America's Got Talent illusionist performs on campus
A semi-finalist of “America’s Got Talent” aspired to show the "urban, edgy and dangerous" world of magic in a Program Board special event.
Professional illusionist and New York native Elliot Zimet used live doves, flames and a levitating table during his show Jan. 30 in Plachta Auditorium.
Zimet was a semi-finalist on season one of "America's Got Talent".
More than 100 Central Michigan University students and community members filled the venue’s lower level to watch Zimet’s performance.
Zimet has previously performed in venues like Madison Square Garden in New York City. He has also toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Zimet kicked off the evening by lighting up his two hands of cards with flames. Two white doves emerged from the fire and flapped their wings in his palms.
His illusions consisted of a spinning, hypnotic wheel that allowed audience members to see his head enlarge and shrink. He also presented a floating rose made out of kleenex that transformed into an actual rose after meeting a lighter in mid-air.
Battle Creek junior Olivia Franklin, who serves as Program Board’s special events director, started planning for the event with the aid of Zimet’s agent in October.
“Students at CMU really have a pattern of loving magic, illusionists, psychics and hypnotists," Franklin said. "Every time I ask students what they want to see I am fairly confident that they’ll request those types of mystical things."
Franklin first saw Zimet perform during a conference hosted by the National Association for Campus Activities.
“He gave off this college vibe that I could notice right away," she said. "He likes to do a lot of big, hype acts and is very in your face."
She said Zimet’s approach and perspective of magic strays far from traditional magic shows.
“Tonight we’re really trying to bring something fresh to campus,” Franklin said. “We want to see our audiences leaving with more excitement than what they arrived with. We want them wanting to see more of him and to be looking him up on YouTube.”
Battle Creek sophomore Pravallika Chirumamilla arrived to the venue with her nine friends longing for a break from her school work.
“This is such a fun way to relax from all of the stress already setting in this semester," Chirumamilla said. "This is a pretty amazing way to escape from all the classwork and to have your mind blown."
Chirumamilla said Zimet’s stage presence was full of big, dramatic gestures.
For example, her favorite act featured her friend Shane Guenin, an Indiana sophomore, as one of the show’s frequent audience participants. Guenin fired a paintball gun into the magician’s mouth while Zimet would catch the ammunition with his teeth.
Southfield freshman Dana Watkins said she enjoyed the show’s use of popular music and humor to relate to the college-based audience.
“(Zimet) made really funny jokes that just kept pertaining to college students," she said. "He has this sort of crude humor that we can’t help but to connect with."
Her favorite trick of the evening was of him swallowing a sewing needle and removing it from his throat with a length of string.
“Everyone was so warm and welcoming,” Zimet said in regards to his first visit to CMU. “Everyone put the show together in such a fine way. It was just helpful and makes my life much easier.”