By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service
October 17, 2011
(This story appeared October 20, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)
Salem, Massachusetts—Evan Northrup’s plan as he stepped on campus at Brown University was not necessarily to become a magician. In fact, the Salem native says he didn’t have a plan at all.
Now a professional magician, the 22-year old graduate with a degree in Hispanic Studies is taking a break from touring during October to bring his magic show home to Salem. As part of its 2011 Haunted Happenings, the Salem Theatre Company will host Northrup in 18 shows of “Tricks and Treats, ” October 22-29 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Performances are 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. All tickets are $10.
As a kid, Northrup was active in clubs, boy scouts, dance lessons, and music. But when he was eight years old, his father showed him a card trick that fascinated—and confounded—him. So he studied the trick, and then studied more, determined to master it.
“It’s an addiction,” he said. “It’s bad. And it’s been like that ever since.”
At college, though, Northrup didn’t do much magic—at least not for long. He majored in Spanish but also learned to speak Greek, Italian and a bit of French. Eventually, he found a way to couple his love for language with magic during a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain.
When the semester ended and with nothing but his bag of tricks and a handful of change, Northrup performed for a month on the streets of Europe simply to see if he could get by. He went from city to city performing in different languages, then took his day’s pay to sleep in a hostel.
“I said, ‘I’m going to learn how to street perform well’ and there is no better learning curve than saying ‘you will sleep on the street tonight,’” said Northrup. Many nights, Northrup did settle under bridges or on the streets.
Still, he wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would his family.
“I do get the occasional comment, ‘I can’t believe you went to Brown to become a clown,’” said Northrup. But he admits it’s all in good fun and that his family has been extremely supportive of his magic. Northrup’s brother, Connor Duso-Jarnis, 18, who controls sound and lighting for some of his shows said, “He’s always had a knack for amazing people. Magic was just a perfect fit for him.”
Longtime friend of Northrup’s parents, Shelby Hypes of Salem agrees. “Knowing how focused he is, I wasn’t surprised when he said he was actually going to do it [magic],” Hypes said. “It has always been a theme running through his life.”
Northrup’s magic is categorized under parlor magic, a small stage show that welcomes audience participation and dialogue. When Northrup isn’t performing on the street, his gigs are primarily private, upscale events. He has entertained large crowds including the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, and numerous conventions. Northrup has also traveled to Las Vegas to train with some of the world’s greatest magicians such as Jeff McBride.
“I don’t do your nephew’s birthday parties,” said Northrup, but still describes his material as family friendly. “It’s very interactive and all based on humor and participation.”
Hypes says Northrup’s magic goes a step further than sophistication. “His magic, I think, is intellectual,” she said. “It’s provocative. It’s not tricks for the sake of doing tricks.”
Salem Theatre Company (STC) board member, Norene Gascignard, 53, of Nahant, has known Northrup for over a decade. Her daughter went to school with him and suggested bringing him to the STC. “He’s a charming young man and he just brings that to bear on stage,” said Gascignard.
For Northrup, October means taking a “month off” from more private corporate performances to perform in his hometown. “It’s a good time to ground myself from the suit and tie world,” he said. And locals and visitors alike can look forward to Northrup’s return to Salem every October.
“I will always be doing magic,” said Northrup. “It’s engrained in who I am.”
For more information on Northrup’s “Tricks and Treats” performances this month, visit www.salemtheatre.com <http://www.salemtheatre.com> . All tickets are $10.