Archive for February, 2008

BUSY DAYS!

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

This week has been incredibly busy in the office. I’ve had an interview every day so far for upcoming shows (thank you Nolan) and have been working on our 2008/2009 tour schedule. Things are coming together very well and I’m excited about what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be going next year. It should be great fun! And I do hope to have that schedule online sometime in early March.
We are also interviewing people for two positions on our team. This is always a challenging and time-consuming venture but we are getting some great resumes. Finding just the right person to spend that much time with on the road is extremely important – for all of us!

The remainder of this week will be spent working on a couple of major projects that have to be done very soon. And then we have to work on a one or two illusions before packing the trailer and getting ready to leave on Tuesday.

ENDURANCE OR PERSEVERANCE?

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I’ve had the chance to reflect over these last few days about the tour so far, what’s ahead of us, and what’s going to happen next season in 20082/2009. At times, it’s all just a bit overwhelming. We’ve finished up a run of 19 sold out performances so far – from New Jersey to Florida and places in between. We’ve worked hard over the years to put together a production that we’re proud of; and we’ve worked even harder to get our name and reputation out there for people to notice. It hasn’t been an easy process. It’s taken a lot of commitment and sacrifice in so many ways. And it certainly requires more than our efforts – it takes the efforts of an entire team dedicated to quality. You gradually build momentum and then, it seems, that one day everything starts to change…and you reach a different level of success. And it all becomes very humbling.

Cindy has always said that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint. If we want to be successful, it’s slow and steady. Consistency builds a reputation. That’s our philosophy but it doesn’t have to be everyone’s.

I believe that Perseverance is more than just Endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling…or failing. Those of you who read my blog know that, from time to time, I talk about my faith. It’s an important part of who I am. As a Christ-follower, I believe that each of us has a purpose in life. And I believe the Creator gifts each of us with potential and abilities to achieve amazing things. I also believe that God’s definition of “success” is very different from what our society believes to be “success.”

My job is about more than just entertaining people. It’s about bringing worship to the God who has given me the ability to entertain people. We are going to worship – no matter what. That’s the simple truth of our existence. We will value something so much that it will be the driving force in our lives. Something is going to grab our attention. Someone is going to captivate our affections. One thing is going to rise to the surface and direct our values, drive our lives, motivate our actions, and determine our destiny.

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to do what I have the privilege of doing almost every day – to stand before an audience and share my passion for the art of magic. It is an amazing and wonderful thing – a humbling experience.

HOME AGAIN

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

I know I haven’t written for a few days but we are home again. It’s always a little crazy for those first few days when we get back. There are so many things to catch up on – from picking up and sorting through the mail to just the mundane, everyday things that most of us take for granted. They all have a tendency to stack up when you’re gone.

We came back from our Florida tour to much colder weather. As a matter of fact, today we have some winter weather warnings for our area (which basically means the possibility of ICE). Cindy took some really beautiful pictures of the sunset while we were in Key West. You can check those out HERE but this is just one example.

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I am in the process of finalizing our 2008/2009 tour season. I should be able to post most of next season’s tour dates very soon. And this month, Torbin will be heading to Australia to start the process of building our tour “Down Under” in 2009.

PARKER PLAYHOUSE – THE PERFORMANCE

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

We made it up to Jacksonville tonight. We’re all exhausted so we made this one an easy day. Tomorrow we’ll make better travel distance. Cindy and Keith are in the SUV (with Carter) while Nolan and I are in the truck. I can’t wait to get back into our rig next week! In the meantime, Carter is making himself comfortable along the way.

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Now, the show last night! We pulled the truck around to the loading dock after passing the front of this beautiful place! Just pulling into a venue like this builds my excitement about the evening show!
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Once at the loading dock, we walked around the building to find the Stage Door and entrance. It was clearly marked – something that makes it much easier for us to get in!

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Working with Tate and his crew (Kerry, Fela, Jimmy, and Anthony) was a great experience. We arrived and they were prepared for us. Batons were marked in the fly rail, legs were in the right places, lighting was hung and patched – all the technical things that make our day much easier were taken care of. So, we had an uneventful day. We enjoyed very much working with all of these guys and will look forward to doing it again in the future!

The doors to the lobby opened at 7pm and there were hundreds of people already there. Once the theatre doors opened at 7:30pm, everyone was great about coming in and finding their seats. With 30 ushers moving people along, it was still a challenge to get everyone seated before the 8pm showtime. We were asked by the House Manager to hold until he could get everyone in – about 10 minutes later, we started the show.

