by Peter Freeman DC Outlook Magazine
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.