Peter Samelson combines twin passions - magic and theater - to carve out a unique place in the world of show business. This "soft-spoken conceptualist of sorcery" (The New York Times) created two solo off-Broadway shows (The Magician and PaperWork,) has designed illusions for theater, film and television, and authored the book, Theatrical Close-Up.
Although Princeton was home for some early years (his father, Hans, was at the IAS,) Peter is a Stanford graduate. He has performed atop the Great Wall of China, in the jungles of Bali and the universities of Tokyo; for Mexican peasants, Grand Prix racecar drivers, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, the jet set of Paris and the fishermen mending their nets on the beaches of Cartagena.
Technologically proficient as well as artistically inclined, Samelson heads The Afterglow Group (producing live events and state-of-the-art digital multi-media for corporate accounts) and is a producer of Monday Night Magic.
The gruesome details….
Peter Samelson insists he doesn’t do magic, he only helps people to see it. He is an illusionist cum philosopher, blending simplicity and sophistication as he provokes thought and inspires wonder.
Christened “the soft-spoken conceptualist of sorcery” by the New York Times, Peter Samelson has distinguished himself not only as a magician, but as an artist. Born in Michigan of immigrant parents, as a youth he was shuttled between Ann Arbor and Princeton, NJ where he played in Albert Einstein's backyard. Perhaps this is where his interest in physics began. His fascination with magic was kindled at age 11 during a school assembly, and his passion for technology wasn't far behind.
At Stanford University Peter turned his back on a career in physics and followed a long standing interest in theater, which is how he ended up in New York City. Here he became a resident magician at the Magic Towne House, became a star of the Revlon Magic of Color tour and created touring Magic theater shows.
Peter Samelson has performed atop the Great Wall of China, in the jungles of Bali and the universities of Tokyo. He has performed for Mexican peasants, and Grand Prix race car drivers. He has entertained Princess Stephanie of Monaco, the jet-set of Paris and the fishermen mending their nets on the beaches of Cartegena. From Kenya to the Magic Castle, from television to trade shows, college campuses to commercials, the New York stage, night clubs and celebrity events, Peter Samelson has distinguished himself not only as a magician, but as an artist.
While touring the world aboard the finest luxury cruise liners, Peter found time to write, create and mount two one-man shows Off-B’way in New York. Both The Magician and PaperWork received critical acclaim, and a third show, Standing Up and Looking Ahead, toured to colleges and theaters around the United States. Peter also wrote for and performed with Avant-Garde theater groups such as The Talking Band, and Mabou Mines, in whose film, Dead End Kids, Peter and his magic are featured.
The Magic Source was co-founded in the early 1990’s by Peter and Dameon, another well known manipulator and illusionist. The company focus was the custom design of Magic for stage, film and video. Their work has appeared at countless National Sales Meetings, Trade Shows, and in films for Walt Disney Productions (What About Bob? With Richard Dreyfus and Bill Murray) and Paramount Films (Whispers in the Dark with Alan Alda and Deborah K. Ungar.) Most commercially, The Magic Source was seen in a spot for Kraft Salad Dressing as a pair of disembodied hands. Peter was the Right Hand!
The mid 1990’s saw Peter join Michael Chaut (soon followed by Frank Brents, Todd Robbins and Jamy Ian Swiss) to found Monday Night Magic, which, now in its thirteenth year, is the longest running Magic Show in New York. Peter and the MNM team have appeared numerous times on the Today Show and on Good Morning America. You will find him headlining the MNM show in New York about four times per year.
Peter continues to design Magic for live theater, creating all the magic for Houdini, the musical, with appearance in Connecticut, Illinois and New York. In 2006 he designed illusions and smaller magic for the Paper Mill Playhouse presentation of Carnival! and the Goodspeed Musicals production and national tour of Pippin. In 2009, Peter designed magic for BAM/Old Vic productions of The Cherry Orchard and Winters Tale, a production of The Tempest for the Bermuda International Theatre Festival and the Glimmerglass Opera presentation of The Consul.
What distinguishes Peter from other artists in the field of Illusion, is his commitment to the concept that his art is a medium, not an end in itself. He builds pieces that carry ideas as well as entertainment, touching the hearts of his audiences in a way few performers can.
A quick look behind the curtain...