From a stylized act they’ve evolved to a full evening show.
The Gamesters, Doug Leferovich and Seth Yudof, have an up tempo new Broadway style magical show, Manhattan Magic, running at the Sands Casino in Atlantic City. On the stage where the likes of Frank Sinatra and other great entertainers have played, the Sands’ Copa Room will present the Gamesters through October 31, 2001. “It’s been overwhelming, but very exciting,” Yudof told MagicTimes during some recent time off from the shows’ demanding schedule.
“It’s not your typical magic show. We’ve got a lot of scenery flying in (Manhattan Magic is presented in a stylized New York City set) and we’ve got nine great dancers choreographed by Joshua Bergasse. Magic is used to forward the storyline much as songs are used to forward the storyline in a musical. (The show features the swing-style music of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) We designed and engineered several new magic illusions for Manhattan Magic,” enumerated Yudof by way of illustration. The costuming is particularly unusual. Yudof and Leferovich’s two Gamesters characters are clad in eye popping colorful Zoot suites (an updating of a 1940’s fashion statement) giving the duo an image of inhabitants of a cartoon; retro yet up to date.
The current show had been two years in production. The joint career of the two men now known as the Gamesters began when they met while both were attending the University of Pennsylvania. During a campus production of Barnum for which they were magic consultants, they were asked to do their act during intermission. “You do have an act don’t you?” Although it was not the “Gamesters” that they presented at that time, it was the beginning of their performing career together.
After graduation they continued working at their craft and became quite successful with what had become their 10 minute Gamesters act. They worked all over the world in casino revue shows in Atlantic City, Chile, Peru and Malaysia. Many people remember them from their appearances with Franz Harary.
“Three years ago we were asked to fill in for 3 weeks at Magicopolis in L.A. We stayed on for three months. During this time Doug and I developed 45 minutes of new material. We realized that the characters could do more than the 10 minute act.” During the time a Magicopolis they got to do a bit for Fox Kids Saturday morning show that was used as a bumper segment on the program for 2 years and was seen in 15 different countries. “We found ourselves back in Atlantic City again at Resorts and four entertainment reporters who remembered us from previous engagements in A.C. were very complimentary to us and asked us why we didn’t do a full show. We were flattered and enthused because it was something we had thought about after the Magicopolis run. Coincidentally, a backer appeared the very next day and offered to fund us in a show. We were contracted to work Murray Hatfield’s Canada tour, which we fulfilled and then we took two years off to put all of our energy into this production.”
The Gamesters were already known to Atlantic City Entertainment Directors and this opened a few doors. The production staff grew from, “…a series of people introducing us to other people. Some of the people we initially worked with we didn’t like. Then, when we found someone we liked, they would introduce us to other people we liked. Joshua Bergasse, our choreographer was instrumental in bringing us together with a number of people we wound up working with.” Doug Leferovich’s mom sent them an article she had cut out about Hudson Scenic, one of the foremost fabricators of sets for Broadway shows. The earnest neophytes paid a call on Hudson Scenic and were bowled over by Hudsons’ astonishing credentials and expertise. “They were really nice to us. They said, “Oh, by the way, you’ll need a good set designer,” relates Seth. “They were the ones who put us in touch with Andy Warfel whose done a great job for us.” The real stars of the show however are the Gamesters themselves. Their visual comedy and stylized magical presentation make for an unusual and exhilarating entertainment.
Harry Houdini parlayed his reputation earned with his handcuff act into a full evening road show. Howard Thurston worked his way up from a card act to acquisition of Harry Kellar’s Wonders. MagicTimes asked Seth Yudof, “What’s next for the Gamesters?,” regarding their progression from a 10 minute position to a Broadway style production. “We’re looking at the show as theater. The great experience of mounting Manhattan Magic and the warm response to the show in Atlantic City changes horizons for us.” Will Manhattan Magic find a home in The Big Apple? Keep your eye on the Gamesters. Oh, and on Manhattan too!
Tickets and show times at the Sands Casino in Atlantic City may be had at the Sands box office or by calling (609) 441-4137. Tickets are also available at TicketMaster outlets or by phone: 800-736-1420.
—Richard Steven Cohn
Richard Steven Cohn has written for Genii, Magicol, M.U.M., The Yankee Collector, MAGIC, as well as magic themed articles for Brooklyn Bridge Magazine and Stagebill. He is a magical consultant for television and theater and performs both as a single and with his wife Alexandra.