Archive for April, 2006

SALEM, OR

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

We were up early Saturday morning to leave Kelso, WA and finish the trip to Salem, OR. We are scheduled for a performance at the Historic Elsinore Theatre on Saturday night.

We arrived in Salem easily and the directions to the venue were great. We pulled right up to the loading doors to a crew that was ready and able to get us in. Greg Rieder is the technical director here and he had everyone prepared for us…which made our day so much easier AND enjoyable! Everyone – Jay, Wayne, Becky, Michael and Greg – were incredibly professional and helpful. We were up and teched for the show by 5pm; doors would open at 7pm. That gave us enough time to finish up the smaller things and grab some food.

The Elsinore Theatre is unlike any other restored venue in which we have ever been. The design and style is very cathedral-like – stained glass, large murals, double staircases, embellished workshop and a magnificent proscenium that I can’t even begin to describe. With almost 1300 seats, it is very intimate and grand at the same time.

The show went very smoothly and we had some good volunteers (and some that were a bit more enthusiastic than we’re used to). The comments from audience members after the show were all very positive. The age was very mixed and there were lots of students from the local college, Willamette University. We love these kinds of audiences! I also had the pleasure of meeting several of the area magicians from Salem and Portland.

After loading out, we said our goodbyes to everyone and took off for the hotel (with a pit stop at the local Dennys). On Sunday morning, we’ll head back to Portland where Cindy and Kylie will fly home while David and I make the 3100 mile drive to Virginia.

This was the last show on our “western” U.S. tour….a nice one to go out on. Thanks Salem, Steve Martin, Greg Rieder and everyone at the Historic Elsinore Theatre!

BREMERTON, WA

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

We arrived in Bremerton the night before our show and caused just a bit of a stir in our big truck. Parking is a premier in this community. There’s a lot of new construction, narrow downtown streets and lots of hills! Our hotel was right on the water with a beautiful view and next to the Seattle Ferry (a very busy ferry). We originally parked the truck on the street in front of the hotel but that became a problem for the buses transporting the arriving ferry passengers. We eventually had to move if for a few hours to get through peak arrival times but then we were able to bring it back around 8pm and leave it for the night.

We had an earlier than normal load in at the Admiral Theatre. The first illusion of the day was getting 65 feet of truck and trailer down a narrow alley to the loading dock. I had to back up the alley for almost three blocks. Once we made it, the crew was there and ready to get us in. Mark and Gayle Thomason were our technical contacts for this show – they were excellent. Load in happens from a street level dock to a freight elevator and then up to the stage level. Once we started bringing it in, it was smooth and uneventful.

The Admiral Theatre is a wonderfully restored, truly unique theatre. The main floor can be arranged for dinner theatre as well, so that’s the way they sold our show. Dinner would begin at 5:30pm for those patrons. For all others, doors would open at 7pm. We had a full house and a really mixed audience of all ages.

We kicked into the show right on time and the audience was with us from the very first illusion. The audible responses, wonderful volunteers and enthusiastic applause were almost overwhelming. And a standing ovation topped off the evening. What a great crowd!

A big thank you to the entire crew – Anja, Mark, Gayle, Trevor, Jerry, Troy, and John…and Brian Johnson. They had us out of the theatre and into the trailer very quickly. That was especially important last night because we had to drive a few hours to get closer to Salem, OR. That’s where our show is tonight – the Historic Elsinore Theatre.

SNOQUALMIE TO SEATTLE

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

The morning started off with a live radio interview on KBZY in Salem, OR for our show there on Saturday night. Ticket have been selling really well and this was a chance to do that last bit of marketing before the big event. Terry Sol, the DJ at the station, was GREAT! He was so full of excitement about the show and you could hear it in his voice. The interview lasted about 20 minutes but seemed like it was about 5 minutes! Terry had watched the ASIA DVD so he had some idea of what the show is like – that meant great conversation and a good interview! Now I’m really pumped about the show!

