Magician Mat Franco made his return to the University of Rhode Island at a sold-out event at Edwards Auditorium on Friday night.
It was Franco’s first show in Rhode Island since he won season nine of “America’s Got Talent” in September.
The show was sponsored by the Student Entertainment Committee as the finale of Winterfest 2014. It the first SEC event to sell out Edwards Auditorium since an event featuring actor Norman Reedus in March 2013.
In front of a crowd that included his grandmother and parents, Franco performed a routine featuring several fan favorite tricks as well as ones that had not been performed in front of any audience before.
Franco, who graduated from URI in 2010, engaged the crowd with his humorous banter throughout the set. He said that he wanted to impress those that had seen his show before or watch magic with a critical eye.
Starting out with an array of disappearing playing card illusions, the remainder of Franco’s show involved more elaborate tricks involving audience participation.
In one trick, Franco turned a $20 bill signed by an audience member into a $1 note, only for it to later appear in a sealed flavor packet inside of a package of ramen noodles.
Another trick featured four cards that had been tucked into a volunteer’s boot and were transferred to the pocket of another volunteer standing on the opposite edge of the stage.
In a new routine at the end of his performance, Franco switched the places of a bottle and a glass of water while they were hidden under tubes. Throughout the trick, more bottles appeared out of the tubes until there were ten on the table upon completion.
Following his 45-minute performance, Franco took several questions from the audience on topics ranging from his newly found fame to his days at URI.
When asked how it felt to win “America’s Got Talent,” Franco said that the audience at home was probably more nervous than he was during the live telecast.
“When you’re in it and you’re there, it almost feels like a dream, It almost just feels like you’re kind of going through the motions of the whole thing,” he said. “It’s kind of an overwhelming numb feeling of ‘Is this really happening right now?’”
“It feels very strange and surreal to win and you just got to be thankful for it,” he added.
He said that he had no expectations of getting on the show. When he auditioned, he thought that the best-case scenario would be that he would appear in a montage or receive an audition segment on the program.
“As things kept moving forward, I was just trying to survive, I was just trying to hang on,” he said. “It never occurred to me until it was just me and Emily West standing there that there was actually a 50/50 chance I might win this.”
In response to a question about his favorite memories from URI, Franco said that most of them were from during his time as an orientation leader.
He said that out of all the extracurricular activities he participated in, it is the one that stands out in his memory.
“You move in together for the summertime for a month or five weeks or whatever it is, and man, it’s just an awesome time,” he said. “You learn a lot about your people skills and you learn a lot about yourself.”
When asked if he would be able to return for orientation next summer, Franco said that he hoped he would be able to.
“I don’t know where I’ll be, but if I can be here, you know there’s no other place I’d rather be,” he said.
Franco said that his future touring plans had yet to be announced, but would be made official some time in the early 2015.