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Mr. Messado, Jon Tai, and Hazard Spence Join forces to Conclude Liberty Magic’s ‘Spotlight on the Burgh’ with Poise, Talent, and Wonderment.

By JESSICA NEU

Liberty Magic’s Spotlight on the Burgh concludes its three-week run with a show featuring card tricks, sleight of hand, and mentalism from three magnificent magicians. Mr. Messado, Jon Tai, and Hazard Spence join forces to conclude Spotlight on the Burgh with poise, talent, and wonderment. 

Mr. Messado opens this show with a sleight-of-hand introduction that will shine a light on the rest of the show. Messado’s family show, Mr. Messado’s School of Magic, has become a staple at Liberty Magic over the past two years, and he approaches Spotlight on the Burgh with the same effortless coolness that he projects at his school of magic. 

After Messado’s introduction, Spence takes the stage to defy the odds in a series of seemingly impossible card tricks. Spence challenges the audience to a game of Three Card Monte, a classic game involving gambling. Spence warns audiences never to bet real money on the game, as they are guaranteed to lose. While no money was ponied up during Spence’s set, he shows audiences exactly why they will never win at this game. Audience members paid close attention as he meticulously yet stealthily moved the same three cards around the table, but as confident as we were in where the King card was amidst two fives, we were proven wrong every single time. Spence closes his set by introducing his sidekick, a toilet plunger only several inches in height. Still, Spence hilariously personifies the object as his entity and star of the show. With the help of two audience members, Spence somehow gives the plunger near psychic powers as he can find any card amidst a randomly shuffled deck. 

Spence’s tricks give way to Mr. Messado, who returns for his complete set. A master at sleight of hand magic, Messado makes objects appear, disappear, and then reappear, but never without “a snap of the fingers, a wave of the hand, and let’s never forget the magic wand.” There is no magic, of course, without the wave of the magic wand. Messado also shares his knowledge with the crowd, partially demonstrating how he quickly manipulates objects to make them appear as they vanish into thin air. Even with Messado’s very pragmatic explanation, he still makes it seem his manipulatives defy the laws of physics and gravity. 

After Mr. Messado’s smooth and sophisticated set, Jon Tai returns to Spotlight on the Burgh for a second week to highlight even more of his mentalist and psychological magic capabilities. Tai’s calm tone and inviting demeanor make you want to sit and have a drink with him while he tells you what you’re thinking at that moment. He again emphasizes the metaphor of the human connection, which he did so brilliantly in his 2022 residency at Liberty Magic. Tai explains that we encounter an average of 80,000 people throughout our lives. Out of those 80,000, we will learn the names of roughly 600 of them. Out of those 600, the ones with whom we form bonds, connections, or relationships are even more sacred. From there, Tai asks all audience members to stand up. Some of us filled out a card with a fun fact about someone we know. Others in the audience were asked to picture a fact about someone they know mentally. Tai singled out three audience members to mentally read their thoughts as we stood. Tai holds an oversized sketch pad and a black permanent marker to sketch the thoughts he picks up from the energy in the room. His hands move across the paper like an Ouija Board as he becomes entrenched in thought. The outcome of the trick is nothing short of incredible, as Tai’s dramatic finish is arguably the best of Spotlight’s three-week run. 

Mr. Messado closes the show with the renowned “Messado’s Rings.” This trick has taken Messado worldwide, and we are so grateful to have him in Pittsburgh to share this talent with local audiences. With the help of a genuinely amazed young audience member, Messado once again dazzles audiences by interlocking multiple circular rings so that they appear malleable yet impenetrable. 

If you have yet to make it to Spotlight on the Burgh, now is your chance. The closing week impresses and brings forth the importance of human connection, making you second guess even your strongest instincts. Although perhaps your intuition is correct, but with the “snap of a finger” and “the wave of a hand,” any thing is possible. Just “don’t forget the magic wand.” 

TICKETS AND DETAILS

Liberty Magic’s Spotligh on the Burg has three remaining chances to dazzle you. Saturday June 1 at 5 and 8 pm and Sunday June 2nd at 6:30 pm. Liberty Magic is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. For tickets visit: