I first noticed Mat Franco when he did an amazing disappearing cell phone trick on the NBC show America's Got Talent. He went on to win the America's Got Talent competition for 2014. As I recall, he said in one of his appearances that it was his dream to have his own magic show on the Las Vegas Strip and winning the award would help him achieve that dream.
Fast forward to late 2015 and Mat Franco does indeed have his own show at The Linq hotel/casino on the Strip. If you aren't familiar with The Linq, it is the property between Flamingo and Harrah's on the east side of the Strip that keeps changing names. In 2012, the name was changed from the Imperial Palace to the Quad. Then, in 2014, it changed again to the Linq. Whatever the name, it has a medium-sized showroom where Mat Franco can now be found.
As a very amateur magician and fan of the art of magic, I was highly impressed by Franco's cell phone trick. When I heard he was coming to Vegas, I knew it was a show I couldn't miss. However, as a cheap bastard, I have an almost religious aversion to paying full price for a Las Vegas show. When a $35 coupon code for locals appeared in the local newspaper, I was there.
I think I know magic well enough to say Mat Franco is a magician's magician. If you're looking for grand illusions like making an elephant disappear, then you should probably see another show. However, if you respect the art of slight-of-hand illusions, then Mat Franco is about the best I have ever seen. Many of his tricks are variations of classics, like the cups and balls, wine bottles and glass of wine, and making cards appear out of thin air. Perhaps you have seen these tricks before, but Franco does them so very well and puts twists on them that I haven't seen before.
He also does completely fresh tricks. For one, he does the cell phone trick from America's Got Talent, but done a bit differently. Another trick involves cards jumping from one audience member to another, which seems to be the most humorous part of the show. His closing number involves shooting hundreds of cards from an air cannon all over the audience, some of which are recovered by audience members and summarize bits of information about audience members revealed throughout the show.
As in juggling, to make it financially as a magician requires more than just magic tricks. One must also have an engaging rapport with the audience. Throughout the show, Franco is highly engaging and most tricks involve audience participation. He chats with the volunteers a lot and seems good at improvisational give and take. I'd like to point out he doesn't overly embarrass volunteers, as some magicians do, or use audience plants, as near as I can tell. One thing that is clear is Franco is grateful for his Vegas show and comes off as a nice, approachable young guy.
In closing, I left Franco's show extremely impressed and happy, as well as eager to encourage others to see his show in Vegas. Hopefully he will stick around town a while.