The Bay Area is truly a magical destination. From award-winning beaches that will blow your mind to world-class dining options, and a blossoming arts scene. It was that awe and amazement that first led illusionists Chris and Ryan Zubrick, the founders of Zubrick Magic Theatre in the heart of St. Petersburg, to the area.
“In St. Pete, not only did we love the local community but there was a market here for family entertainment, family-friendly entertainment, that wasn’t available to anybody before,” Chris said. “It was very easy for us to build a theater here and we did it from the ground up.”
Since they opened July 2021, the duo has dazzled thousands and performed a myriad of illusions in front of sold-out crowds. It was important for them to let their show serve as an escape from everyday life in these times.
“We still as adults go through our mundane day-to-day lives and we don’t stop and experience or acknowledge the wonder around us,” he added. “So, it is our job as illusionists to awaken that childlike wonder in all of us and bring us back to experiencing the impossible.”
While the Zubricks are new to town, they are anything but new to the art of Magic. The future partners wouldn’t meet until later in life, but both grew up passionate about the industry. For Chris, it was a magic trick in the bottom of his cereal box that ignited the flame that magic was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. To six-year-old Ryan, it was a magic set that he received from his grandparents. “ I was just hit by the magic bug and it never really went away,” Ryan said. “I remember recording the David Copperfield TV specials when they would come on and watching them over and over again until the VHS tape would break.”
Ryan and Chris both studied the legends of the magic industry and admired the greatest illusionists of all time. One of Ryan’s favorites was Lance Burton and he had the pleasure of winning a nationwide contest sponsored by the Kellogg’s Company. In 1997, the Razzle Dazzle Search For Magic Kids sent an 11-year-old youngster and his family on an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas. “I, myself, and five other kids were chosen throughout the nation,” he said. “We all performed and competed on Lance Burton’s Stage at the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino. That was just an amazing experience at 11 and solidified that this is more than just a hobby for me and I’m halfway decent at it. I’ve seen his show many, many, many other times and really love his classic style.”
While Ryan used that as a jumping-off point, Chris didn’t let his passion and perseverance deter him from his dream of gracing massive stages, performing for thousands, and showcasing his artistry. Many people told him to go to college, get a degree, and have a fallback plan. That fell on deaf ears, there was no college for magic.
“I had something to fall back on, there’s a chance that I would use that as a crutch and I would fall back on that,” he said. “So I wanted to pursue magic head-on without a safety net, and it is literally taken Ryan and me around the world, and it’s been spectacular.”
Each would perform independently for family gatherings and friends and started doing small paid gigs. Then in 2005, they met when event coordinators unknowingly double booked them for the same event. Instead of fighting over the spotlight, they both showed up and put their two shows together last minute, and the rest is history.
An Act is Formed
Chris was performing comedy magic and Ryan was doing more smooth manipulation. Together, they were doing grand scale illusions. It was a different type of magic than most were doing in the area with close-up street magic featuring cards and coins. Their yin and yang relationship worked, not just on the stage but off.
“We like the grand scale, theatrical acts of performing on stage, so we connected on that level,” Chris said. “Ryan really enjoys the technical theater aspect and I really enjoyed the marketing and being the voice and the people person. I’m more of an extrovert Ryan’s more of an introvert. So it’s just it was kind of that blend that made it work well together.”
“I don’t feel like we ever had a moment of like, okay, how are we going to put our shows together,” Ryan added. “When we say we didn’t fight for a spotlight, like we literally didn’t. It just worked and it was effortless.”
After touring the United States, an online ad looking for performers overseas would see the pair spend seven and a half years in Saipan, the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Western Pacific, and five years at a sister company on the island of Guam. Everything was wonderful until the COVID-19 pandemic closed the show in the March of 2020. With no tourism and no flights going in, that meant no show, so relocating to the U.S. was a no-brainer.
“We traveled West Coast to East Coast, visiting several popular travel destinations and tourist spots and when we pulled through St. Pete, we knew almost instantly that this was going to be the place that we wanted to move our show and build our theater,” Chris said. “We were welcomed by the vibrant arts community. It’s very LGBT-friendly. There’s plenty of tourism and no Michigan winters. So that was very important for us.”
Zubrick Theatre Comes to Life
When the pandemic, hit and the Zubrick’s were cruising through St. Petersburg, not only did they fall in love with the area, but they noticed something was missing. The nearest magic venue was nearly two hours north in the Kissimmee/Orlando area, in the shadows of one of the most famous entertainment venues in the world. So, what did they do, they built their own and were hands-on in every detail of the process. The pair didn’t want to just create another magic show, or another theater, they wanted to create an experience.
“We were picking out carpet and all the light fixtures,” Ryan noted. “We assembled all the chairs ourselves, we swagged the curtains and programmed the lights. We did hire architects to help with some of the mechanical and things like that, but we were super hands-on with that as well. We even have a scent machine in the theater that touches on all the senses.”
The process has definitely been a journey for Chris and Ryan Zubrick, but seeing their name on their own magic theater, makes it all worth it. “The word show business is two words, and which one of those is the larger word, business right?” Chris asked. “So, we spend a great deal of time and energy and resources on the business aspect of it, but it isn’t till the end of the night, when we get to do this smaller word, the word show, that we really get to reap the reward and relax and just be ourselves and just have fun.”
Their sold-out audiences have felt that energy and have had fun too. How could you not with a show that combines a mix of family-friendly comedy, sleight of hand, suspense, mind-reading, and mystery, as well as grand-scale illusions packed into a 70-minute performance? They say the outpouring of community support means the world to them.
“It is so warm and welcoming,” Chris said. “The community has come out in droves to support us, whether it’s behind the scenes, you know helping out with aspects of the business or patronage, the house was full. We’ve had people from as far as New York, Miami, you know, local St. Pete community, they’ve come from all over, heard about us through many different channels, and their five-star reviews online are incredible.”
Shows are Thursday through Saturday at 7:00 P.M.
General tickets are $40 plus taxes and fees and their VIP package includes reserved premium, front-row seating for two people, two complimentary beverages, one complimentary popcorn, and a special gift is $137 plus taxes and fees.
In addition, Zubrick Magic Theater is now available to book corporate events and holiday parties, so if you want to make your CEO disappear, now is the time! To purchase tickets and learn more about the show visit https://www.zubrickmagic.com and follow them on social media @ZubrickMagic.
Zubrick Theatre Details
📍 1211 1st Ave. N. Suite 101, St. Petersburg, FL 33705
📅 Box Office: Thursday-Saturday 6:00pm-8:30pm
Performance: Thursday-Saturday 7:00pm