Young magician prefers classic stage magic

April 20, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Jay Mattioli decided at a young age that he wanted to work as a magician. This weekend, he will perform at The Maryland Theatre in the Family Evening of Comedy and Magic.
Submitted photo

Do you believe in magic?

If not, you haven’t met Jay Mattioli.

One minute, he’s showing you his bare hand. The next, it’s on fire.

And was that a person levitating above the floor?

Mattioli is a magic man.

Give him some props and a stage and he’ll make your mind jump through hoops.

On Saturday, Mattioli will bring his award-winning act to the stage of The Maryland Theatre for the fifth annual Family Evening of Comedy and Magic.

The show is sponsored by Safe Place and the Antietam Exchange Club, with all proceeds benefiting Safe Place, the local child advocacy center.

Ever since he was a small boy growing up in the Poconos, Mattioli has been fascinated with illusion.

It all began, he said, when he got caught up in the tricks performed at one of his birthday parties. Magic quickly became a hobby.

By the time he was 13, he already was dreaming of making it his career.

“I started just putting on little shows for family, friends and friends of friends,” he said. “I then began hiring myself out to perform for birthdays and Boy Scouts.”

Following high school graduation, Mattioli said he attended college and received a Bachelor of Arts in graphic arts.

Though he was glad he pursued a college education — “It taught me to deal with life” — he knew he wanted to be a magician.

And he began working hard at making it happen — gaining experience and recognition, including numerous top prizes from the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the 2001 Spotlight Spectacular Stage Contest and People’s Choice Awards.

Today, Mattioli, who resides in Manassas, Va., travels the world, entertaining audiences with the art of illusion.

He has performed across the United States and Europe, as well as in Egypt, Qatar and Kuwait and has appeared at colleges, resort hotels, on cruise lines and on television, including “America’s Got Talent.”

Mattioli said his act is a combination of illusion, comedy, audience interaction, special effects lighting, music and dance.

“Many of my illusions are performed fast, yet not very serious,” he said. “Michael Jackson was my first real entertainment hero and still is. He was the greatest entertainer ever. So I studied him while I was growing up. A little of him has influenced my act.”

But, in many ways, Mattioli said, he still is old school when it comes to performing magic.

“I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but what the young public has seen as magic on television is mostly junk and is not viable in a real, live, show setting,” he said. “Despite magic on TV making our art stay in the headlines, it’s creating a new breed of magician without class. I miss the day of a classic, yet slick, magic act being on top.”

The only way the talent of a magician can be appreciated, he said, is not on a television screen, but “if you actually perform in front a live audience thousands of times.”

Although the art is centuries-old, Mattioli said magic still has strong appeal in a modern, high-tech world.

“Magic gives people a sense, that despite all our troubles of day-to-day living, there is still hope that something unexplainable, joyous and amazing can still happen,” he said. “That’s the emotion people get when they see an incredible trick or laugh when they see something funny. It’s so cool to be able to do that for people.”

If you go ..
WHAT: Fifth annual Family Evening of Comedy and Magic.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23
WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown
COST: $20
CONTACT: To purchase tickets, go to or call 301-790-3500

Submitted photo
Magician Jay Mattioli knew he wanted to be a magician by the time he was 13. He’ll perform Saturday at The Maryland Theatre for the fifth annual Family Evening of Comedy and Magic.

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