Comedy magician Trent James performs at CMU March 12
Unlike most magicians, Trent James revealed the secrets behind his tricks, to some extent. He pretended to explain them without giving away any real answers, to the amusement and frustration of audience members.
James performed in Warriner Hall Plachta Auditorium at 7 p.m. on March 12, in an event hosted by Central Michigan University Program Board. The show consisted of sleight of hand magic, improv and comedy interwoven throughout the performance.
“Magic and comedy add to each other well," James said. "As a performer, I like to keep things very light and fun. There's a few moments of seriousness, but right after that, it's 'oh wait, no this isn't what you think it is.'"
Attendance was moderate, but James' show attracted a wide variety of audience members from the Mount Pleasant community, alongside CMU students.
"(James) was definitely more comedic, funny and family-oriented, which was really interesting because I didn't expect that," said Program Board special events coordinator Kelly Gonzales. "But I really appreciated that when I saw a whole bunch of little kids come and leave with their faces looking overjoyed."
In his performance, James relied on numerous props and an active audience to assist in a wide variety of tricks, including Oxford freshman Lindsey Rancilio. She had never been to a magic show before, but tonight she had the opportunity to perform in one.
"It was interesting, I didn't know what to expect," Rancilio said. "I thought 'why not try (volunteering to participate)?' It was really easy and I didn't feel intimidated or anything, but it was really fun."
At only 22 years of age, James is the youngest recipient of the Milbourne Christopher Award and has received awards from both The International Brotherhood of Magicians and The Society of American Magicians.
James has performed across the country from his hometown in Chicago to Las Vegas, with a focus on colleges.
"These students are all young, and I feel like I'm at the perfect age to be doing this," James said. "I'm performing for my peers pretty much, and I feel like I can be very relatable with that. I think it's cool to see someone who's younger on stage doing a show."
As a younger performer, James has brought a fresh outlook on what it means to be a "nontraditional" magician.
"I feel like nontraditional has become the traditional," James said. "So I don't know what I'm doing, I'm being me, I'm having fun. I think it would be silly if I walked out on stage with a top hat and tails and been like 'this is me.'"
James is the last magician scheduled for the semester, but Gonzales has felt that James and magician Mat Lavore, who performed in January, have both been able to successfully connect with attendees.
"I never thought I would have this opportunity in a million years (to plan events like these) and I am so grateful to CMU for letting me get people to come out and enjoy something they probably wouldn't have," Gonzales said. "It definitely makes my heart happy when I see people come, even a small crowd. In that small crowd, you're still making someone's day better."