Abracadabra Club brings magic to BYU

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The BYU Abracadabra Magic Club proves that magic is more than birthday parties or bunny rabbits; students perform professionally, and the club continues its crowd-wowing tricks with shows at The Wall, BYU basketball games and professional events.

Students react to a magic trick by Cameron Smith at The Wall. (Cameron Smith)
Students react to a magic trick by Cameron Smith at The Wall. (Cameron Smith)

The club began in 2014, and tricks include everything from mental magic to card tricks, rope tricks and escape artistry. Magician Cameron Smith is a BYU junior from Orem studying information systems. Smith is one of five original members of the club, and he said magic began as a hobby but has become an art form and even a professional career.

The University of Utah has a magic group that may go head-to-head with BYU’s club in a friendly competition sometime in the future, according to Smith.

Magic styles range from comedy to close-up. Smith said some people dislike card tricks, but he and the group continually research new illusions and techniques. Smith received a magic kit from his grandmother when he was 8 years old, and he continues to learn through instructional videos, books and close friends.

John Meservy is one of Smith’s friends; the two went to Orem High School and dove into all things magic during their teenage years. Meservy said he and Smith practiced for two to three hours preparing for the club’s upcoming charity event.

The group performed a charity show in the Wilkinson Student Center Varsity Theatre Feb. 27. All proceeds went to the Orphanages Support Services Organization. The club is also making its way into BYU sports halftime shows, including basketball and volleyball. Theron Christensen, a BYU student from Vernal, studying philosophy, performs at New Student Orientation.

Theron Christensen invites a child onstage to participate in his trick. Christensen has been performing magic professionally for four years. (Theron Christensen)
Theron Christensen invites a child onstage to participate in his trick. Christensen has been performing magic professionally for four years. (Theron Christensen)

To these men, magic is more than fooling a crowd. Magic can even become a professional job. Christensen has been working professionally in magic for four years. Smith has also performed paid events and enjoys working for an older audience. He said he has a more “mature style” to his magic.

Magic allowed Smith to open up and be more social. He said the more a person knows about something, the more creative that person can be. “Now that I know so much more, I can think about what effect I want to create. Do I want to make a card disappear or change? Should I make it more comedy or serious?” Smith said.

He also said magic is not about fooling people anymore; it’s about entertaining people. An audience at a corporate event doesn’t care about little details as long as they’re having a good time, Smith said.

Christensen said his favorite trick, “The Hospitality Illusion,” took him 12 years to master. In this trick, he pours a dozen different drinks, from root beer to orange juice, out of the same pitcher into different glasses. He then gives the drinks to audience members. Christensen said he still learns new tricks and finds the best tricks in books.

The group hopes to see women join as well. One woman has joined the group, and new members often work with more experienced club members to improve their talents. Smith said magic is a male-dominated art, but nothing is stopping women from joining.

Magician Cameron Smith shows off his rope tricks. Smith has turned his hobby of magic into an art form and a career. (Cameron Smith)
Magician Cameron Smith shows off his rope tricks. Smith has turned his hobby of magic into an art form and a career. (Cameron Smith)

Meservy’s inspiration for magic comes from Mac King and Tommy Cooper, who specialize in comedy magic. “Magic has changed from stumping people to entertaining people,” Meservy said.

Christensen enjoys Lance Burton and Tommy Wonder, and Smith likes David Williamson. “There aren’t a lot of performers in Utah,” Christensen said, “but there has been a resurgence of more magic on TV shows and in movies.”

Recent magic-themed movies include “Now You See Me,” “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige.” Television shows like “Fool Us,” “Masters of Illusion” and “Wizard Wars” bring magicians back into the spotlight.

The Abracadabra Club received 30–40 interested members during Involvapalooza Week, but Smith said they have about 10 active members and are continually seeking new faces.

“Magic has the potential to open doors to service,” Christensen said. “I would love to go into hospitals, because kids don’t get to see that. We are making things happen that are impossible and teaching them that you can do impossible things.”

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