Magic in Old Forge: Leon Etienne 6-week residency at The Strand


OLD FORGE, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — The world renowned magician and Utica native, Leon Etienne, will return to central New York this summer for a 6-week residency of his Magic Rocks Show at the Strand Theatre in Old Forge.

The Strand opened in 1923, and like other local businesses, struggled during the pandemic. Etienne hopes to bring people, and money, to a place he remembers from his childhood. He once dreamed of performing a show on that stage.

” We teamed up to try and help each other out, to tell you the truth,” Etienne said.

“The pandemic hit everyone hard. It especially hit the strand hard. Proceeds from the show will go to benefit them directly. It’s a welcome thing. The one thing I’ve never had in my career that I’ve always wanted to check off was a residency here in central New York, and because Bob and Helen took a risk we’re able to make that happen this summer.”

“One day there was a message on the office phone saying he wanted to run this idea by us about doing a residency,” Bob Card, co-owner of the Strand Theatre, recalled when Etienne approached him with the idea. “We were looking like, yeah, that could be an interesting idea. If there’s ever a year to do something different and reinvent yourself a bit, it’s this one.”

This local theatre has enough turnover and tourism to support a residency like Etienne’s. He has traveled the world performing on shows like America’s Got Talent, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Penn and Teller Fool Us. Central New York is home, though. Etienne was born and raised in Utica.

Etienne explains the partnership as a “big risk” for both himself and the theater, but he is hopeful the community will support a live, local show. Cord just hopes that those who do come out to the show have a good time.

“It’s all about creating good experiences and good memories for people, so that’s the main outcome we hope to see from having the show here,” Card said.

The Magic Rocks Show will run through August. More information can be found on

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