When Chris and Ryan Zubrick bought the nondescript AAA building at 1211 1st Avenue North, and spent tremendous amounts of time and money transforming it into a state-of-the-art theater, they weren’t entirely sure what was going to happen.
“Before we opened, we stayed up all night wondering ‘Are people going to come?’” Ryan Zubrick said. “But I think we’ve been pleasantly surprised; it has exceeded expectations. The response from the community has been great.”
The Zubricks are professional illusionists, multiple award-winners, who spent more than 13 years performing on the islands of Saipan and Guam. Because they’re Americans, homesickness eventually got the better of them, and they relocated to St. Petersburg – a location that had never previously been on their collective radar.
Once they found it, they knew it was the place to debut the Zubrick Magic Theatre.
They’ve been playing their family-friendly magical trade since August (here’s our original story), and as the all-important holiday season settles in (tourist dollars and all) both Zubricks says the experiment has been a resounding success.
“We’re still leaning the marketing and the seasonality of St. Pete,” Chris Zubrick explained. “October through December’s been great. We’ve picked up a lot of groups, a lot of holiday parties. Birthday parties have come in for exclusive shows, which has been very nice.”
Most shows in the intimate (90 seat) venue are sellouts; there’s now a fourth night (Wednesdays) on the schedule, and a smattering of weekend matinees. The performances lasts for 70 minutes, with no intermission.
“During meet ‘n’ greet,” Ryan said, “we often ask people how they heard about us. And we get people from all over the country that are visiting – or somehow found out about us.”
The show, they both report, has changed in several ways from those early, uncertain days at summer’s end.
“It’s always a work in progress,” Chris said.
Added Ryan: “We like to know what our audience likes, ‘cause that’s the goal. We’re here to entertain them. When you buy a ticket, you get a post-show survey in your email after the show, and you can say what you liked … we take all that and tally it up, see what people’s favorites are, see what people aren’t remembering as much, and tweak the show from there.”
There are new, holiday-related illusions, too. “We do have a lot of repeat customers, so it’s nice for them to keep it fresh, as well as for us,” Ryan said. “So they can see something new.”
The Zubricks’ 4-year-old son, Oliver, is an aspiring magician. He occasionally appears in the show’s finale.
“Every night, after we’ve picked him up from school, he’s in the living room performing,” Chris said, laughing. “Standing on the coffee table, ‘cause that’s his stage.”