Written by Elizabeth Ann Foster
Doors opened at 6 p.m. and fear of not finding the Secret Room, an off-Broadway speakeasy supper club, drove us early to the theater. What a gem of a space to find. It felt more Austin than New York City, perhaps because of the tourist across from me from Texas. The staff was pleasant and attentive.
Eric Walton, magician and mentalist, is Master of Ceremonies and launched the show by correctly guessing audience members’ favorite colors, foods and even best childhood friend’s names. He was edgy with a quick wit. After writing down the answers on a large pad he gave the sheets to the various audience participants, offering to sign it after the show as it was theirs to “keep and cherish.” People were asked by Walton to be specific with their choices. For food they had to see it, smell it, and recreate what it was like to eat. With each correct answer Walton gave you could hear a collective gasp in the audience.
A break in all the mental gymnastics was offered up by artist Ellie Steingraeber who proceeded to do things with her body that made most feel pain even if she did not, and surely required her to take an Advil the next morning.
When Walton introduced the America’s Master Mentalist Jon Stetson who has been in the White House 5 times but, “not for this f*cking president” he gratuitously mused, the Texan across from me was not amused.
Stetson is a master.
A few gentile eyebrows were raised at times by how Stetson poked fun. Asking a woman her name he said “that’s my dog’s middle name.” Other comments were more in keeping with spirit of the evening. He told a volunteer that he probably experienced mental insights when he recognized a caller before he picked up a phone because he had caller ID.
The single most impressive feat of the evening came when a mother and daughter demonstrated how connected they were. Stetson touched the daughter on her arm and nose while both had eyes closed. Afterwards the mother stated Stetson had in fact touched her on the arm and nose pointing to the exact places Stetson had just touched the daughter. He was nowhere near the mother. She just felt her daughter’s responses.
With that the show ends and the audience is reminded that his name was Jon Stetson and he knows what your thinking. Watch a montage of shows here.
The Hidden Cabaret started its Monday night residency at the Secret Room on Eighth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen in November. Hopefully Completely Mental will become a regular part of the Monday night lineup. This would be an excellent venue for Tulis McCall’s Monologue & Madness, which also holds court on the first Monday of every month.
Completely Mental – produced by Patrick Terry
With – Eric Walton (Master of Ceremonies), Jon Stetson (Headliner) and Ellie Steingraeber (variety artist).
Hidden Cabaret (at The Secret Room) is Behind the Cooper Door at 707 8th Avenue, between 44th and 45th Streets. COMPLETELY MENTAL is one night only Monday February 24, 2020 begins at 7 pm with doors open at 6 pm. Tickets range from $20-$50 and there is a $20 food/drink minimum. http://www.hiddencabaret.comFor tickets and more information, go to www.hiddencabaret.com Runtime is 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.