Archive for November, 2005

“HEALING OF MAGIC” PROGRAM

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

Throughout the year while we are one tour, I have the opportunity to present a very cool program to therapists in hospitals and rehab centers or to students studying occupational therapy in college. David generally goes with me to help me when I do these things. It takes both of us most of the time, especially when it comes to teaching the tricks!

We had the chance to present a workshop at Quinnipiac University just a couple of weeks ago. Today, I received an email from Sue Gallagher, one of the professors teaching in the program. I don’t think she’ll mind if I share part of her email with you.

“This was definitely the most well-received program we’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been here. It was great for me to see the students so inspired and to watch them persevere with the tricks! I think I will incorporate the Healing of Magic into our intervention course next semester. We’ve also been tossing around the idea of taking the tricks to Barbados when we go there on spring break to do a Disabilities Awareness program. So, you’ve really infiltrated our curriculum with magic!”

And only a couple of days ago I received a phone call in the office inviting me to come to Korea to present the program at the Korean Education Expo in Seoul. Unfortunately, that expo begins in less that two weeks making it close to impossible! We’re still talking but it’s a very tight window of opportunity.

I’d like to share one more letter I received months ago from a man in Kenya, East Africa (that’s his picture above). Through a series of seemingly impossible events, this guy found our name and address.

“I do teach here in a village school for the deaf and blind. I am a part-time magician but here in Kenya and other east-African nations there are no magicians clubs. In fact, in 16 nations of southern Africa, there are only 10 magicians. I am also the village orthopedist and the head of the village farm. I do kindly inquire more about your Healing of Magic.”

We sent him a copy of the magic therapy book and video and then received a thank you letter with his picture.

I mention all of this because the Healing of Magic program is something that is very important to us. We will be conducting a few workshops this spring as a part of our spring tour (and I promise I’m working on getting that tour schedule online). I am always humbled by the fact that something I do purely as an entertainment artform can have such a significant impact on the quality of someone’s life when used in a therapeutic way.

HOME SWEET HOME

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

We are home. I spent most of the day trying to get organized with all the projects we have to get done over this break. I can already tell, it’s going to go really fast! Letters, phone calls, editing, developing, rehearsing – it doesn’t seem to end. But it is good to be home!

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ

Sunday, November 13th, 2005

This was our last show of the fall season. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that our work is over for the fall. We still have tons of office stuff to do and the beginning of another DVD project – US TOUR 2005…which should be very interesting!

The show here in Hightstown, NJ went very well. It was an early morning load in (up at 5:45am). But the crew and TD were there to greet us and ready to go. The first challenge was getting the truck into the loading dock. Everyone doubted me but the truck went in with little difficulties. The 7 foot high loading dock was a new one for us! But this is everyday business for the guys here so they put up the ramps and the equipment was on it’s way up into the theatre.

Everything went up quickly…and it needed to because the show was a 2pm show, doors open at 1:30pm. The show has been sold out for a few weeks and the place was packed with a really fun audience. This was a great show for us to end our season of performances.

A big thanks to Robert, John, Lynn, Alex, Morgan, and Aaron for all their help.

Tomorrow we head home. And then the work begins….thanks everyone for a great fall season! Don’t forget to buy your ASIA DVD as a Christmas gift for someone who loves magic! Check it out on our SHOP page.

MOM’S DINER

Saturday, November 12th, 2005

Life on the road is never boring; often challenging, but never boring! After a day of driving from Massachusettes to New Jersey (with a few stops along the way), we finally arrived at our hotel. We were starving and across the street was an enticing little place called MOM’S DINER. Who can pass up a diner??

We all jumped out of the truck and took off that direction. But first, we wanted to make sure that no one would park around our rig in the hotel parking lot and trap us. We have an early morning load in (7:30am) at the Mount Burke Theatre and didn’t want to run the risk of not getting out of the parking lot. There were these big orange construction barrels stacked by one of the light posts in the lot so we put them around our truck and took off for the diner.

What an experience! This is one of the greatest things about being on the road! We all ordered some authentic Greek food from the menu (the owner, George, and our server, Steve were both Greek). The meal was amazing and then came baklava for dessert. For those of you who know me – way too many carbs! But delicious!!