The audience was incredibly excited and enthusiastic! From the moment we took the stage, they were clapping and giving us great energy. We moved from illusion to illusion to cheers and applause. Volunteers from the audience were playful (thank you Chase) and brought some wonderful spontaneity to the magic. The Walking Through A Wall contines to draw gasps and mumbles of astonishment from the crowd – and the Windshear is a powerful way to end the first half! I’ve been doing a new trick in the show the last couple of times – the Chinese Box Trick – and it’s been a baffling, entertaining, whimsical effect that generates some great audience reactions. Last night, I could heard dozens of people shout “No Way!” over the applause!

The second half of the show moved along just as well as the first. Cindy did an outstanding job (as always) of making this all work. And Nolan did a great job of getting in on and off the stage – working only off stage left!

A friend of ours drove in from Lakeland to see the show. It was quite a drive for Clarke, but we had the chance to visit briefly with him in the Green Room afterwards before having to head out to the lobby to meet the audience.

I could not have not have been more pleased with the day – the crew, the set up, the flow of the show, the audience reactions, the on-stage volunteers, the lobby meet-and-greet afterwards, etc. A great way to end our Florida tour!

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

We drove most of the day on Thursday, Valentine’s Day. We left Key West around 12noon for what was supposed to be a four hour drive. The traffic was fairly light until we hit Miami. Between accidents and road construction, we were held up for several hours. It took almost three hours to drive the final 20 miles to the hotel!

Friday morning, we made our way to the Parker Playhouse. This is a really beautiful theatre. The show had less than 30 tickets remaining before being sold out and they assured us that, throughout the day and with walk up, we would be more than sold – turning people away.

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We are starting the two day journey back to Virginia but I will write more about our set up day and the show tonight! The entire experience was awesome!

KEY WEST – LAST DAY

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

After a really exciting and fun show on Tuesday night, we were able to spend Wednesday enjoying Key West. We are staying in a beautiful resort – the Double Tree Grand Resort.

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We all took advantage of the day off and slept in a bit. We met around 11am and took off for the main street, Duval Street, and the center of action on the island. Once we found a place to park, we found a place to eat! The Key West Cheeseburger was our stopping place. The weather was beautiful and we were enjoying the sunshine. Soon after our food arrived, the weather took a major change and it started raining – high winds and hard rain! We stayed at the restaurant for a while finishing off our meal….and coffee and dessert. The rain let up but didn’t stop so we ran across the street and picked up some rain ponchos. Ah, how attractive these colorful garbage bags are BUT they kept us dry!

The rain did eventually stop and the sun returned. Keith and Nolan walked on up Duval and down Greene exploring the area. Cindy and I decided to stop off at a few stores and check out the fashions. We bought a couple of things and then started toward the Mel Fisher Museum. This guy discovered the Atocha shipwreck filled with over 400 million dollars of treasure. The museum documents the find and showcases some of the treasure – amazing stuff!

We left the museum and walked toward Mallory Square. This is a really cool place, open on the ocean, where people gather to watch the sunset and see the street performers. We knew we would be coming back here tonight for sure. but, in the meantime, we sat down and took in the view of the ocean. Carter was excited about the birds – which are everywhere down here. Not just the seafaring kind, but Key West chickens are very famous!

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After the three of us – Cindy, Carter, and I – enjoyed some time by the water, we met up again with Keith and Nolan and grabbed a late afternoon snack at another local establishment. Once done, we all walked back to Mallory Square where the crowds were beginning to gather for the evening sunset.

Nolan was roped into helping one of the street performers. Cindy and Carter walked around and took some GREAT pictures (which I’ll get posted on Flickr next week). I had the videocamera in hand and took some video of the performers and the surroundings. Keith watched Nolan entertain the crowd.

I saw a young lady magician doing some street magic as well as one of Key West’s famous performers, Gazo – another magician. I walked over to ask when the jugglers would be starting their performance and they greeted me with, “We really enjoyed your show last night.” The young lady magician did the same. It is really wonderful to have the support of the local performers here and it seems that most of them were in attendance the night of our performance. Now, we would be able to enjoy them!

We had a fantastic time and then took in one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen!

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The night was just beginning! We would head over to the Schooner’s Wharf later in the evening to catch a little magic from the local magicians. I’ll write more about that later. Gotta hit the road for Fort Lauderdale! We open at the Parker Playhouse on Friday night to another SOLD OUT audience!

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS ARTS CENTER – KEY WEST

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

We had an incredible day yesterday working with everyone at the Tennessee Williams Center for the Arts in Key West. From the moment our truck pulled into their loading dock, we knew these guys were organized and ready for us. Matt Rawls and his entire crew – Duffy, Wade, Chad, and Dave – were so prepared in every way, the day was non-stressful and enjoyable.

