be my place for the night. When we finally entered, I was already in awe of the paper lanterns that adorned the entrance alone.
Intimately lit and consisting of cherry blossom flowers, 5 bars and a centre table that can sit up to 12 people, Maho Magic Bar had me feeling like I’d been spirited away to a secret world where magic has no bounds. Seated at ‘Bar 2’, I was greeted by our first magician of the night, Shirayuri. Equipped with a smile that was contagious, a sukajan jacket (I was jealous because I’ve always wanted one and his jacket looked so nice), a superbly bubbly personality, and a deck of cards, it wasn’t long before Shirayuri had us stunned by his sleight of hand. But not before our lively, commanding, and excellent host Patrick Collins set the tone for the evening.
What I loved about Maho Magic Bar was how up-close and personal everything was. Your specific bar table will only have a handful of people alongside you taking in the same shared experience. This means that others in the same room seated elsewhere would be having a completely different experience to you. The show, consisting of four talented magicians, would have them rotate throughout the night, and you don’t need to move or do a thing. They all come to you. Our first magician Shirayuri was so delightfully entertaining that when it was time for him to switch, nobody at our bar wanted him to go.
Next up was Wambi, smartly dressed and ready to pounce on our disbelief. Not only was Wambi cheeky and severely intriguing but he was also very funny. With comic timing and a little bit of mischief, Wambi’s performance really surprised me as I never thought that magic could even be funny. Throughout the night, I found myself cackling or wide-eyed in astonishment of the magic I had seen unfold before my very eyes.
E.O.Lee appeared super trendy with his colourful hair, tartan attire, and dynamic energy. He showcased a card trick in a unique way that had me laughing but also still wondering how he did it. I’m still thinking about it!
Kawaii queen Kaori Kitazawa was quirky, cute, elegant, and masterful during every moment of Maho Magic Bar. Her magician’s outfit is also to die for! It was hard not to be impressed by her craft and I really wished we got to see more of her.
As well as the intimate bar table performances from each magician, there is also a main stage with performances for everyone to see. While there is a decent picking of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, there is also a special menu with magic tricks available for purchase and are performed on the main stage. I was lucky to witness ‘Ippan Knock Out’, ‘Call Their Bluff’, ‘Prison Break’, and ‘It’s All Just Sweet Hot Air’.
Each show has a limited run time of an hour so there’s be no way to witness all the special-order magic tricks, that is unless you go more than once. Although, considering that someone’s experience would be completely different to yours during the same session at a different bar table, I can only imagine just how unique and magical every visit would be. Just make sure to ask the kind Bella to sit you at a different table upon your return.
Maho Magic Bar had me blissfully enchanted from start to finish. Time moved so quickly that when the show was ending, I didn’t want it to. If only extending our time at Maho Magic Bar was also a part of the special menu! This experience is perfect to attend whether it be with a group of friends, on a date, with family (family friendly sessions are available), or even on your own.
No matter the occasion, or even just to make a normal night special, the cast of Maho Magic Bar are more than willing to help you smile and make you feel welcome. The best part about it is that for those like me that love to document our experiences, you can film and take photos as much as you like! If you want a photo with the cast after the show, just ask them as they are more than happy to oblige.
I also really appreciated the Joe Hisaishi music at the very end of the performance which had me feeling not only happy and entertained, but emotional and very moved. I really hope that this Melbourne visit isn’t the last time Maho Magic Bar comes to our city. My only regret is that I’m so used to getting a program book from a show as a memento, that when I realised a program book wasn’t available, I didn’t think to try pick something else to take home with me. But I guess that just gives me an excuse to go again!
We loved Maho Magic Bar! The talent that the cast have is insane and the passion that they have for magic is infectious.
Maho Magic Bar made me miss Japan. With a dash of Japanese culture, an abundance of magic, and a lot of heart, this wonderful little establishment is a must-visit place before it disappears just as mysteriously as it came. Maho Magic Bar is pure joy, exquisitely charming, genuinely enchanting, and is made for those that relish in dreams and the odd little secret miracles.
Maho Magic Bar currently playing in Melbourne until October 31st.
For more information, location, and ticketing, visit:
Photography by Mike King, Peter Wallis, and Kate Prendergast.