After some casual conversation with our server, Steve, everyone became aware that we were the illusion show at the theatre on Sunday. At the request of the owner, George, David went back to the truck to get an 8 X 10 glossy to add to the collection of autographed photos they had behind the counter. When David made it back to the restaurant, he was a bit upset. Turns out those nice convenient orange construction barrels belonged to a construction crew staying at the hotel…and they weren’t all that happy that we were temporarily using them. David noticed that the crew guys were standing around our trailer and then George looked over there to see them STILL around the trailer. David and I took over across the 4 lane road and field to make sure they were letting air out of our tires or anything. Once we got there, I apologized to the guys for using the barrels and explained that we just didn’t want to get blocked in and didn’t realize that they belonged to someone other than the hotel. After a brief explanation and apology, the guys were very cool about the whole thing and said they’d take care of it with their boss. We jumped into the trailer, got our own orange cones and marked off the places….then ran back to the diner to finish up the baklava!

Steve sat down with us and talked while we ate. He shared a part of his life with us telling us how he came to America from Greece as a 10 year old boy. It was a really enjoyable evening. Meeting people across America, hearing their stories and seeing the great diversity of the country never gets old or boring.

I’m not a close up magician and never have been. But I decided to do a small – very small – coin trick for the guys. George ran into the kitchen and called out the rest of the help to watch me do the trick. The most fun came when Steve told us all a joke, acting it out as he told the story.

Good food. Great conversation. Nice people. Welcome to America.

SPRINGFIELD, MA

Friday, November 11th, 2005

We performed at Veritas Auditorium on the campus of Elms College two years ago and had a great crowd. Our notes say it was the largest audience they had ever had and we received a standing ovation from the audience. But we also had notes that this was a difficult set up day – the stage is on the second floor of a building with only a small elevator. The technical capabilities are limited – stage lighting and electrical supply were almost non-existent. When they booked the show this year, they said they had done some improvements and renovations to the theatre.

Today, the load in wasn’t any different. Because of the long process of moving cases from the truck, down the hall, into the elevator, down the hall, to the stage and then up the ramp to the stage, load in is an arduous process. While we did an abbreviated version of the full production, it still took almost 90 minutes to load in the equipment before we could begin setting up.

Jose Tolson and the gang had the backstage area ready for us so that made it much easier. Once we were in, we all set out to do our job and get the show up. Lighting was a bit complicated here – numerous instruments but controlled by two different light boards! We set them both up back stage and I wrote the cues so Kylie could operate both lights board and the universal controller for our intelligent lighting (though we could only get some of them in the air).

This show took everyone doing multiple jobs to pull it all off. David was working hard on the stage and with the curtain; Kylie was handling three lights boards while Cindy was performing, changing costumes and helping Kylie out with the sound and music. This show was real team work!

The audience was really great! We had a large crowd and some wonderful volunteers. They gave us great energy and the show ended up coming off smoothly.

Now it came time to tear it down and load it all out. Wow, are we tired….off to New Jersey in the morning.

WRAPPING UP SOON

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

We’ll be wrapping up this tour very soon. This has been a relatively short tour for us this fall – busy but compact. We’ll be doing our last two shows this weekend. Tomorrow (Friday) we’ll be at the Veritas Auditorium at Elms College for a 7:30pm show; drive on Saturday; perform our last show on Sunday at the Mount Burke Theatre in Hightstown, NJ at 2pm. That show is already sold out with a waiting list of people who would like to buy tickets. That will be a great show to go out on.

It’s hard to believe this tour is almost over! We’ll be home on Monday and back in the office on Tuesday. This will be the first time in many years that we will be home early for Thanksgiving.

The weather has turned cold here in Massachusettes – in the 30′s. The weekend is suppose to improve back into the high 50′s….just in time for us to go to New Jersey.

Life on the road….never a boring, dull moment!

HEALING OF MAGIC WORKSHOP

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Last night, I had the privilege of conducting a workshop for some of the Occupational Therapy staff and students at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. I always enjoy doing these presentations and watching the expressions on the participant’s faces as they learn the tricks. But I mostly enjoy observing them disect each trick so they can determine the therapeutic values – how can this trick HELP someone reach their therapeutic goals? The enthusiasm in this room filled with future Occupational Therapists was contagious!

It was a really fun time for everyone and two hours flew by before any of us knew it. These students will be graduating very soon and heading out into practice or graduate school. It is always my hope that, through this workshop, we challenge them to think outside of the box and to never place limitations of those patients with whom they will work. People are amazingly resilent throught difficulties. Giving them the freedom to explore their abilities in a fun and exciting way – learning magic tricks – can help motivate them through the recovery process so much more quickly.

Magic wands don’t always belong with black hats and rabbits. Sometimes they belong in hospitals where frail hands learn tricks and the magic – the real magic – is in the healing.