Big changes today in the terraine and the weather. We left out of Kennewick after the interview and the temperatures had already started dropping as the winds were picking up. By the time we got to Ellensburg, the wind was really gusting. We left I-82 for I-90, heading toward the Snoqualmie Pass. We came through rolling hills (BIG hills) with steep grades and winding turns. It was very beautiful – very different from any landscapes we have seen so far. As we started upward toward the Pass, we were once again speechless at the amazing mountains, lakes, streams, trees and more. Our videocamera was rolling but there’s no way to capture on tape the spectacular, overwhelming beauty of what we were seeing. If you had been sitting with us, all you would have heard were gasped and aahhs of amazement! Truly some of the most beautiful scenery we have every witnessed – America, the Beautiful!

We are staying the night in the Tacoma area, not far from our final destination of Bremerton. Our hotel is right across from a quaint little Asian marketplace, which we decided to visit. We bought lots of our favorite snacks – pocky sticks, milk tea, and strawberry moonpies – and some new things to try as well. Then we headed over to the Shin Sung Korean Cuisine for dinner! The featured menu item for the night? Black Goat Intestines – barbequed at your table! Who could pass that up? We opted for the sweet bbq beef and chicken in house sauce – both were delicious!

RESPECT THE HILL!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

We were up early this morning and driving from Boise, ID toward the Evergreen State of Washington. Before I get into the details of THIS trip, I’d like to share an email we just received from Melanie Stevenson in Logan who attended the show at the Ellen Ecles Theatre. I love it when people take the time to write to us (you can read her entire comments on her blog at http://melarky.com/?p=44).

Stage smoke rolling and lights flashing, the Theatre of Illusion show started. Magicians Kevin and Cindy Spencer lit up the stage with their personalities and their obvious love for what they do. We enjoyed Kevin’s jokes, and Cindy’s smile and charm…The show was upbeat, with plenty of illusions to keep you guessing.

Overall we had a great time and we were totally entertained. We had visited their website before we went to the show, and they lived up to everything in it. We were really glad that a show of this caliber came to our little town of Logan, Utah, and we hope that more shows like this are to come. We recommend that if The Spencers Theatre of Illusion comes to your town, go!

Thanks Melanie for coming to the show AND sharing your thoughts with us and others!

NOW, let’s talk about today’s journey. I stopped at the Weigh Station at the Oregon border to buy my “trip permit” through Oregon. I was talking to the person assisting me and asked about “Cabbage Hill,” the descent from the High Desert to the Valley. She directed to me a small brochure for “truckers” called RESPECT THE HILL – TRUCKER WARNING!

As I opened the brochure, these are the words that first caught my attention:

“EXTREME CAUTION URGED – Cabbage Hill is on of the most hazardous stretches of road along westbound Interstate 84. This seven-mile downgrade has some of the most changeable and severe weather conditions in the Northwest. You’ll lose about 2,000 feet of elevation in six miles and twist through a double hairpin turn at a 6% downgrade.”

Now, doesn’t that sound like fun! After our Death Valley experience, I was not looking forward to Cabbage Hill.

The brochure continues, “This stretch of highway accounts for almost 20 percent of truck-related fatalities on I-84 in Oregon. And more than 80 percent of the drivers involved in Cabbage Hill accidents are out-of-state carriers! Escape ramps are located at Milepost 221 and Milepost 220.”

Before making the descent, I stopped at a Truck Repair shop just to have them do a brake inspection on my rig. I wanted to make sure I had total control of this 40,000 pounds BEFORE we started down Cabbage Hill. And then we prayed!

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined it might be. It was a very steep grade and, in bad weather, I can see where this would be absolutely treacherous. Today, it was nice and slow down the mountain – not exceeding 35 mph. Once we hit the bottom of the grade, we could smell the brakes but never lost control or friction.

We are spending the night in Kennewick, Washington. It’s a very beautiful area and the weather is excellent! In the morning, we head on to Seattle….through the Snoqualmie Pass. I can’t wait!!

BOISE, ID

Monday, April 24th, 2006

We made the short trip to Boise, ID yesterday afternoon and then spent some time at the local mall. We have a couple of days to get to Bremerton, WA so we’re going to take our time. We’ve also been going through all those pictures we took in Cedar City and Logan. Some of them turned out really good!

