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

Official Review

May 15th, 2015 1:37pm
Reviewed by James Sanden
“Ahead of the Game” is a two DVD set devoted to Jonathan Levit’s complete close up act, as performed at the Magic Castle. The set contain two full performances, both of which can also be viewed with a real time commentary by Mr. Levit and his producer, Anthony Asimov. The discs also include explanations for the majority of the effects seen, as well as an interview of Mr. Levit by Mr. Asimov, plus discussions between Mr. Levit and Suzanne covering several ideas related to his approach to performance.

Any time a successful working professional shares what he or she performs for paying audiences, magicians should sit up and take notice. In this case, Mr. Levit doesn’t just reveal the tricks he performs; he reveals his entire act. The magic is incredibly well constructed, not just within the methods of the individual effects, but throughout the entire show. The name of the set says it all: Mr. Levit is far, far ahead of the audience at almost every point in the act. He accomplishes this using a combination of, among other things, subtle time misdirection, clever construction, and an extremely engaging and entertaining presentation. This combination results in magic that has a very deep level of deception. The level of thought and time that has gone into the development of every moment of his act is incredible and is an example of the level of work every magician should put into their performances.

Of course, trying to teach how a well-constructed act is built can be a challenging endeavor, but thankfully the instruction on this DVD set is excellent. The discussions of methods are extensive and complete, and include not just the method, but also the practical theory behind the method’s construction. His instruction also includes tips learned through hundreds of performances, and he offers suggestions for classic methods and effects that will make them not only more practical, but also more deceptive. In additional to the explanations, Mr. Levit also discusses show structure, character and connecting to the audience, concepts that are critical to the success of any performance.

The material covered includes a four-card revelation, a color changing deck routine, a version of ACAAN, triumph and a matrix. In writing this review, I hesitated to list the contents because these bare bones titles do not do justice to these effects as performed by Mr. Levit. In his hands these routines are not only wildly entertaining and incredibly powerful, but he has woven them into an act that feels like a show, not a disjointed series of tricks. And even if the viewer has one or more of these routines in his or her repertoire, there are likely ideas and approaches that can be appropriated to improve one’s own handling. And to reiterate an earlier point, Mr. Levit’s approach to show design and method construction can be applied to any effect and any act, regardless of the actual magic performed.

It should be noted Mr. Levit’s matrix and color changing card case are not explained on the DVD set. (Both are available as separate purchases.) The color changing card case is gimmicked and the matrix is truly a showpiece, which I believe justifies their separate releases. Regardless, the quality and volume of valuable content in this set eclipses any disappointment one might experience not learning these two routines. And given the quality of this release, as well as how powerful the effects are in performance, I’m certain both the color changing card case and matrix are worth every additional penny.

“Ahead of the Game” contains a complete act, filled with extremely powerful and deceptive magic, performed by a wildly entertaining and engaging performer. The methods are clever, deceptive, practical and have been used in the real world in hundreds of performances. The theories and ideas presented are useful, impactful and can be seen practically applied in shows performed for real audiences. Purchasing this DVD set is an absolute no brainer. There is no magician who couldn’t benefit from studying it. I give it my highest recommendation.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Jonathan Levit: Ahead of the Game - Black Rabbit Series Issue #5

Author: Levit, Jonathan
Publisher: Anthony Asimov Magic
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $39.99
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Manufacturer's Description:

In this 2-Volume set, Jonathan Levit introduces you to the secret he uses to craft clean, jaw-dropping magic. He calls is being "ahead of the game". Learn the secret, use it well... guard it with your life!

Jonathan is a magician, actor and television host. He has appeared on Fox's "Masters of Illusion," was the host of VH1's "Celebracadabra," and has been the magic consultant for many television shows and films.

Over 5 hours of content! Includes:2 live shows filmed at The Magic Castle 2 feature commentaries by Jonathan Professional magic routines that Jonathan has perfected over thousands of performances Detailed explanations 40-Minute interviewQUADROREVELATION - Jonathan's opener is a spectacular 4-card reveal. A real fooler with maximum audience involvement, this one trick is worth the value of this DVD set.

EVERYTHING CHANGES - An epic blue-to-red color change they never see coming and brings the house down.

DRAW A BLANK - Jonathan's Any Card at Any Number (ACAAN) has an ultra-clean presentation and a killer ending.

LEVIT TRIUMPH - This brilliant handling of the classic Triumph effect is an instant showstopper that always generates thunderous applause.

THE UN-MATRIX - Jonathan's signature matrix is famous in the magic community. Jonathan performs it for two live audiences, then shares its background and explains one key move to accomplish the routine. Performance-only.

Packed with dozens of valuable lessons and tips, including: The advantages of being "Ahead of the Game" Connecting with an audience Staying in control Time misdirection Psychological audience management Jonathan's method for loading a card onto a chair under a spectator Building your character Building the "moment" of an effect Creating realities for an audience Using a signature prop Jonathan's approach to mentalism Structuring an act Jonathan's Fan Forcing and Deck Switching Techniques Enhancing an effect by moving the moment of magic Challenging yourself Handling technical difficulties"Frankly, I'm surprised Jonathan has released the very routines he's taken years to perfect. Masterful, amazing routines I have quietly coveted since I first saw him wow an audience with them. Now, the 'wow' can be yours too."
- Bruce Gold

"Jonathan's show embodies roll-in-the-aisles comedy and jaw-dropping magic. This combination is exactly what is needed to leave your audiences with the feeling they've witnessed something completely impossible. Studying his comedic timing alone will enhance your show greatly. Learning the tools he uses to create his mind blowing magic will raise you to a whole new level as a performer."
- Suzanne

"Jonathan is a perfectionist. It shows in his pure sleight of hand and the way he thinks."
- Dean Dill

"After having given many Performance Workshops, it was a real pleasure for me to watch magic through the performance of a real actor. Is there a difference? You bet. Jonathan's performance is clear, focused, intelligent and professional. (Note: Like magic should be done.) The magic is well served by Jonathan's audience management. He knows how to tell a story, engage his audience and sell a trick. The effects, while different, are in everyone's reach, yet his style and presentation make them memorable. Do yourself a favor, watch this DVD."
- Bob Fitch

"Jonathan really 'gets it' when it comes to magic. Not only does he fool everyone with his magic, but he makes a real connection to the audience. More magicians need to think this way. More magicians need to see this DVD."
- Dan Garrett

"Jonathan Levit has put the time and thought into his magic to make it great, now he is willing to put time and effort with his fellow magicians We can now all benefit from his efforts."
- Stephen Bargatze

"I have seen Jonathan's live show numerous times at The Magic Castle and the audience reactions to his most powerful effects simply have to be seen to be believed. Jonathan is a highly skilled magician who is opening the doors to his repertoire on this DVD. If you want to become a better magician, watch this and learn as much as you can from a true master of the magical arts."
- Anthony Asimov

"Jonathan Levit: Ahead of the Game" is ISSUE #5 in the Black Rabbit Series, which features outstanding professional magicians from around the world who perform full shows for live un-coached audiences.

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