ANOTHER DVD UPDATE

Monday, November 7th, 2005

The ASIA DVD continues to sell well. November is the “official launch” of the DVD when the ads in a couple of the magic industry publications are seen for the first time. We’ve been offering it on the website for a few weeks now and been receiving daily orders. And sales at shows have picked up as well.

Several of you who have bought it have taken the time to share your thoughts. Here’s just a sampling:


“I just finished a fantastic tour of Asia – all from my living room! The Spencers fulfill the dream of every magician who might want to tour the world with a big illusion show. The DVD made me feel like I was there!”

- Walter from Texas


“Wow – it’s great! Highly enjoyable and so much fun to see everything from a behind-the-scenes perspective…”

- Craig from South Africa


“It’s almost like a guilty pleasure…I can’t stop watching it. I liked the behind the curtain stuff the best! Just wanted to let you know what an amazing job you did on this.”

- Steve from Illinois

Thanks to all of you for your support on this project! We have a great Collector’s Package availabe on the site (includes photo, poster and dvd) and we’ve just added a Limited Edition ASIA EXPERIENCE collector’s package (includes the dvd, souvenier program from Hong Kong, marketing flyer from Taiwan and a large color poster used in Hong Kong). There are only 50 of these packages available on a first-come/first-serve basis due to the limited quanity of materials. This package also includes a Certificate of Authenticity – signed and numbered for each of the 50 packages.

SUGAR LOAF, NY

Sunday, November 6th, 2005

What a difference today was – from Brooklyn to Sugar Loaf. One venue in the middle of the city; the other in the middle of scenic countryside. We had such a great time at the Brooklyn Center for the Arts and today was another good day – 2 in a row!

We had another early morning, up around 6am. We had to be at the Lycian Center in Sugar Loaf at 8am. This theatre is very unique. Built in the rural, scenic beauty of New York, it looks a lot like a large barn as you drive up to it. When you enter the stage doors, you are immediately taken by the size and superior technology this unusual theatre enjoys. And the interior is as unique and stunning as the exterior – there’s not a bad seat in the house!

The show went up quickly with minimal challenges. And the show went off very well. This was not your normal “Sunday matinee” audience. They were excited, playful, and anxious to participate in the performance.

Kudos to all the staff and crew here! They handled some interesting situations very well. During the performance, one of their lighting specials stopped working leaving me in the dark on the stage. Richard Logothetis, the executive director of the Lycian Center, was on it quickly and the audience rolled on with us like nothing was wrong. A new lighting instrument was in place and the show kept on going, not missing a beat.

We have Monday off but we’re driving on to New Haven, CT. Our next stop is Quinnipiac University for a Healing of Magic workshop with the occupational therapy students there.

OUR NEW YORK EXPERIENCE

Saturday, November 5th, 2005

Our day started very early this morning. We woke at 5AM; left the hotel around 6:30AM. Our drive to Brooklyn went fairly well – not much traffic – but it still took almost 30 minutes to get there. The venue is literally in the middle of the city on the campus of Brooklyn College. I turned down the street that I thought would take me to the loading dock (there was a sign with an arrow pointing that way) but we found ourselves on a very narrow street lined with semi-trucks and trailers. As it turns out, we drove through the middle of a movie shoot with Sarah Jessica Parker. David and Cindy jumped out to get directions for me. I flipped the truck around the block, came in a different entrance and there it was – the loading dock!

Once we were at the dock, we headed into the theatre. The staff and crew were ready for us! Wide eyes and smiles at 7:15am! A huge thanks to Seth, Sarah and Jen for their hospitality and to the crew (David, Steve, Bob, Peter, Liz, Luke, and Chet) for doing such an amazing job. The show went up in record time and we even had some time to grab a quick bite for lunch before doors opened.

Great reactions from the audience – but the Windshear really evoked a huge response, as did the Origami. This was a shorter version of our normal show so it was a very different mix of illusions for us. Cindy pulled off a miracle by doing two illusions back-to-back with a costume change in between! Who says a woman can’t change clothes quickly!?!

Meeting the audience in the lobby afterwards is always something that I look forward to. I love listening to what people say about their favorite illusions. And we are always thrilled when local magicians come to support our show. We had several of them there today including Mr. and Mrs. George Schindler (the Dean of the Society of American Magicians). It was an honor to meet with him after the show.

After we packed it up, we took off for Middletown, NY. While it’s only 70 miles from NYC, it took us almost three hours to make the journey. We’re finally in a hotel, ready for some sleep. Tomorrow is another matinee – early morning load in and 3pm show.

THANKS BROOKLYN FOR A GREAT TIME!