The all too familiar aura filled the room with anxiety, as phones slowly begin to slide into pockets and the faint conversations flatten into non-existent thoughts.
The wait for the magician seems to be the longest as anticipation builds while minds wander to possible tricks or stunts they may see. But in all reality, everything is a mystery until he steps up on stage, gracing the crowd with his confidence and genuine smile.
A flood of laughter, not typically heard from an act of this caliber, filled the Fuller Arts Auditorium and rang through the night.
Comedy hasn’t always been a part of his act, however, past experiences have taught him a few things. Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., Justin Willman, who started magic at the age of 12, believes comedy is an important part to his show.
“When I first started I tried to be serious and I realized that it rubs people the wrong way,” stated Willman, who performed this past Saturday night as a part of the Family Weekend programing.
“When I put comedy in the act, it made it more fun for me, and it gives me a chance to blow peoples minds while making them laugh.”
Laughter and interaction were all part of the perfectly crafted show Willman put on in front of 50 Springfield College families. By taking audience members up on stage, stealing their phones, and even making one member use a lighter, Willman used the crowd to his advantage.
What was slotted as an hour magic show felt like only five minutes due to Willman’s preparation, delivery and showmanship when it was his turn to take the spotlight.
A regular guest on the Ellen Show, Willman is no stranger to the fame, thanks to his comedy/magic act. However, his stardom can also be attributed to his role as host on the popular Food Network show, Cupcake Wars.
“I was in the right place at the wrong time,” joked Willman, who claims to having never baked a cupcake before. “I was auditioning for other TV shows and I just happened to be what they were looking for. It was one of the auditions where you think ‘This show will never work.’”
Five years and nine seasons later, Willman still has the flair and love for magic and stardom as he did when he was 12. Filled with that passion on stage, his presence as a magician is calming and easy to watch.
Willman admits, however, that it is hard to do magic these days because everyone wants to debunk the tricks. Yet he stills believes that magic is about the wonder and the feeling people get when they see him perform a trick.
Persisting his audience to live in the moment, Willman truly captured what it is like to disconnect and understand that paying attention is more important than the latest tweet.
These words may have been said before but it was Willman’s sincere passion that engrained it into his audience’s heads. Live in the moment, for what else is there to live for?