November 19, 2013

MAGIC Magazine Raves!

by Chris Philpott

CATEGORIES:
400th-Show-magic-photo

On the evening of October 19, Ivan Amodei celebrated his 400th show at the uber-posh Beverly Wilshire hotel. Part of the genius of the location is that the magic begins long before the show starts. It starts as you drive past the shops of Rodeo Drive toward the historic hotel and intensifies as you enter its gilded doors and walk past the grand staircase where Richard Gere fell in love with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. The spell cast by this place is palpable — it’s no accident that the word “glamour” comes from “grimoire,” a book of magical incantations.

Ever since the show opened on December 11, 2010, the magic continues on Friday and Saturday nights in the sumptuous 100-seat room, where the beautiful Irina Chirkova plays Vivaldi on the cello. And the magic builds as Amodei comes out onstage in an Armani tux and Piaciotti shoes — with a bag over his head.

Blowing-Candles-400th

Wait — what?

One of the charming things about Ivan is the way he harnesses the seductive trappings of luxury while not taking himself too seriously. I can imagine unrelieved devotion to elegance by a polished performer with movie-star good looks could come off as too perfect by half. But Ivan is a disarming, likable performer who lets the sumptuous elements work for him without seeming like he has a snobby bone in his body.

He presents himself an immigrant kid who dreamt of putting on a show, and dreamt big. This show is not merely located in old Hollywood, it is old Hollywood. How can you help but get sucked in?

Amodei has a great sense of routining and a relentless desire to find the deeper meaning in his effects. In his water-to-wine routine (which he presented on Arsenio recently), he doesn’t shy away from referencing Jesus and, in fact, builds the themes into a “creation of life” goldfish production, all while keeping a light, elegant tone.

Or consider his presentation of an effect in which he predicts the serial number on a borrowed bill. In some way this effect is terrific, so powerful and so impossible, yet in other ways, it’s not so good — it’s hard to build a routine around it, it lacks suspense and surprise, and it’s so impossible it almost leads to giving away its method by cognitive default. But Amodei builds it into a marvelous routine that taps into the strengths of the effect while avoiding its weaknesses. He makes a big show of the fairness of the bill’s selection and the way it is placed on a thin retractable rod with clip high above a spectator’s head.

He then introduces laminated number cards, using them first to do a spectator divination routine that builds to a Sympathetic card routine. As a kicker, he claims to have predicted the exact order into which the spectator would shuffle the number cards — Amodei pulls out a sealed FedEx envelope from which he unfolds a banner that stretches across the stage, revealing a number — but the number doesn’t match the order of the cards! Only then does our attention turn back to the woman in the audience holding the bill. She reads off the serial number and it matches perfectly. The audience erupts into applause.

The sold-out 400th show milestone was celebrated with champagne and cake after-party.

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October 26, 2013

Ivan on the Arsenio Hall Show

by The Arsenio Hall Show

Ivan on Arsenio Hall Show

Ivan appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show on October 4th, 2013 and performed one of his favorite illusions from his show Intimate Illusions.

October 20, 2013

Pure Entertainment!

by Peter Freeman DC Outlook Magazine

CATEGORIES:
Ivan-&-Irina

Parlor magic. Sleight of hand. One could argue that you see it every day in the political capital of the world; but I’m referring to the magical variety… the kind you discover in places like Las Vegas or Monte Carlo. As much as DC has to offer, sometimes you have to bring in a third party. That was the case this past weekend, as the Mayflower Hotel played host to The Magic of Ivan Amodei: Intimate Illusions… 90 minutes of pure entertainment, delivered by the unofficial king of Beverly Hills.

The Sicilian-born Amodei performed a total of five shows over two days… the last of which, my brother Brian and I were lucky enough to attend last night. There was a palpable energy in the room before Amodei and cellist Irina Chirkova entered the room. Brian & I sat front row center… just itching to be part of the act. Once on stage, Amodei took control of the room, performing one amazing illusion after another. Best of all, he made sure to incorporate his sold-out audience in every aspect of the show.

That included John and Sean, two guys from the opposite side of the front row. John was up first, nervously joining Ivan on stage. How nervous? Just seconds in, he felt obliged to move his wallet from his front to back pocket! Thankfully, Amodei was only interested in loose change (acquired from various members of the audience.) After blindfolding himself, Ivan went on to astound John, Sean and everyone in attendance with an uncanny display of “guessing.” I was sitting less than five feet away; yet I couldn’t begin to tell you how he does it.

There were other illusions, $20 bills for the taking, card tricks, number games, and even Houdini’s Escape (no keys necessary, Ivan uses a bottle of pins) with each one drawing oohs, aahs and laughter; but what made this show extra special, was Amodei’s unrivaled charm and showmanship. It takes a special sort of person to ask a complete stranger for their Social Security number or how much money they have in their checking account. He may not be good with names, but Ivan has a way with people. 90 minutes literally flies by… so much so, that I was genuinely disappointed when the evening came to an end.

Chirkova, who plays alongside Celine Dion in Las Vegas, adds beauty and perfectly placed harmonies to Amodei’s well-timed, seamless act. The candlelit atmosphere oozes style, and you can’t help but feel classy without the unnecessary trappings of trying to impress. It’s an easy audience to be part of. It has an adult feel, but Ivan plays clean (I counted at least two pre-teens in the crowd.) Forever the crowd favorite, Ivan personally greets each and every guest at the end of the show.

Amodei returns home to Beverly Hills, where he routinely plays to sold-out shows at the luxurious Beverly Wilshire Hotel (remember Pretty Woman?) He celebrates his third anniversary there, next month. As for his newfound faithful in the nation’s capital (myself included) we’ll be waiting with bated breath for his next visit.

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