BY KAT BOATNER
Benjamin Packett, a University of Mary Washington freshman, perks up as he hears hypnotist Michael Anthony say the words “full moon.” Jumping out of his seat, Packett begins to howl loudly at Anthony and the 29 students sitting next to him.
Packett was one of 30 student volunteers taking part in Anthony’s comedic hypnosis show on Thursday, Sept. 6, in Dodd Auditorium, put on by Giant Productions.
Anthony began the show by introducing himself and warning the audience that in order to be truly hypnotized, they had to believe they could be.
“I find that this process does not work on those who don’t believe it can. Open-minded people get the best results,” said Anthony.
After he explained that he needed 15 people to fill the chairs lined up behind him and 15 more to stand behind the chairs, a minor stampede ensued. As eager students shoved past one another to be a part of the show, Anthony sent several people back to their seats as he only had space for 30 volunteers.
“It would have been cool to be a part of the show, but it was pretty fun to watch other people make fools of themselves,” said Stephanie Sims, a senior at UMW.
Once the volunteers were assembled, Anthony put them into a trance by having them stare at the palm of his raised hand as he talked to them. Audience members watched in amazement as those onstage fell asleep almost instantly. Many even fell out of their chairs or rested their heads on those seated next to them.
Anna Sullivan, a senior who has been hypnotized prior to volunteering for this show, felt that Anthony was legit.
“He was very professional…I did feel truly hypnotized,” said Sullivan. “On a scale of one to ten, I was very hypnotized; about a seven.”
The rest of the show was as entertaining as the beginning. Students believed Anthony was their hated fifth-grade teacher and that one of the volunteer’s belts was actually a snake.
Andy Ransom, the owner of the belt, was hypnotized to believe that a broomstick was actually the beautiful girl of his dreams. Ransom, a freshman, danced obliviously with the short, green broomstick as the audience laughed in appreciation.
Emily Brett, a sophomore, acted as a human seat belt whenever she heard the word “safety.” She consistently threw herself across her three neighbors whenever Anthony uttered the word.
“I didn’t think it was stupid,” said Brett. “I felt like it was my duty; that if I didn’t protect them, they really would get hurt.”
Anthony concluded the show by hypnotizing the volunteers to forget everything that had happened to them during the previous 90 minutes. When they woke up from their trance, they would believe that the show hadn’t even started yet. The confused volunteers exited the stage, as Anthony said he would not need volunteers after all. It wasn’t until the participants stepped off the stage that they would be able to recall everything that had happened.
One by one, as their feet touched the carpet below the stage, each volunteer’s eyes would widen as they remembered insisting to be called Cha-Cha or attempting to win $100,000 in an MTV dance contest. The audience never failed to get a kick out of every sudden realization.
Ransom was last to exit the stage. Once off the platform, he turned around and grinned sheepishly. Anthony, still onstage, was holding a small, green broomstick.
“Did you forget about this?” he asked Ransom.
Ransom didn’t forget about the broom, and it’s unlikely that he will forget about Anthony or his show anytime soon.