Eric Jones surprises a volunteer at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's event on Liberty Magic. Photo by Tracy Certo

Over the past 34 years, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has brought modern theater, art house cinema and sketch comedy to Downtown.

For their next trick: a BYOB performance space with less than 70 seats dedicated to the art of sleight of hand and prestidigitation. The aptly named Liberty Magic, the only venue dedicated to magic in Pittsburgh, will open in February in the space of the former Arcade Theater on Liberty Avenue.

Members of the media previewed some of the acts at an event in the Cultural District — and they were amazed and enthralled by the four highly entertaining and masterful magicians.

Lee Terbosic wowed the crowd with his sleight-of-hand magic. Photo by Tracy Certo.

“Liberty Magic is a perfect activation of the intimate storefront at 811 Liberty Avenue,” says Scott Shiller, the Trust’s VP of artistic planning and producer for Liberty Magic.

“We are excited to see our expertise in the Pittsburgh arts community fuse with the art of closeup magic advanced by world-class magicians.”

The first regular show at Liberty Magic will be Impossible by Eric Jones, a six-week run of performances where “coins will multiply” and “cards will fly.”

Along with Shiller and the rest of the Cultural Trust team, the theater has also hired two seasoned illusionists — Lee Terbosic and Dennis Watkins — to serve as artistic advisors.

“The idea of bringing a magic-only venue to the city of Pittsburgh has been a dream of mine since I was 20-years-old,” said Terbosic at the media event on Monday. “I never thought this was actually going to happen.”

The fact that he has a home to bring in other magicians and to show these guys off on stage is very cool, he added. In addition to his advising role, the Pittsburgh-based magician will debut his 60-minute sleight of hand showcase on March 20.

The theater sits only a few blocks from where Harry Houdini escaped from a straight jacket while suspended high above Liberty Avenue in 1916, a feat Terbosic recreated for the stunt’s 100-year anniversary.

Organizers say the theater will favor an intimate, BYOB speakeasy atmosphere. All the acts will be recommended for viewers over 18, and no magic lover under 12 will be admitted. Cocktail and party attire are highly encouraged, but not required.

Seating is general admission, priced at $40 per ticket. Performances will run Wednesday through Sunday with a special Skeleton Key VIP Experience for $65.

Dennis Watkins performs a mystifying feat with a simple piece of string that leaves the audience speechless. Photo by Tracy Certo.

That experience “unlocks the first two rows in our intimate theater, a chance to become part of the performance (if you wish) and an exclusive meet and greet with the artist after the show, which includes private, close-up mysteries,” says the Trust.

The theater also offers space for private groups and special occasions. Student, corporate, and group sales discounts are available for select performances. Visit to learn more.

Patrons are encouraged to bring their own beer, wine, cocktails, or soft drinks to sip on. There is a $5 per guest corkage fee.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.