Magic and mystery with The MAZE

Jim Munroe, a magician and survivor of leukemia, performed in Coffman’s Great Hall on Wednesday night.

Haley Bennett

Munroe welcomed more than a hundred students to the Hall to stun them with the tricks he had up his sleeve.

When asked where he got his tricks, Munroe left his secrets veiled. “I just grew up loving magic,” he said.

With a mixture of comedy and mystery, Munroe seeks to show his audiences that what they believe to be real may not be factual.

“When somebody’s watching a piece of theater, they know that what their five natural senses are telling them to be true is different than what’s going on behind the scenes,” said Munroe.

He began his show by matching his tricks with a theme: things that people use to pursue happiness. 

The show is quite secretive — Munroe insists that no video or photo be recorded while he performs his magic, and that people give away little after the fact.

Backgrounded by a projection of the word “MAZE” in gold that resembled a Windows 2008 screensaver, Munroe strolled onto the stage and welcomed his audience.

Each of his tricks brought audience members up to the stage for pranks and bewilderment. 

He threw numbered ping-pong balls out into the audience and used those to pick his stage assistants, so viewers could be certain that his show was completely randomized.

He successfully predicted a set of lottery numbers, and performed bodily horrors such as hammering a nail up his right nostril and pulling a string out of his abdomen, with the aid of his stage assistants and to the gasps and groans of onlookers.

In his own biography, Munroe describes magic as the “perfect palette on which to express belief and doubt,” simultaneously. 

This idea tied in to the second half of the show.

At the intermission point, Munroe notified the audience that he would incorporate his own personal beliefs into the rest of the show, and gave audience members a chance to leave if they were uninterested in a spiritual discussion.

Over a decade ago, Munroe was diagnosed with leukemia. The only match for him in the entire world was a 19-year-old girl.

He described his lifesaving transplant as a rebirth, and it was this experience that drove him to become a member of the Christian faith. 

Munroe uses The MAZE to recruit donors for Be The Match, the National Bone Marrow Registry’s way of finding donors for leukemia survivors. 

“I think that our show [creates unity] very very well. We’re saving people’s lives. What’s more important than that?” said Munroe. “One thing I know we will all agree upon is the necessity of people to help other people.”