There are two things you need to bring if you’re planning on catching magician and mentalist Steve Wallach’s act in Atlantic City.
The first is an open mind, a willingness to suspend belief and logic.
The second is an appetite for fine Italian food.
You won’t find Wallach in Resorts Casino Hotel’s 1,400-seat Superstar Theater. Nor will you find him 13 stories above the Boardwalk in the more intimate, 350-seat Screening Room. Don’t bother looking for him in a lounge, either.
If you want to see Wallach, you’ll need to make weekend dinner reservations in Capriccio, the gourmet Italian restaurant that’s anchored the dining level at Resorts since Atlantic City’s first casino opened in May 1978.
Wallach is a strolling entertainer wandering from table to table, introducing himself to complete strangers and deftly weaving his magic, illusion and mind-reading skills for unsuspecting guests.
“There’s a delicacy to performing for people who are waiting for their dinner, but once I can get that first effect in, I can usually win them over,” says Wallach, who’s performed professionally throughout the United States and France for 27 of his 51 years.
Wallach’s skills are, quite simply, nothing short of confounding. He’s an absolute master of slight of hand, doing card tricks that defy any logical explanation.
He turns $20 bills into $100s and keeps the Secret Service at bay by turning them back to the double-sawbuck. He asks guests to jot down their thoughts on a small piece of paper, tears up the paper without looking at it and then accurately guesses what was written.
And when you ask him, out of complete bewilderment, how he does it, he answers with the quip and timing of a great comedian.
“Can you keep a secret?” he asks, usually getting an affirmative nod from his subject? “Well, so can I.”
How Wallach landed his current gig at Resorts is almost as magical as the tricks he performs.
He was at a Philadelphia restaurant on a Saturday night in mid-December waiting to perform at a private party. The party was running late, so Wallach was waiting in the main dining room when he overheard someone at a nearby table mentioning playing card suits.
They were playing his song. Out of curiosity, he sauntered over to the table of strangers, who turned out to be Resorts president and CEO Dennis Gomes, his wife, Barbara, and some friends.
Wallach couldn’t help himself. Having no idea he was talking to the co-owner of an Atlantic City casino, he launched into his usual tableside spiel and began doing his card tricks and mind reading. Then, just for some extra giggles, he lifted the watch Barbara Gomes was wearing right off her wrist without her knowledge.
Wallach didn’t know it, but he was auditioning for Dennis Gomes, who was so impressed he literally hired him on the spot.
Ten days later, Wallach made his debut in Capriccio. Since then, he’s spent every weekend working dinner service and Sunday brunch in Capriccio and occasionally wandering into Gallagher’s, the steak house down the hall.
Wallach came by his magic career in a time-honored fashion. As a kid, he got a part-time job in a magic store when he was just 12, and began working neighborhood shows and parties for kids a few years younger. He even wrangled an appearance on the old Bozo The Clown TV show.