Review: Jonathan Levit: Ahead of the Game – Black Rabbit Series Issue #5 – DVD

[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: John Teo” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Abril%20Fatface%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]“Ahead Of The Game” is a 2-DVD set on the close-up magic of Jonathan Levit.  Jonathan Levit is a skillful and clever American magician for both stage and close-up.  His forte is his high interaction with his audience.  His performances never fail to bring out loud gasps and laughter from the audience, indicating how much they enjoy and admire him and his magic.

This DVD set explains his close-up magic act at the Magic Castle in April 2014.

DVD No 1 contains 2 live performances for different audiences on the same evening at the Magic Castle.  For these 2 live shows, you can also switch on the commentary by Jonathan Levit himself.  When you watch the shows, you can see that how well Jonathan related with his audience, and how much the audience loved him.

In both his close-up acts, Jonathan had 2 lady spectators as assistants seated on both sides of his performance table.  He had 4 cards selected by 4 different people.  Jonathan then proceeded to divine the names of 2 of the selected cards.  He made the third card vanish from the deck and landed up on the chair where the lady spectator was seated!  He had this spectator chose and signed another card which was then lost in the deck.  Not only did Jonathan find this card, he also changed all cards in the deck from blue to red backs!  Finally, he had the card box magically changed colour from blue to red and passed it out for immediate examination!  That was his marketed product called C4 – a very visual change card box change.  An interesting version of triumph effect followed.

Jonathan then isolated the lady’s signed card by placing it in the mouth of a figurine.  Despite the fact that nobody could touch the card without being seem, this card magically changed into the fourth spectator’ selected card when it was taken out of the figurine’s mouth.  A straight-forward ACAAN effect followed, and then the faces of the entire deck became blanks.  Jonathan’s final effect was a coin matrix in which all the coins vanished in the end.  This is his “Un-Matrix” and is available as a marketed manuscript.

When you watch both of his live shows, you can see that his act was scripted.  Yet, there was enough room for his ad libs so that you can watch the second show and still find it delightfully different.  Similarly, even though you knew the effects from the first show, you will still find the second show as entertaining, and yet being none the wiser about how the various tricks were accomplished.  That speaks of how skillful Jonathan was as a performer.

DVD No 1 ends with a candid interview with Jonathan Levit by his magic friend Anthony Asimov.  Here you get to know how Jonathan was interested in magic because his father was a magician.  His dad was a specialist in woodwork and they produced customized magic wands known as the Levit Wands for sale all over the world.  Jonathan had a successful career as a TV host of both “Celebracadabra” and “Green Wheels”.  He also recreated “Palingenesia” and acted as Howard Thurston, performing the latter’s famous sawing-in-half illusion.  Jonathan was a consultant for films such as “Now You See Me” and ”The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”.  He also acted in “Flash Forward” and “The X-Files”.

Jonathan mentions that to be a successful and entertaining magician you need to be in total control of the entire performance.  In order to achieve this, you need to be in control of the audience, the story line of your act, the technicalities of the various tricks, and have a personality of your own.  He likens his magic to jazz, where he walks on a fine line and takes a lot of risk.

In DVD No 2, Jonathan explains his close-up magic act and expounds further his philosophy on performing magic to his award-winning lady magician friend, Suzanne.  Jonathan discusses his take on “connecting with an audience”, “the person he wishes he could be”, and his “show structure”.  He said that a major technique for achieving control in his act is to always be “ahead of the game” – doing the magical “moves” well ahead of time, before the climax is revealed to the audience.  In this way, the audience does not know what hits them and they cannot reconstruct the magic afterwards.  “Ahead Of The Game” therefore becomes the title of this DVD set.

In his explanation of his close-up act, Jonathan discusses his takes on forcing a card, peeking a card, his fan force, and the use of marked cards.  He explains how he switches the deck twice well ahead of time – once to a deck with different colour backs, and then to one with blank faces.  Jonathan has an interesting presentation of triumph.  He performs it as an errant shuffle, not as a deliberate face-up and face-down shuffle.  Everything he does has a psychological motivation.  There are 2 effects Jonathan does not explain in the DVDs.  They are both his marketed effects and are available from his web-site.  They are his colour-changing card case and his un-matrix routine.

Although Jonathan Levit has not officially won any magic performance award, his close-up act is a winner anytime, anywhere.  If you study carefully Jonathan’s performing philosophy from the DVDs, and apply it to your own act, there is no reason why you cannot be a more successful magician.

This set of DVDs is a worthwhile investment.

[usr 10]

Please support intellectual property. Only buy original. Available from all reputable Murphy’s Magic dealers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]54301-full[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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