Jimmy Ichihana Deals Close-Up Card Magic and Tales of Humanity in ‘It’s in the Cards’ at Liberty Magic

By Jessica Neu

Renowned magician Jimmy Ichihana used to be a math teacher. I am a writer who failed math in high school and took “Physics for Poets” as my science elective in undergrad. I’m pretty confident that if I had Mr. Ichihana as my high school math teacher, I would have not only passed but maybe even earned an A and definitely known my way around a card table at a Casino.

Jimmy Ichihana | Trust photo

Having appeared twice on the hit TV show Penn and Teller: Fool Us, Ichihana brings his show, It’s in the Cards, to Liberty Magic. Performing through August 13, Ichihana delights with charisma and a smile that makes you forget he’s deceiving you. It’s in the Cards combines quick tricks along with far more intricate close-up card magic tricks. Ichihana does a delightful job of weaving four metaphors into the show that he explains are embedded in the fabric of every good magic trick: imagination, collaboration, history, and connection.

Ichihana explains that magic is simply an extension of your child-like imagination and sense of wonderment. Any good magician asks themselves, “how can I imagine the impossible into the possible?”

Ichihana brings his imagination to life with tricks that integrate his love of math, the use of a child’s board game, and even photographs of his journeys through Pittsburgh. He explains how he has collaborated with colleagues and children over the years to learn from his peers and environment. Ichihana even collaborates with the audience as their choices help to dictate the course of the show. For this reason, you could see It’s in the Cards multiple times and likely see a different version of the show each time. His likable personality makes joining Ichihana on his journey through his imagination easy, and I’m confident he will transform some magic skeptics into believers.

Moving his way through the history metaphor, Ichihana shares stories of growing up in New York, relocating to Orlando, but then venturing to Madrid for a year to study magic under some of the greats who used the Spanish magic school of thought. Ichihana’s other historical influences include the classic book and previous residency at Liberty Magic, The Expert at the Card Table, and vaudeville historian Arthur Lloyd. The story about Llloyd is especially endearing as we are reminded that some magicians take their tricks to the grave, but that allows the next generation of magicians to reinterpret their magic. Ichihana proves his dedication to the history of magic as he impressively executes several tricks paying homage to his historical influences.

Ichihana concludes his performance by reminding us how humans are intrinsically connected. I realize the audience members who participated in these tricks are not clairvoyant. Still, it was pretty inspiring to see how Ichihana stealthily conducted the trick to represent the connection we share with one another. 

Lasting a cool 90 minutes, It’s in the Cards is the perfect escape from the summer heat or rain. You’ll leave with a renewed sense of child-like imagination and perhaps a desire to go to the casino and prove you really are not as bad at math as you once thought.


Performances of It’s in the Cards continue through August 13th at Liberty Magic in the Pittsburgh Cultural District.

Liberty Magic is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, for tickets visit: https://trustarts.org/production/83147/jimmy-ichihana-in-the-cards

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