Eric Samuels combines psychology, suggestion, and stagecraft to perform seemingly impossible acts of astonishment.
And while the White Rock man is typically onstage at conferences, conventions, and other private functions, he's stepping it up this month by presenting a public show in Langley. which promoter Rob Warwick vows will be funny and mind-blowing.
"Samuels takes you on a journey to the outer reaches of the human mind and then returns you safely back to your seat, feeling both entertained and empowered," Warwick said.
"His Acts of Astonishment will open your mind, spark your imagination, and keep you thinking about what you've experienced, long after the show is done."
While Samuels has been performing most of his adult life, the shows and sessions he's offering today are a far cry from his professional drumming gigs he did in his late teens.He explained the transition.
As a fallback to his potential music career, Samuels decided to pursue a degree in psychology. But discovery of the campus radio station, he said, "forever changed my direction."
He ended up in the radio business in his early 20s, first as an on-air performer, then as a program director, and eventually the national vice-president of programming. All the while, however, he was still drawn to the stage, performing as a standup comic and working comedy clubs across the country.
"My interest in mentalism began in the late-'90s, combining my original interest in psychology with my standup experience and a newfound interest in the art of mind-reading," he told the Langley Advance.
"Mentalism is not magic. Here is how I introduce and explain what I do: I use psychology, suggestion, and stagecraft to present mind-stretching experiences that entertain and empower..."
He began performing the mentalism routines of others, masters from the past like The Amazing Kreskin, Theodore Annemann, and Joseph Dunninger.
"After a few years, I began to develop my own style and presentational content. Today, just about everything I perform is my own creation, reflecting my point of view and skill-set," Samuels explained.
"These demonstrations and experiments are often based upon the foundational principles of the past masters, but the themes and style are quite different_ My shows are highly interactive, funny, and filled with surprises."
While Samuels performs across Canada and the U.S., primarily at private events, the Mentalist - as he's being dubbed - is doing this unusual show at Cascade's Summit Theatre on Friday, Sept. 28. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show starting at 8.
Tickets are $22.50 and available from the casino guest services or online at www.ticketweb.ca.
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The perormances are highly interactive, he explained. The entire audience will participate in the show, even if they never leave their seat.
"The audience is the focus of the entire show. In fact, many of the Acts Of Astonishment are accomplished not by me, but my members of the audience, using techniques that we all possess, like intuition," he said.
"I also reveal some of the inner workings of techniques, such as reading non-verbal communication, including body-language. Audiences will find that their own skills are heightened, as a result."
But he vows to respect any of the audience who participate.
"While we have a lot of fun, I will never endanger or humiliate anyone in the audience," he said.
Asked how his performances fit with his home life, Samuels replied: "I am in a long-term committed relationship with a wonderful woman who is the unfortunate one-person focus group for much of my mentalism experimentation and routine development.
"Otherwise, I don't indulge in mind-reading or psychological ploys in my day-to-day life - unless I'm negotiating for a new car or something!" he said
So where do he want to take his show in the future?
"This new 'leaf' of public theatre shows has a lot of appeal. I'm excited to develop the idea further," Samuels said, noting he'd also like to work around the world and not just in North America.
"The most consistent feedback I get from people who have experienced what I do, is that it is like nothing else they've ever seen or experienced. This, to me, is the highest compliment."