Today is cold and rainy in Boise. Yesterday was so nice – big switch in the weather! We’re going to stay here one more day and then head on up to Washington. I have no idea what the terrain is like from here to there and I want to make sure we have plenty of time to make the journey! I just hope we don’t come up on any more of those major mountains, inclines, etc.

This has been a really great tour for us this year but, I think, all of us are now ready for a break – a chance to go home and get refreshed and relaxed. Kylie’s parents are flying in from Australia to spend some time in America and visit their daughter and David. I hope they have a great time while they are here. They will actually get to see our last show in North Carolina before heading out to Washington, DC and New York. I’m sure Kylie is excited about them arriving – it’s only a couple of weeks away.

After our last performances this weekend, Cindy and Kylie will fly back to Virginia while David and I make the 50 hour drive home. Sounds like fun!

SUNSHINE TERRACE FOUNDATION

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

One of the most rewarding things we get to do on the road is the Healing of Magic program. I’ve written about it here a couple of times. This is a program that uses simply magic tricks as a form of rehabilitation therapy. It allows us to teach certain patients these tricks to help them reach their therapeutic goals in a fun way. Each of the moves required to perform a certain trick can be designed to build fine and gross motor skills, cognitive and perceptual skills and social interaction. Patients practice the moves over and over again, all the while doing the same things they would do in more traditional forms of therapy without the realization that’s what it is!

David and I worked with some very special people at the Sunshine Terrace Foundation in Logan, UT. I wanted to share a picture of one of the great people who learned magic and really improved the extension of their fingers in just 45 minutes! Wide-eyed therapists watched the results appear like “magic.”

ELLEN ECLES THEATRE – PART TWO

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

We woke this morning to a beautiful day but Cindy was in much more pain than yesterday. The muscles in her neck and back were in deep spasms and it was difficult of her to even move. We found a great muscle therapist in Logan who worked her into her schedule. She also worked miracles on Cindy! By the time she left, much of the pain was gone and she had some of her range of motion back.

David and I had the privilege of working with some very special people with the Sunshine Terrace Foundation. We spent part of the morning teaching magic tricks to some of the clients in an effort to help motivate them through the rehabilitation. It went really well.

We headed on over to the theatre after lunch where James (the venue electrician & light board operation) and Cory (the venue technical director) met us. We wanted to take advantage of this great stage to get some photographs for next season’s marketing materials. It went really quickly and we got some great pictures.

There was this little Korean BBQ place next to the theatre. Cindy and I decided to head over and get some food for everyone, just to taste Korean. We ordered Spicy BBQ Pork, Korean BBQ Beef and Candied Chicken. Each of these entrees also came with some great side dishes – vegetables, a really amazing fruit and vegetable salad and some really spicy hot sticks that we’re not exactly sure WHAT they were – but they were good! Cory joined us in the Green Room and we all had a great time experiencing a new “taste sensation.”

The show last night was incredible. The audience gave us so much energy and enthusiasm! There were times I couldn’t tell if we were a magic show or a rock concert. The audience spanned all ages – seniors, families, college students, and children. The volunteers were, once again, vibrant and energetic. The comments in the lobby afterwards were all very positive.

Our experience these last few days in Utah have been outstanding. Our shows all across the state have been met with such enthusiasm and excitment. Our experience in Logan at the Ellen Ecles Theatre was great. Everyone made every effort to make us comfortable – a very gracious and professional group of people lead my a very gracious director, Mr. Wally Bloss.

As we leave Logan and head to Boise, ID, we want to say a huge thank you to Wall, Brianne, the entire Box Office Staff, the House Manager and Ushers, Cory, Kris, James, Andy, Trevor, Lee, LuAnn, Tyler, Gregg (Pyro), and Rob for all their hard work!

ELLEN ECLES THEATRE

Friday, April 21st, 2006

We had an excellent day today in Logan, UT! Wally Bloss, the executive director at the Ellen Ecles Theatre, and his staff have been such gracious hosts for us. When we arrived back at the hotel this evening after the first performance, we had an incredible welcome basket waiting for us filled with goodies, treats and souveniers!

