CSUN theater student, magician dies at 22

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CSUN student Richard “Magic Rich” Serrano died Feb. 20 at his home in Panorama City.

Serrano, 22, was found dead as a result of suicide.

“I can honestly say that he lived his life to the fullest, not like many of us that lets the days pass, taking them for granted,” Serrano’s younger sister Lilyana Serrano said.

The funeral service took place at St. Genevieve High School Feb. 26, where CSUN students, faculty and St. Genevieve High School students were in attendance. Lilyana Serrano, along with close friend and mentor Joseph Tran, also a CSUN graduate, delivered eulogies.

“Richard was the most pure-hearted person,” Tran said. “I’ve also realized that those with such a pure heart grow weary of traveling alone.”

The theater department students and faculty at CSUN learned of Serrano’s death Feb. 22. In memory of Richard Serrano, a performance of “Three Sisters” was dedicated to him.

His most recent accomplishment was his participation in “Instigated,” a collection of one-act plays performed at the Avery Schreiber Theater in North Hollywood. In his first lead role, Serrano played the homeless man in “Abraham’s Embrace.”

“At first, Richard struggled a lot but he worked really hard,” said John Mardoyan, who worked extensively with Serrano. “He was really dedicated towards the end. Everyone who saw the show was really impressed. They never knew he was capable of a performance like that.”

Mardoyan played opposite Serrano in the one-act play, which was written by Steven Denison and directed by Markus Garvey, a fellow CSUN student.

“During the rehearsal, you could see how happy Richie was to be acting, working, and to be a part of a group of six guys,” Garvey said. “Everybody treated him well and cared about him. We thought of him as a long-term and life long friend.”

Serrano was a dedicated theater student whose passion could be felt by anyone who was given the opportunity to work with him.

“He was a student in both my camera class and improv class,” said Lillian Lehman, an associate professor in the theater department. “He was very generous as an actor and a very giving student. If we could have students (who) have as much desire as he showed in everything he did, it would be a whole different time,” she said.

Serrano had a variety of interests. Last semester, the Sundial published a profile in which he discussed his deeply founded interest and involvement in the magic arts.

By age 21, Serrano was a magician member of the Magic Castle Hollywood, the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. Serrano referred to himself as a close-up magician specializing in cards, metalism and comedy magic.

“Richard got all of us to reflect on his life and our own lives, and that was his best magic trick of all,” Tran said.

Students may remember Serrano showing his magic tricks to people.

“Sometimes Richard would be in the green room, and if he was there he would be showing off his latest magic trick that he had just learned and been working on,” theater major Gerron Beadle said. “Richard the Magician, as we called him, will always be remembered in our hearts, souls and minds forever. Richard would always say, ‘I’m going to put you on my good list.’ Well, Richard, you’re already on my good list.”

Close friends are stunned by Serrano’s death but will always cherish good memories of him. Josh Stern, a theater student who knew Serrano well, recalled a memory about himself and Serrano.

“I remember talking with Richard a while back about his love of the Renaissance Fair,” Stern said. “He told me he felt like sometimes he belonged in that period of time. I felt like he was both ahead of this time and before his time. He lived a life of honor and chivalry, which is rare in today’s world of apathy.”

Serrano was born on April 19, 1984 in Mission Hills to Raul and Nohemy Serrano. He had a brother, Raul, and two sisters, Liza and Lilyana. Richard lived with family in Panorama City.

Serrano graduated from St. Genevieve High School in 2002, and went on to attend CSUN. In high school, Richard developed his love for theater with involvement in three major plays: “The Wiz,” “All My Sons” and “Rumors.”

Serrano was a member of the St. Genevieve High School football team all four years. He only had two more semesters to be eligible to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in theater.

Serrano’s sister, Lilyana, has set up a MySpace page in his memory at www.myspace.com/rip_richardserrano2_20_07. On the page, friends, acquaintances and family members have left comments recalling personal memories of Serrano and expressing condolences to the Serrano family.

Serrano’s interests also included music and art. His favorite game was Dungeons and Dragons. Serrano also had a variety of favorite movies, which included “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Nightmare before Christmas” and “Dracula.” He was also involved in the Anime Club at CSUN due to his love for Japanese animation.

“Richard to me was ahead of his time,” Lilyana said. “Richard would always tell me how he didn’t like narrow-minded people. Many people misjudged Richard as being weird and never understood his way of thinking; all he did was look outside the box.”


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