CCU music theatre student works magicby Mona Prufer
Matthew McCoy is not your ordinary college student. At age 21, he is an accomplished magician, singer, dancer and actor with plans to graduate from Coastal Carolina University with a BFA degree in musical theatre in May.
He is also currently coordinating “Magic at the Beach,” his third regional convention being held Jan. 12-14 at the Gilmore Auditorium (Carolina Opry) that brings together more than 300 magicians from across the country. As talent and show director, McCoy lines up the performers, puts together the acts, books travel and hotel rooms and more for the gathering, considered to be South Carolina's premier magic convention.
“I got lucky to get this job and book all the talent for the convention and direct all the shows. I don't honestly know anyone else my age who has gotten to do this and feel really blessed to have this amazing opportunity,” says McCoy.
In addition to his theater studies, which involve a lot of performing (he was most recently in “Boeing Boeing” by Atlantic Stage), McCoy also works part-time at Ruby Tuesday restaurant. “My friends get annoyed with me because I don't hang out with them; they don't understand that I just don't have the time,” says the student who has been involved with magic since he was five years old. His early tricks were classics like the cups and balls sleight of hand, the magic flower that appears and disappears, the vase with reappearing ball.
“My mom and dad were involved with a clown ministry at our church in Jacksonville, Fla., my hometown, so that was my first introduction to performance.”
After the family moved to Irmo, McCoy became a regular at the local magic shop, which led to a lifelong fascination with magic and performing. He started putting on shows on the kids' birthday party circuit, and a star was born.
At 14, he and a magician friend produced the Midland's Magic & Award Show, the first of its kind, in 2004. “By the time I was 16, I had won first place in the youth stage contest at both the South Carolina Association of Magicians (SCAM) convention and the Daytona Florida Festival of Magic. By 17, I was being coached by international magician Jade, who took me to London as her assistant to experience Europe working in a professional theatre with a superb international lineup,” says McCoy.
In addition to the revue shows and managing a magic shop part time, McCoy began working the local comedy club and continued competing in magic convention contests.
During his three and a half years at Coastal, McCoy has appeared in theatre productions including: “POPart,” “The Blue Room,” “Company,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “The Music Man,” “A Servant of Two Masters” and a staged reading of Marc Hollman's new musical “BIGFOOT: And Other Lost Souls.”
Early in his college career, Matthew was approached by Roman lePree and Dave Tanner, owners of the Broadway Magic shop in Myrtle Beach. They were seeking help in organizing the area's first magic convention in 2009. Now in his third year as talent and show director, McCoy has been inspired by the magicians he works with to combine theatre and magic and to make it his career path.
“I was lucky enough to know enough people in magic,” says McCoy. “I had a long line of help with pep talks, mentors and just inspirational people.”
Though most of the three-day magic convention is closed to the general public, there is a stage show scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Gilmore Auditorium. General admission is $25-$40, depending on where the seats are located, but CCU students, faculty and staff (with ID) receive a special discount of $20 per ticket. There is also a $25 ticket charge for local residents.
For tickets call the Gilmore Auditorium at 843-626-8191.
For more information, visit www.magicatthebeach.org.