There’s Always Something MAGICIAL
at the Old Creamery Theatre
Magician and comedian Ben Ulin is coming to the Old Creamery Theatre for one show only on Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm.
Our interview with Ben Ulin!
How long have you been a magician?
The term, "magician" is fairly generic so this question is complicated for
me. The simple answer is; I have been a fulltime professional performer for
almost 40 years.
My career represents many different forms of magic and each has required
learning different skills over my lifetime. I have been a children's
magician, a street act, a strolling restaurant magician, an illusionist, and
a comedy club magician. Each of these acts was learned separately and
developed as new opportunities arose for me.
How did you learn the arts of magic?
I learned some basic tricks as a child from books out of a library, but it
was when I took a job as a demonstrator/salesman for a magic shop in Des
Moines that I was exposed to the professional secrets . The shop gave me
access to numerous resources and props and the opportunity to practice and
experiment with them as I demonstrated them for customers. Ultimately, I
have learned the most from reading and my personal magic library has over a
thousand magic books in it.
Why did you first fall in love with magic?
Although the challenge of "creating magic" has always appealed to me, as an
entertainer I am more interested in creating funny situations and connecting
to the audience in interesting ways. This 'style' came from performing in
the comedy clubs back in the 80's and 90's and that was a very creative and
gratifying period of time for me.
What is your favorite magic trick and why?
A very wise magician once advised that you should never perform a trick that
you don't personally feel is GREAT! Don't waste peoples time with anything
less. It is very hard for me to choose a favorite routine - I enjoy
performing them all.
Which magician do you look up to and why?
I don't remember seeing any magic shows live or on television throughout my
childhood. I was performing shows long before there were any nationally
famous magicians like Criss Angel, Penn and Teller, David Copperfield, and
Doug Henning. I didn't know of any local magicians either. I think my
approach to magic actually benefitted by not having any specific influences.
But I am often asked, 'Who influenced you?' My answer is two people who were
not magicians - my father and Robin Williams.
I will never forget seeing Robin Williams for the first time. An HBO young
comedians special in the '70's. He changed the definition of what a stand-up
entertainer could be. It was not a list of jokes, no presence of a memorized
script - only a joyful freedom of expression and an engagement with the
audience. He showed me that bringing your passion onto the stage - without
reservation or apology - is mesmerizing and powerful. My own energy and
satire of magic very directly come from his influence.
I also do not remember my father ever telling a 'joke' in his life. Instead,
he told stories about real events that he found so funny, he often couldn't
finish telling the story because he was laughing so hard about it. His joy
in telling these stories drew everyone in. I think my desire to find genuine
humor from real situations rather than just telling old jokes comes from my
What is a magic trick you hope to master one day?
There is a very long list of things I would like to master. I am always
working on new things. At the top of my list though is not a specific trick
but a full blacklight magic show. This kind of show is a unique concept in
magic where the stage is made very dark and all you can see are the brightly
colored costumes and props that glow under blacklight - dark objects cannot
be seen. This allows the magician to cause props to float, appear, and
disappear in a truly magical way. I have been performing this style of show
at Adventureland for a couple of years now and I would eventually like to
tour with it.
Are you excited to come to the Old Creamery Theatre?
I am very excited. The Old Creamery Theatre has a great reputation around
Iowa. And there is nothing quite like staging a show in a legitimate
theater. I'll be bringing my lovely assistant, Amy Cole and some of my
favorite illusions from my show at Adventureland. Expect to see both some
classic and original magic... I'm even going to cut someone in half!