The day in the theatre was extremely enjoyable. Cory and the entire crew worked very hard to help us get the show up. We were completely done – set up, focus, and tech rehearsal by 4:30pm! That’s awesome and almost impossible! And the theatre is spectacular – beautifully restored.

The show tonight went off without a hitch. Cindy’s been having some difficulties with muscle spasms in her neck causing her a great deal of pain and restricted range of motion. We had to make a couple of modifications in the show but she pulled if off like a trooper. I don’t think anyone in the audience was aware that she was in any discomfort at all. She never ceases to amaze me.

The audience was very enthusiastic – great responses to each of the illusions and effects. Our volunteers tonight had tons of personality and really made the show so much fun for me and the crowd watching. We have another performance on Friday night – should be great fun!

In the morning, David and I will be heading over to one of the local hospital to work with the therapists and some patients with the Healing of Magic program. This is always something that I love to do. It can have such an impact on people and the community. Being able to work with the therapists almost guarantees that the concepts of the program will stay long after we’re gone.

Off to bed….early to rise!

MOVING ON…

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

We’ve enjoyed the last couple of days in Salt Lake City. The view from our hotel is really spectacular. The weather took a sharp turn on us though. When we arrived on Sunday night, it was in the 60′s. Monday brought colder weather and SNOW! It snowed again on Tuesday – almost 2 feet in the mountains. By Tuesday night, it had warmed up and most of the snow had melted.

I was able to get a great deal of work done these last few days. When you’re going all the time – driving and performing – there’s not a lot of time to make calls and complete paperwork. This was a good time to try and get caught up.

And speaking of paperwork, it seems that events of Iowa (read February 8, Waterloo) continue to haunt me. Now that I’ve completed everything for which I was cited by Officer Rheinhardt, I received a letter from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration representative in Ames saying that, perhaps, I didn’t need a Class A CDL afterall. BUT the citation has now triggered a full “compliance investigation” by the FMCSA in Virginia. I got a call yesterday from Special Agent R.C. Rogers telling me that I need to bring my truck to Richmond, along with my “qualification papers” for a four hour review! It’s set for May 16. When I asked him WHAT items are included in this “qualification” folder, he only said, “If you don’t know, then you’re not in compliance.” He couldn’t even tell me specifically what I need to bring. He referred me to the FMCSA website where I should check out “How To Comply.” When I got back to the hotel, I did that. Here’s what it says, ” NOTE: This guide is currently under revision. Since some information may not be completely up to date, please consult the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), which are updated quarterly online.” So, I checked out the FMCSR to see how to comply. Like most government documents, this one was pages and pages long and impossible to understand. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I guess I’ll have to do the best I can and see what happens. This entire experience dealing with the Feds has been a nightmare…thanks to an officer in Iowa with too much time on his hands.

Today, we head up to Logan, UT. We have performances there on Thursday and Friday.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Monday, April 17th, 2006

We have a couple of days off and have decided to park in Salt Lake City. We’re at a good exit with tons of stuff to do. I’ll be spending a lot of my time trying to finish up the booking for next season! I still have tons of phone calls to make, emails to write, and contracts to send to people. This is the hardest thing about being on the road and being self-represented. Many people have asked me why we don’t have an agent. I’ve had a couple of agents over the life of our career and they’ve done a fairly good job for us. But, for the most part, I’m still contacting people and making the connections that pull a tour together. No one gives us the kind of attention that I would like to have except me. It’s a lot of hard work but it pays off in the end.

Yesterday was Easter, beautiful drive from Cedar City to Salt Lake City. The mountains around us are incredible and the weather was perfect. I called my Mom and Dad and talked with them as we made the drive. I have the greatest parents in the whole world. I am so blessed to have a Mother and Father who love me and care about what’s happening in my life. I love talking with them and hearing about what they are up to as well. We talked until the battery on my cell phone finally gave out!

Today, there’s been a big change in the weather. It’s cloudy and overcast. As I write this, the clouds are rolling in over the mountains and there is a mixture of rain and snow falling outside. The mountains are supposed to get almost 2 feet! While the valley should only get a dusting.