Angela Morgan
The Mentalist

Inside the mind of Marc Salem

Marc Salem, renowned mentalist, mind reader and expert in non-verbal communication, brings "Mind Over Milwaukee" to the Milwaukee Rep through Feb. 24.

By - Jan 3rd, 2013 12:26 pm

Marc Salem plays one of his mind games with members from the audience during “Mind Over Milwaukee” at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. All photos courtesy the Milwaukee Rep.

We are told at the beginning of the show that we’ll be experiencing established psychological techniques—nothing supernatural, nothing with the occult.

Mentalism: A performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, mind control, memory feats and rapid mathematics.

Marc Salem is a renowned mentalist, mind reader and expert in non-verbal communication. He’s been a student of the mind for the last 30 years, been a faculty member at several major universities over the last 20 years and has traveled the world extensively as a speaker.

A simple living room setup filled the stage: one large bookcase, a reading chair and a desk. Salem starts out with a “randomizer,” a crumpled up piece of paper, which is thrown around the room to select participants for his show of mental gymnastics. The first thing he asks the audience is to think of two different double-digit odd numbers between one and 51. Surprise! He chose my number, which almost 1/2 of the audience selected. Not sure how that happened. In fact, he chose my number for his different mind games several times over the course of the night. It was quite surprising.

Emphasizing non-verbal communication many times during the show, Salem’s theme was how the mind creates reality. 80 percent of what we say is how we say it, not what is said. This principal allows him to do what he does.

Another game he plays with the audience is having five people onstage with him with a 30 second drawing they made. He asks each of them if they made the drawing and they are all instructed to say no, even if it is theirs. Based on movements and emotion he is able to tell who is lying signifying it is their drawing. One person didn’t look at him for one drawing telling Marc it was theirs, one person looked down and to the left when their actual photo came up (aka, the Bill Clinton) and another rapidly blinked their eyes when their photo was up (aka, the George Bush) deeming that all five audience members were honest people.

Fans of the TV shows The Mentalist and Lie To Me will love this show. In fact, Lie to Me is based on one of Marc Salem’s mentors. Salem’s funny one-liners through the show and lots of audience participation keeps everyone engaged until the end.

Even though there are proven psychological strategies explaining most everything in Salem does, the show still leaves shocked and amazed at the power of the mind.

Marc Salem’s Mind Over Milwaukee runs now through Feb. 24 at The Stackner Cabaret at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. For more information and tickets, visit

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