Borrowing the words of American poet Ogden Nash, multi-tasking MC Sam Urdang made one thing clear to his audience at 17 Wyckoff Road in Bushwick on the night of Saturday, September 24th:  “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker!”  True, a few songs may have been written about the joys of candy throughout the years… but it’s a safe bet that many, many more were written about the pleasures of liquor! Many of these songs– but more importantly, the inebriated spirit(s) (ahem…) behind them– are brought to vivid life in Cocktail Magique, the phenomenal new interactive performance piece by Company XIV created and directed by Austin McCormick.  The decadent vibe and the fashions sensibilities of the show are clearly influenced, at least in part, by the 1920’s: the era of prohibition.   After all, how can we make something even more alluring and seductive than it already is? Make it… FORBIDDEN!  (FYI, it wasn’t candy that was banned in the 20’s…) Yes, kids, this lush (ahem again…)  show is all about the uninhibited, unPROHIBited pleasures of booze– although this glossy piece is clearly more “Champagne Taste” than “beer bottle pockets”.  Even the most tightly wound of teetotalers will be intoxicated by this two-hour love potion of sights and sounds.  As with all of Company XIV’s previous productions, Cocktail Magique features some of the sexiest, most talented performers in New York City the world, giving the audience a mix of exquisite comedy, song, burlesque, pageantry, and choreography– all patently for adults only.  Leading this circus of the stars is our ringmaster Sam, who can also add “quick change artist” to his resume: This vaudevillian of vice boasted at least five costume changes in the show’s first five minutes (More about the costumes later…)   And this was just the intro!  

In addition to the aforementioned pure talent, the cast and creative team of Company XIV are constantly finding new ways to titillate and surprise their audiences.  In Cocktail Magique, the experience begins before the first lyric is sang, the first article of clothing is shed, or MC Sam utters his first (Oh,) Dad(dy!) joke.  For starts, there’s the newly designed performance space itself, which evokes the most elite and fantastical of vintage speakeasies.  The cocktail menu features such libations such as “Fortune Teller” and “Smoke and Mirrors”. Complete with sensual glow and atmospheric fog, the setting is sexy, hypnotic, and inviting… but there’s also a tantalizing aura of the verboten pleasures lying ahead. The intimate (62 seats only) space was custom made for this new production, and it really delivers.  Every detail– from the intricate placement of the lighting, to the set pieces, to the shiny and oh-so-kitschy ornaments decorating the space– seem meticulously chosen and lovingly arranged with painstaking attention.  Attendees even have the option of choosing the “Magique Love Couch” designed for two, perfect for facilitating romance.  That “intimacy” mentioned earlier comes in handy when the literal “magique” of the show’s name comes into place.  Everyone in the audience is close enough to see the impressive prestidigitation up close and personal… and trust me, even the most hardened of New York City skeptics will be spellbound, especially with the truly extraordinary “final act”.

But Cocktail Magique is made for sipping, not chugging– so let’s not jump ahead.  The “How did he do that?” magic tricks, most courtesy of MC Sam, are only one of the impressive things in Company XIV’s new show.  There are many, many more. One lovely performer (Kylie Webb) flawlessly walks across a row of erect champagne bottles, while performing a tantalizing striptease to the perfectly chosen Hitting that Bottle by Woody Herman. At the risk of sounding cliched, it must be seen to be believed. Webb returns for some jaw-dropping, seemingly gravity-defying aerial hoop magic later on.  The must-be-seen-to-be-believed aura continues with Mia Victoria Preisser as a stunning mermaid (performing to Cab Calloway’s The Mermaid Song), whose mythical allure could cause more than just a little ocean turbulence. The lovely Syrena entered with the eternal classic Love Potion #9 before segueing into the finest of the art of belly dancing.  There are no animal acts in this sexy circus, but we do get sword swallowing by Gin Minsky… topped off, of course, with a cherry.  “Astonishing” is the only word that can be used.  One deliciously bizarre number features Minsky again, tap dancing in a “bucket of chicken” costume to the campy musical chestnut A Chicken Ain’t Nothing but a Bird. It’s as irresistible as…well, a bucket of fried chicken with ice cream for dessert. Rounding out the fine cast are Amy Jo Jackson, Chelsey Ng, and Scott Schneider.

This may be a good time to give a shout out to Zane Pihlström for Costume & Scenic Design.  As with the ultra-stylized design of the venue, the costumes are no less than spectacular, with great attention to detail. Mia Victoria Preisser’s Cleopatra costume, as one example, is more dazzling than the entire Met Gala put together. 

Like the endless stream of cocktails, the thrills in Cocktail Magique come left, right, and (ahem x3…) below the belt.  Connecting the seemingly infinite talent together is the magic and comedy skills (and juggling also, lest we forget…) of MC Sam Urdang.  It’s the combined forces of Sam and his lovely, oh-so-hardworking chanteuse Em Stockwell (Wait until you hear her hit those notes with such musical baubles as Peel Me a Grape.) that make the show really come together.  Like a Sexy Steve and Seedy Eydie, their combined flavor profile is perfect. By the time it’s “last call” at Company XIV’s newest show, you WILL believe in this “magique”!

Company XIV’s Cocktail Magique continues previews on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with Opening Night on Friday, October 7, 2022.  Tickets are $145 and include a selection of delicious cocktails and small bites. Lovers seeking the pinnacle of bespoke romance may opt for a Magique Luxe Couch for Two ($595), featuring a specially seductive succession of aphrodisiac potions and treats, plus the optional privilege of the Fortune Teller Upgrade (+$200) which boasts a private Tarot reading by Chelsey Ng and a keepsake limited edition tarot deck by Salvadore Dalí. The venue is located at 17 Wyckoff Avenue, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Admission is limited to patrons age 21 and up. Take the L train to Jefferson Street.  For tickets and more information visit

The Cast includes Sam Urdang, Amy Jo Jackson, Chelsey Ng, Mia Victoria Preisser, Scott Schneider, Em Stockwell, Syrena, Kylie Rose, Gin Minsky. Creative team: Austin McCormick (Creator & Director), Zane Pihlström (Costume & Scenic Design), Sarah Cimino (Makeup Design), Kenneth Griffin (Hair Design), Brian Tovar (Lighting Design), and Kevin Heard (Sound Design). 

Photos by Deneka Peniston, Alex Sargeant, and Curtis Brown.

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