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Holladay Journal

Magician Paul Draper mystifies audience with impossible feats of mentalism and magic

Mar 08, 2023 12:32PM ● By Collette Hayes

The Achter family with Paul Draper. Following the performance, Paul Draper met audience members in the hall for a brief reception and photos. (Collette Hayes/City Journals)

Award-winning and internationally acclaimed magician Paul Draper took the stage at Holladay City auditorium Jan. 19 and provided an emotional 90-minute journey of suspense, stop and think moments and never-ending, edge-of-the-seat wonderment and awe.

A deep-rooted Holladay resident, Draper has traveled the world bending the rules of reality through mentalism and magic leaving behind audiences who remain entranced by the mysterious and searching for answers long after the curtain falls to a close. 

Draper’s magic show, Mysteries of the Mind, is specifically tailored to fit each audience. He has been performing his show for audiences in Holladay for the last five years free of charge. Due to limited seating in the City Hall auditorium, tickets have been required for the show. Over the years, tickets have continued to be claimed within hours of becoming available to the public. The event is sponsored by Holladay City and the Holladay Arts Council. Sheryl Gillilan, executive director of the Holladay Arts Council, and her committee are responsible for organizing and running the well-attended annual event. 

“About five years ago, local artist Jim McGee proposed the Arts Council sponsor a portrait art exhibit in the main foyer of City Hall,” Gillilan said. “Jim proposed to introduce himself to select individuals in Holladay, ask them if they were willing to be interviewed and to share their stories. Following the interview, he planned to complete a portrait of the person.

“Paul Draper was one of the people Jim selected to be included in the portrait art exhibit. On opening night of the exhibit, a reception was held and Paul Draper was in attendance. Because he is a character and a performer, he announced to everyone attending, ‘Hey everybody! I grew up in Holladay. Holladay City Hall at one time was Holladay Elementary. This is where I went to elementary school. When I was in second grade, I performed my first magic show on the stage in the lunchroom. I’d like to do some magic for you.’ He then took a spoon out of his pocket handed it to me and proceeded to bend it while I held the spoon in my hand. It's really funny. I still have the spoon, but I have never been able to unbend it. I asked Paul if he would be willing to do a magic performance at City Hall, and he agreed. People all over the world hire him to perform magic, and we are very lucky he is willing to come back each year.”

Draper opened the Thursday night performance by welcoming the audience, and in mid-sentence he burst into song with an Italian opera melody. Continuing the opening conversation with the audience, he discovered a member of the audience was celebrating her birthday and promptly sang “Happy Birthday” to her in Hebrew.

Draper’s educational background is diverse. He studied opera at the University of Utah, received a bachelor’s degree from Weber State in cultural anthropology and received a master’s degree in political rhetoric at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he also was a faculty member in the Department of Communications. 

In a recent conversation with Draper, he pointed out that young people interested in pursuing a career in magic performance can begin to prepare by taking classes in a variety of disciplines.  Draper’s study of anthropology contributed to his success in understanding others—their body language, ideas, thoughts and actions contributing to his success in mentalism performance. 

“When I attended high school and college diversity in class selection was always important to me,” Draper said. “I studied theater all through junior high and high school. Also, in high school I competed both on the debate team and in oratory performance winning at the state level yearly. Instead of taking physical education in high school, I elected to study dance. I studied opera performance in college but also completed a degree in anthropology.”

Draper’s educational preparation, skill development and talent has led him along a magical career path as the house magician at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas for seven years and opportunities to appear on numerous television shows including “Entertainment Tonight” and shows on the Hallmark Channel. He continually receives rave reviews about his magical performance from noted media such as the L.A. Times and the New York Times. 

Draper performed more magic tricks and impossible feats of mentalism than a person could shake a magic wand at during the City Hall performance. Everything from pouring water from an inexhaustible water bowl, to guessing who the audience artist was when looking at several different drawings. 

Five-year-old Ellie Achter jumped out of her seat at the chance to be on stage with the world-famous magician. Draper selected Ellie out of the audience to participate in a soap bubble magic trick. Ellie climbed the steps up to the stage, hopped up on a chair and gently began to blow soap bubbles from Draper’s magic soap bubble wand. To her amazement and the audiences’, Ellie blew a solid, iridescent soap bubble that Draper caught in his hand leaving the audience in whispering wonderment. “That can’t be possible. OK, how did he do that?” 

Draper handed Ellie the soap bubble bottle and the solid, transparent bubble and said, “Ellie you have been so good. You made this beautiful bubble out of a wish, and so now, the bottle of soap bubbles and the magic, solid soap bubble belong to you.”

Following the performance, Draper met audience members in the hall for a brief reception and photos. Adults and children crowded around Draper hoping he would reveal to them just a few of his secrets and explain the wonderment they had experienced during the show. Unfortunately, Draper, like all magicians, keeps his secrets of mystery tucked securely up his sleeve. 

For more information about Paul Draper and his Mysteries of the Mind show visit his website at: