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Check Out Cassandra and Ben Nemzer’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cassandra and Ben Nemzer.

The two of us both recently moved to Los Angeles from our hometown of Manhattan. Married just over five years and together for ten total, we both come from performance backgrounds. Ben was a Theater Performance major at Marymount Manhattan College and Cassandra studied opera and musical theater at Mannes School of Music and Westminster Choir College. Before we met, Ben was already working professionally as a magician at Manhattan’s most prestigious venues and Cassandra had already accomplished singing at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and even acting off-Broadway. She also was frequently performing magic at private parties. In October of 2014, we were married. After we got married, we were performing separately both in Manhattan and touring globally.

As freelance performers, our day to day work would REALLY vary. Both of us were Magic Demonstrators at the iconic 5th avenue Toy Store (from the movie “Big” F.A.O. Schwarz AND the flagship Toys ‘R Us in Times Square, in addition to being the house magicians at a secret underground restaurant in TriBeCa called Ninja New York Restaurant and being Teaching Artists running Magical After School programs for nearly every top private School in Manhattan. We are both also performing members of the world-famous Hollywood Magic Castle, but we perform separately when booked there, not as a duo. Ben worked behind the counter of Tannen’s Magic, one of the oldest magic shops in the country, headlined NYC’s longest-running off-Broadway show, Monday Night Magic, and also performed for colleges and corporate events all over. Cassandra also performed on Netflix and traveled to Japan alone to film magic on Japanese Reality TV. Although our works had a lot of overlap, it was actually pretty seldom that we were working in the same place at the same time. Although we did go to India together to teach magic with an organization called Artists Striving to End Poverty.

We also both perform with Broadway celebrities through an organization called Broadways Babies, that brings The Arts to underserved communities. Inversely we also created customized magic experiences for Manhattan’s elite, in their homes and the Hamptons. Ben created a customized experiential marketing campaign for AT&T and the two of us even created an entire magic night at the Playboy Club in Manhattan before it closed its doors for the last time. Ben is also a member of the New York Friars Club where he has produced many shows and developed programming to engage guests. In 2016 the two of us launched our two person stage magic show specially designed for cruise ship audiences. We have been on Celebrity, Holland America, Carnival, Disney but mostly on Norwegian. The show is interactive, has lots of audience participation and Ben mostly does the talking and comedy and Cassandra does bigger spectacle magic while she sings at the same time.

Together we have been to more countries than we can count and have performed in multi-million dollar theaters for thousands of people a week. Until… March 2020. We were literally on a cruise ship until March 16th, where we got off in the Manhattan cruise terminal. It was a shock how life on land had changed so drastically after being away from home for only ten days. Within a matter of weeks, all of our bookings and work for the indeterminable future was GONE. No more cruise ships, no more schools shows, camps, theaters, no mingling at cocktail parties doing magic. Just, everything gone. We had to adapt. That brings us to today. 🙂

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
One of the biggest challenges has been adapting to life in the Pandemic. Our work as performers (especially in magic) involves close up interaction with our audiences. Obviously, with the state of the world at the current moment this was no longer in the cards. So like many other performers in our position, we took to the screen, the computer screen that is, and started performing virtual shows and teaching virtual magic classes both together and separately. In a way, working in this fashion has opened up opportunities for us that we never would have had pre-pandemic. For example, we now have the opportunity to perform for people all over the world and the country from the comfort of our own home. We also have the extreme pleasure to spend more time with our wonderful rescue dog, Charlie Chaplin. But one of the biggest things this huge obstacle has brought our way is the ability to make a long time dream come true, which is moving to Los Angeles! With many people fleeing big cities, especially performers and artists with no work, and exorbitant Manhattan rents, our friends were moving out of Manhattan in droves.

In the past, we could never leave Manhattan because so much of the work was there. But now, this was our time! So we packed up our car, and took an incredible cross country road trip and found our way to Sherman Oaks! We are Manhattanites so car life is new for us! In this road trip, we got safely travel to parts of the country we had never seen before. We went on hikes with Charlie and even he got to see the whole country! But honestly, his favorite place was once we got here and he was finally able to run on the beach! For us having the freedom of a car has been huge and one of our favorite parts of life in LA! We’ve had the opportunity, because of this, to go to some pretty cool Covid safe places around our new city, including the really awesome Magic Asphalt show in the parking lot of our home away from home, The Magic Castle. Making the move and creating this new way of life hasn’t been easy, but it has been such an incredible step and even though it’s been hard, we are excited for what’s next.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
For reference, our websites are: www.BenNemzer.com and www.CassandraMagic.com.

Fortunately, a lot of corporations, organizations and families all figured out they needed to have virtual holiday entertainment this year and we ended up booking an inordinate amount of work this holiday season. Our performances can range from short guest appearances to break up meetings and conferences, “how to” card trick sessions, or even hour long shows. Since the pandemic began, we’ve performed for a long list of impressive clients and also taught magic for several high-end private schools on Zoom, taught at Tannens Magic Camp Online to kids from 5 different continents, and even corporate team building events and family birthday parties. But we have found really cool ways to create a totally interactive experience online. Additionally, Ben is a certified school teacher in the states of NY, CA and FL. He’s always planned on teaching after a long career of performing but is also considering jumping into the full-time realm of Education or the corporate world, should Covid last much longer than this. He’s used this time to continue his professional development as well, taking classes at UCLA online and becoming further credentialed in the state of CA. Cassandra also completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification online during this time. Although she has no plans to be a professional yoga instructor, she does look forward to hosting her first Yoga With Cassandra classes soon!

Fortunately, we are doing much better than expected performing magic online. One thing we can say is that we are glad people are really enjoying our online performances and they just seem to keep booking us, but we REALLY miss live performances. There’s just something not the same about not having a room full of people filling a room with energy and being able to connect in person. We have had two live in-person shows since the pandemic under excruciating covid-safe guidelines. (Outdoors, families on their blankets, masked, 6 feet apart from any other bubble, all masked, us wearing masks too.) One was in Central Park, NY shortly before we left and another on someone’s back patio in a beautiful mansion in Beverly Hills. Both shows were received tremendously well. It was so hard to perform through wearing a mask and not even being able to see if the audience we are performing for is smiling because they, too were masked. We couldn’t hand out objects to be examined, borrow items, bring people up onstage, or even touch someone on the shoulder. There’s just too many limitations. We love the quote by Orson Welles, “The absence of limitation is the enemy of art.” In a way, the new limitations of being able to continue to perform our craft during this scarily changing time has created a new demand of the medium of Virtual Performances and we’ve been able to create some really good art and magical content we are proud of.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Motivation – Because being a freelance artist requires you to set your hours and get work done on your own time while also meeting other deadlines Kindness – Because if you don’t love your audience and other people, what’s the point? Empathy – Because we aim to always make our audiences and clients feel the way we would want to. Never embarrassed and always on the same team. Tenacity – Because in the arts people are always telling you no, booking your competition, or sometimes there’s a global pandemic that forces you to make moves or get left behind. Adaptation – See previous. Ingenuity – Because we are always creating customized experiences. On this road trip, we got to safely travel to parts of the country we had never seen before.

Contact Info:

  • Instagram: @BenNemzer @Songstressofmagic


Image Credits

The black and white photo with the bridge is by “Sweet Monday Photography” We have full rights over all of the other photos but happy to provide photo credits for any that you want to use anyway.

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