KINGSTON, RI – October 4, 2016 – The University of Rhode Island, URI Student Entertainment Committee (SEC) and Spectra by Comcast Spectacor are pleased to announce that season 9 winner of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Mat Franco, will be returning to URI Saturday, Feb.11 at the Ryan Center as part of URI’s 125th Anniversary celebrations. Tickets are set to go on sale for the general public Friday, Oct. 7 at 10 AM.
A Johnston, R.I. native and 2010 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Franco is the first and only magician ever to win NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Almost entirely self-taught, Franco began staging his own shows before the age of 10 and quickly cultivated a performance style that highlighted his natural warmth and wit. On the heels of his victory in America’s Got Talent season 9, Franco is now headlining his show “Magic Reinvented Nightly” at the LINQ Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, an improvisation-fueled act offering boundless fun and a stunning sense of thrill and wonder.
Growing up in Johnston, R.I., Franco first became fascinated with magic at age 4. “I basically spent my whole childhood teaching myself by taping magic shows off the TV and watching them over and over in slow motion, trying to figure out all the tricks,” says Franco. At age 12—after years of sharpening his craft by practicing for his family and friends and delivering on-the-fly performances at his older brothers’ wrestling matches and football games—Franco headed to Las Vegas to join in a three-day program that allowed him to study under a host of magicians previously featured on NBC’s The World’s Greatest Magic. Thanks to an act he developed on his own and honed through an ever-growing number of gigs at local events and parties, Franco returned to Las Vegas three years later and took the stage at the Riviera Hotel & Casino as part of the Society of American Magicians National Convention.
After finishing high school, Franco began studying business at the University of Rhode Island, balancing his coursework with a steadily flourishing career powered by word-of-mouth marketing. And in performing for his peers during his time as a student, he soon discovered that the college crowd provided a perfect audience for his humor-infused take on magic. Over the next four years, Franco toured the country performing at colleges and universities, fast earning recognition as an in-demand act and eventually winning the 2013 Male Performer of The Year award from Campus Activities magazine. Then, in early 2014, he decided to expand his reach even further by auditioning for America’s Got Talent.
“People had been telling me to try out for years, and finally I just auditioned on a whim,” he said. “I had no intentions of actually getting on the show—mostly it just seemed like a fun challenge to try to put together a piece of material that could work for a live audience but also engage the people watching at home.” Noting that his time on America’s Got Talent went a long way in fine-tuning his performance skills, Franco says he hopes his triumph over 100,000 aspirants might have a broader impact on his chosen field. “To be honest, I didn’t expect to see any magician win the show,” he admits. “Magic requires a different kind of attention than what’s needed for something like music, and sometimes it can be a challenge to get people to connect. My hope in all this is that I’ve done something that will help move the art of magic forward.”
Tickets to see Franco at the Ryan Center start at $20 for the general public. Tickets are available Oct. 7 online at www.theryancenter.com, charge by phone at 1.855.387.4849, or at the Ryan Center Box Office.
For more information about the show please visit www.theryancenter.com
For all media requests, contact Matt Moeller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401.788.3230.
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