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Holladay Journal

Seasoned performer Paul Draper returns to his hometown to do a FREE show

Jan 17, 2019 12:20PM ● By Lindsey Baxter

Paul Draper entertaining the crowd. (Courtesy of Paul Draper)

By Lindsey Baxter | [email protected]

Paul Draper grew up in Holladay, Utah. He went to Holladay Elementary, Olympus Junior High School and Olympus High School. He continued his education earning three degrees with a bachelor’s of musical theater, a bachelor’s of cultural anthropology and a master’s in political rhetoric. He taught at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) before becoming a full-time magician and mentalist. He currently sits on the board for the Inclusion Center for Community of Injustice and does a variety of charity work in Utah. 

Draper first found his love of magic as a young child reading books and teaching himself how to do tricks. His first show was at Holladay Elementary School on the stage in the lunch room when he was in second grade. When he was in Mrs. Lorraine Billings’ classroom at the age of 8, Billings could tell he had a special talent and helped nurture him. She loved his performance so much she had him come back and do a show for her class every year from the age of 8 to 18. Not only did this make him work harder to learn new tricks to continue to impress Billings, but it also continued to deepen his interest, skill and love of magic. As he has traveled the world performing magic and mentalist shows, he is ready to return to where it all started, here in Holladay. Draper will be performing a free show to the community where it started, now the Holladay City Hall, on January 25, 2019 beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets need to be picked up in person starting January 7, 2019, up to four per person, at City Hall, as they are limited to 200 seats for the downstairs auditorium. 

In 2003, Draper was the house magician for the Venetian for seven years. Since he left the Venetian, he has traveled the world doing a variety of shows and appeared on numerous television shows. Draper has received reviews from places like the Yale Daily News, J.J. Abrams, Mark Steines, Clark Nguyen (Berkeley University), Rick Lax (Las Vegas Weekly) and the L. A. Times. The reviews he receives are wonderful and make the audience want to learn how he does what he does. If you want to see and learn a little more about Draper, you can at

Sheryl Gillilan, executive director of the Holladay Arts Council, is extremely excited to have Draper perform. “Last year the Holladay Arts Council gave a grant to artist James McGee to interview random residents from our city and then profile their stories and draw large graphite portraits of each person. We hosted the resulting exhibition, Crossing Paths, at City Hall. Paul Draper was one of the profiled residents and he attended the opening reception. He wowed the gathering with some magic tricks, and when I was talking to him afterwards he mentioned he had attended Holladay Elementary School (now City Hall) as a kid and done his first performance on the stage downstairs. We both thought it would be a great ‘full circle’ story if he came back to perform as a professional magician, so we arranged for this performance. He’s quite a character and showman, and we’re excited to have him back where it all started,” Gillilan said.

Some may not be familiar with what a mentalist is, and Draper explains it easily. “The idea of mentalism is much of the work of ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ One that is able to observe the body language, the ideas, the thoughts, and the actions of others. And as such, read their minds,” Draper says. Draper said he has one of the largest collections of magic books in the world and is an avid collector of magic literature as well as an academic.

If you have any questions about tickets or the show, please contact Gillilan at 801-527-2677