Mat Franco, winner of America’s Got Talent season 9, and University of Rhode Island alumni, is bringing his charismatic and innovative magic act to the Ryan Center this Saturday as part of the school’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
Franco grew up in Johnston, Rhode Island and graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2010. “I couldn’t be more honored to come back for the 125th anniversary,” Franco said. “I’ve never performed in the Ryan Center before. It’s going to be surreal.”
Franco has been creating and performing his own shows since he was about 10 years old and created a stage presence and performance style that aptly highlights his persona, one that’s charming and playful. Franco says his love of performing comes in part from helping others escape the stress of the day-to-day life, he enjoys bringing them on a journey to experience an alternate reality without deadlines and emails.
He is known for wowing the judges and audience on America’s Got Talent with his natural comfort on stage and connection to the people he is performing for. “I started too young to be afraid,” Franco said when asked if stage fright was something he had to overcome. He started practicing magic at just 4 years old and is almost entirely self taught in the art.
Franco says that he has always been someone who dives fully into his work, which surely played into his magic career. “I’m still a student of magic,” he said. Even after practicing magic for over 20 years he continues to practice and learn new tricks. Franco said that he can’t say exactly what we could expect from him this weekend because he always improvises his set a little, like a band would do, but we can expect some fan favorite tricks as well as some new material.
Now Franco headlines his own show on the Las Vegas Strip at the LINQ Hotel and Casino. “Magic Reinvented Nightly” is an improvisation-fueled act offering boundless fun and a stunning sense of thrill and wonder. Just recently “Magic Reinvented Nightly” was awarded “Best Show” on the Las Vegas Strip in the “Las Vegas Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards”.
Many people are familiar with his aptitude for card tricks, which was highlighted during his run on America’s Got Talent, but they’re not his favorite tricks to perform. “I love making things or people disappear and reappear,” he said. “I can guarantee there will be one or two of these tricks in the show.”
“My career exploded to a different degree than I could have imagined,” Franco said reflecting on the aftermath of his America’s Got Talent win. Franco loves getting the chance to perform on stage, even saying he prefers stage performances to street level magic for small crowds. “I much prefer being on stage,” he said. “You feel the energy and draw from the audience and they draw from you. When you’re on the stage you can take advantage of the music and production. It feels good to be in a traditional theatrical environment.”
Don’t miss Franco’s performance this Saturday, February 11th at the Ryan Center. The show begins at 7 p.m. for a “magical” night of pure fun and laughs.