Goodbye Amos and a Vegas Bravo……….
I want to start this column with a goodbye to one of the nicest people that ever graced the magic world—Amos Levkovitch. I have never seen a greater impact from the passing of a beloved figure in the magic community. From the outpouring of spoken and written tributes to Amos, it is apparent that everyone agrees that this was really one of magic’s true gentlemen.
I first became friends with Amos in 1984 when I was the technical advisor for Steven Spielberg’s TV series ‘Amazing Stories,’ An opening shot was created that featured my character producing a dove onstage. It was a really complex shot that began as a close-up and panned back to encompass a fabulous studio replication of the ‘Magic Castle.’
The only problem with this scenario was that I had never produced a dove before, and never wanted to, I still have nightmares about the feel of their nasty scabby claws on my finger. Amos came to my rescue and taught me what to do and gave me the dove to do it with. In Hollywood tradition he became a technical advisor to the technical advisor and even ended up with an onset job as a dove wrangler! We have been friends ever since and like so many others I will miss him greatly. He was a wonderful performer and an even more wonderful person. Farewell my friend.
Last Saturday I caught a great variety magic show here in Las Vegas at ‘Planet Hollywood.’ The event was ‘TV Magic Week’ in The David Saxe Theatre, and it ran from June 25th-30th with daily shows at 4PM. The show was a sixty-five minute high-energy romp of magic, illusion, masks, animals, fun and even some great sleight of hand close-up thrown in. The time sped by and the pace of the show never dragged, this was an excellent decision and allowed the capacity audience to enter very enthusiastically into the energy of everything.
Talking about energy, veteran Las Vegas entertainer Russ Merlin did a magnificent job hosting the show. He didn’t waste a word or a moment in his role as MC, and then closed out the show with his ‘one of a kind’ act. Russ’ act features four onstage assistants, four very bizarre masks and a lot of theatrical ‘stage whispering.’ It is hard to describe the act, but even harder not to laugh at it. While you couldn’t call it a magic show, that may be it’s closest relative! Great job Russ.
Other acts on the bill included the exotic bird trainer Clint Carvalho, fresh from a recent appearance on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ whose good-natured show had the audience in the palm of his hand. Maybe what I mean is in the claw of his parrot’s foot! The precision of their various stunts was both impressive and humorous. I am a sucker for a good animal act and this one is as honed as any you are ever likely to see.
One nice touch in the show was the inclusion of a big screen close-up sequence from Armando Vera. He did some very impressive card and coin work that added a real dimension to the performance. It was very clean and commercial work that made a big impact on the audience. Armando showed a great deal of ‘savvy’ in his choice of material and a lot of discipline in his construction of this segment.
Leslie McKinney and Lorie, performed some highly effective grand illusion in their segment of the show. The couple were smooth and original in both their performance and presentation. As a magician I appreciated the design of McKinney’s various props, they all had something unique about them and looked and functioned just a little differently from what one might expect. A really sweet interlude in his show was when Les performed a Miser’s Dream onstage with two young ladies from the audience—it was a show stealer. Leslie and Lorie performed a very accomplished set and were another fine addition to a highly professional show
So in its usual manner, life goes on in the magic world. We say goodbye to a beloved member of our community and watch another show created and filling a showroom. ‘TV Magic Week’ was the kind of bill that Amos would have fitted into perfectly and his iconic dove work would have been a huge plus point to the production. However, as I said, “Life goes on…”