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This will be our fourth appearance in Key West. When we arrived, we were told the show was almost sold out…and the phone was ringing off the hook. The KEY WEST CITIZEN had a very nice article in Sunday’s paper but we had been sold for many weeks.

Frank (the executive director) was excited about us being here – and that enthusiasm obviously was transferred to the community. As the audience started to arrive, you could send the excitement in the crowd. And once the show began, we were at capacity in the house – not a single seat remaining anywhere. To our surprise, there were even 10 people in the audience from our hometown in Lynchburg, Virginia!

Only minutes before the show began, tornado warnings were posted for the Keys, including Key West. Buildings were being evacuated but the show went on…and not a single person was even concerned. We had some really wonderful volunteers including a young man named Spencer who helped me with the “headache illusion.” He was brilliant!

The responses to the magic here were so overwhelming. This is an intimate space – the audience is very close to the stage and the seating arrangement has the entire crowd connected with the action on stage. We could see and hear their reactions and it was phenomenal. They were so intrigued and enthralled, their energy fed our energy onstage.

Once the show was over, this remarkable crew kicked into high gear and we were out within an hour. We dropped off the truck and hit the local Waffle House for a late dinner. Then back to the hotel.

Today, we’re going to spend some relaxing time in Key West, checking out the sights and enjoying the weather!

KEY WEST – SHOW DAY

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

We got up this morning to one of those Florida tropical rain storms. The sky opened up and buckets of rain came down – lighting and thunder completed the experience. This is what it looks like outside our hotel.
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We are getting ready to head over to the theatre now. We are expecting a good show tonight. This will be our fourth appearance over the years at the Tennessee Williams Center for the Arts and we’ve always had a great time. I’ll post more later about the day and the show.

THOMASTON, GA AND MORE

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

We finally pulled into Thomaston, GA in the late hours of Saturday afternoon. We had the chance to meet up with the director and see the R.E. Lee Auditorium before load in on Sunday morning. This was very helpful and allowed Cindy to start planning the show before we arrived. The venue is a bit limited, compared to where we normally perform and they were unable to get our light plot hung…that alerted us to the fact that Sunday was going to be a very busy day.

We arrived Sunday morning to find Jaye and the guys waiting for us at the loading dock. After moving a few things around, we started getting the equipment into the theatre. Cindy and Nolan worked miracles and were able to get everything into this show with the exception of two illusions. We made the decision to do a show without an intermission because it would allow for a better flow for the audience and allow us to get on the road faster to Key West. Rescheduling the show from Friday night to Sunday afternoon put a serious dent in the amount of travel time we had between performances.

The audience arrived and filled up the auditorium at a great pace. We had some really fun volunteers – including two guys named Cody! And the responses to the illusions were very good. I’m not a huge fan of matinee performances because audiences have a very different mentally and state-of-mind in the middle of the afternoon. In spite of it all, we still had a great crowd.

Nolan did a great job, even with his smashed toe! He had the illusions packed up fairly quickly while the rest of us took care of sound, lights, magic, etc. We were on the road by 5pm.

We drove about 4 hours on Sunday and spent the night in Lake City, FL – it was nice to make it that far! It was a good day, all around.

We were up early this morning and on the road by 7am. After another 12 hours on the road, we arrived in Key West around 6pm. We checked into the hotel and then went and found food. We had the unexpected pleasant experience of eating in this great little “deli” that turned out to be INCREDIBLE!

I’m exhausted – getting some sleep before the show on Tuesday. BTW, it’s about 80 degrees in February.

ANDERSON, SC

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

We had a much easier day yesterday given what the last few days have been like. We were able to get that final case into the back of the rental truck around 9am on Friday morning. And then we had to stop and buy Nolan a pair of much larger shoes to wear since his toe is all bandaged up! Once done, we were on the road around 10:15am.

Traveling in two vehicles is very different for us. My best friend in magic – Andre Kole – has always traveled in two vehicles. For us, we’ve been in our custom rig for the last 10 years and making the change is difficult. You forget how comfortable that trucks is but, more importantly, you forget that you actually LIVE in that truck – all the necessities are there. Trying to do that from a suitcase only is a very different challenge.

Cindy and Keith were in the Explorer. Nolan and I were in the truck. We moved along very well and made it into Anderson, SC around 5pm. A good first day. We’ll finish the trip into Thomaston, GA today (about 4 hours) and then relax for the evening. Tomorrow will be a long day – load in at 9:30am, show at 2:30pm, load it out and drive another 4 hours to somewhere so we can make Key West by Monday night.