Optical Delusions

magician trio mini-tour hits Grand Little Theatre

Theresa Schneider |

There’s something about a magic trick that is, well, magic. That something hooked magician Ben Seidman.

“There’s something that’s different about magic. … When you feel deeply fooled by a magician and you feel like a kid again,” said Seidman, a close-up magician specializing in sleight of hand, stand up, and pick pocketing. “I wanted to share that with other people.”

Now the former UW-Eau Claire student has something up his sleeve and is taking his show, Optical Delusions, on the road – first in a mini-tour around the Midwest, then around the nation. Joining Seidman on tour will be Mind Reader Luke Jermay and Comedian-Juggler Marcus Monroe, Seidman’s childhood friend.

“(They’re) two of my closest friends in the world,” he said.

Seidman first started dabbling in magic as a child, but started getting serious by the age of 10. At 18, Seidman said he knew magic was where he wanted to be. 

“I just knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

After three years of pursuing a performing arts degree at UWEC, Seidman participated in National Student Exchange and spent his last year of his undergrad studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, networking and trying to get himself established.

Seidman’s networking paid off. He now is the resident magician at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, performing weekly in the Eyecandy and Mix lounges.

Performing nights, going to the office involves making phone calls, trying to find venues for the upcoming tour, practice, and creating new magic tricks that no one has seen before.

“I’ve got a network of scholars and performers I call on. … I make sure that what I’m creating has never been done before.”
After moving out to Vegas soon after gr    aduating, Seidman landed a job with Criss Angel’s Mindfreak on the A&E network.

    “If you’ve seen the show, you’ve probably seen my stuff,” he said. Working with the show, Seidman said he performed on the streets, doing sleight of hand, as well as masterminding and mapping new tricks for the world-famous magician.

“My job was to make the impossible happen. If (Angel) said ‘I want to be shot point-blank in the face … and pull the bullets out myself’ we said, ‘OK, give us a month,’” Seidman said, laughing.

Seidman’s favorite project he worked on was the one that appeared during the premiere of the fourth season, where a car drove through Angel and he appeared in the driver’s seat.

“Magic is all about problem solving,” he said. “It’s about training yourself to look at things from every possible perspective.

But after three seasons of creating magic for someone else, sometimes working up to 17 hours a day, six days a week, Seidman left.

“I went through this period where I felt like I used up all my creativity,” he said. That is, until he and Jermay started brainstorming ideas for new tricks and a show, which led to the conception of a national tour. The initial concept for the show involved three people, and Seidman said he always knew he wanted Monroe to perform with him. Even though Jermay didn’t know Monroe, after seeing him perform once he knew Monroe had to be part of Optical Delusions.

The goal of the tour isn’t just to entertain, Seidman said. Often when people think of magic, they think of a party magician or circus performer, he added; and that can leave people disappointed.

“We’re trying to change our own genres of performance. … We’re hoping to revamp and give our arts a facelift and bring them up to the 21st century,” Seidman said. “We want to show that real live performing can be compelling.”

    The Optical Delusions (with Ben Seidman, Marcus Monroe, and Luke Jermay) is Thursday, Jan. 29 at the Grand Little Theatre, 102 W Grand Ave., Eau Claire. The show begins at 8 pm. Call 832-7529 for tickets ($15 adults, $10 students). For more information, check out