Hypnotist Michael C. Anthony shares the stage with 30 or so people who don’t mind a bit of suggestive fun.
They might fall asleep. Or forget their names. Or break into dance. Or, they might even be convinced that a belt is a wriggling snake.
They might even find true love, of a most unusual kind.
“I made a guy fall in love with a broom,” said Anthony, who will bring his Hypnotized Live! Show to Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on May 20 and May 21.
He invites audience members to leave their seats and become part of his show. But, they have a choice.
They can “SEE the show or BE the show.”
“I don’t pressure anybody to come on the stage,” Anthony said.
There is never a problem of getting people to join in the act.
Anthony, who lives in Land O’ Lakes, starts his performances with a few minutes of stand up comedy so the audience knows “this is going to be fun. At the end of the show, you’ll be glad you did this.”
The full-time hypnotist has been performing for about 20 years displaying his skills in theaters, at corporate events and at colleges. He’s been to every state except Alaska and to several foreign countries, as well.
More than a year ago, Anthony joined The Illusionists as an entertainer with the group’s theatrical touring company. He works with six magicians when he does those shows.
“That’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We do huge theaters.”
Anthony has entertainment roots.
His great uncle, Joe LaMonico, performed as a hypnotist on cruise ships and at resorts in the Catskills Mountains in upstate New York. LaMonico lived in Buffalo most of his life, but Anthony said his uncle lived in Hudson for many years.
Though born in New York, Anthony moved with his mother to Canada when he was about 2. He’s been living in Land O’ Lakes for about 15 years.
“Most of my work is in the United States,” Anthony said. “I can live anywhere but thought ‘Let’s go somewhere warm.”’
As a youngster, Anthony performed magic tricks for friends. But magic soon morphed into a passion for hypnotism.
“I got fascinated with it all on my own,” Anthony said, though he did get encouragement from his uncle.
He is a board-certified hypnotherapist but Anthony said helping people quit smoking wasn’t nearly the fun of being a stage artist.
He began working as a hypnotist full time during his early 20s. Besides staging shows at colleges, universities and corporate events, he’s also played nightclubs and comedy shows.
More often, now he performs in theaters and at colleges around the country including New York University and Cornell University.
Anthony knows some people come to the theater as skeptics about hypnotism. But he said, “They leave as believers because I entertain the pants off them.”
Hypnotism has taught Anthony a few things about body language after years of observing his audience members who, in a hypnotic trance, can fall asleep and go limp with the snap of his finger.
Nearly two years ago he wrote “Body Language Secrets: How to Read minds by Reading bodies.”
He recently appeared on WFLA television station’s “Daytime” show to discuss body language of presidential candidates including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Both have been guilty of jabbing their index finger into the air to emphasize a point, Anthony said.
“People don’t want that,” he said. “They feel they are being scolded.”
But Trump and Clinton appear to have followed advice from media experts. Now, Anthony said they do what he described as “modified” finger pointing, with the hand held up while the index finger touches the thumb.
At the Straz Center, Anthony will concentrate his thoughts, not on body language and politics, but on entertaining the crowd.
“I’m the director of a play with a cast of 30, who have never seen the script,” he said.
The audience can expect the unexpected, and at times, Anthony is just as surprised.
He watched one night as a young woman, in a trance, suddenly walked around a row of chairs heading toward the man amorously hugging the broom he loved so much.
“She got to the broom and just slapped it across the face,” Anthony said.
Turned out, she was the man’s girlfriend.
WHAT: Hypnotized Live!
WHERE: Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, in downtown Tampa
WHEN: May 20 and May 21 at 7:30 p.m.
COST: Tickets are $39.99 and $49.99
INFORMATION: Contact the ticket office at (813) 229-7827 or 1-800-955-1045
Published May 11, 2016