Archive for January, 2009

WINTER STORM WATCH!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

We left out of Saint Louis this morning.  Ethan and I were up early to pick up the truck from the repair shop. We hooked up the trailer and made our way back to the hotel to get Cindy and Keith.  I wanted to be on the road before the next wave of the storm moved through.  Along the way, I had to work in a few interviews for upcoming shows.  The weather caught up with us before we left Saint Louis, mostly sleet and freezing rain to make our morning delightful!  So, it was easier (and more safe) to just pull over than to try and drive through the sleet and talk on my phone.

I did the radio interview first for a show on February 8 in Virginia.  Almost immediately afterward, I did a newspaper interview for an upcoming show in Rolla, MO.  And that one was followed by a newspaper interview for the February 8 show. We grabbed lunch and hit the road again.

We stayed in bad weather most of the day.  The storm moved across Illinois and into Indiana with us. As we moved through Indianapolis, it was treacherous to stay on the roads.  We pulled over on the east side of Indy for the night.  We are under a Winter Storm Watch/Warning from Indianapolis to Columbus, OH with 8″ of snow accumulation predicted.

Tomorrow, we continue to Princeton, NJ for performances there this weekend.

ST. LOUIS – STORM WARNING!

Monday, January 26th, 2009

We performed yesterday in Farmington, MO – just south of St. Louis.  It was a matinee (2pm) so we arrived very early.  Doors opened at 1:30pm and we were ready to go.  The audience was a lot of fun and the show went off very well.

I was scheduled to do a workshop tonight for a group of Physical Therapists but it was canceled because of a HUGE winter storm that is moving across the area.  We decided to get out of Farmington as quickly as possible to try and get ahead of that storm.  They were expected a lot of ice south of St. Louis and I definitely did not want to be driving in that!

We made it as far as St. Louis when something strange happened with our rig.  While driving north on Interstate 55 (and with no warning), the truck engine just stopped, shut down, quit running.  And then the warning buzzer went off.  That’s when I realized something was wrong and, as I tried to pull off the interstate, I also had no power steering.  Sixty-five feet of truck, 35,000 pounds, and I’m trying to steer it off the highway – fun!

I talked with our mechanic at home to try and figure out what might be the problem.  We also called the local International Dealer in St. Louis who called a tow truck to come and pick us up.  While waiting, I was able to do a little amateur mechanic work and found a burnt wire behind the ignition switch.  Tow truck arrived, hooked us up, and we were off.  We FINALLY made it to the repair shop (that’s a whole other story) and the great guys at International got it pulled right into the shop.

Meanwhile, just as the weather channel predicted, sleet starting moving in at 6pm!  It’s going to be an interesting night!  Cindy and Keith found us a hotel for the night.  Ethan moved the luggage into the truck. We called a taxi and they left for the hotel.  I stayed to settle up with the tow truck company and make sure everyone had contact numbers to reach me when they find out something about the rig.

We are expecting bad weather overnight…and we’ll be driving in it tomorrow.  It’s going to be a fun drive to New Jersey!

SHRYOCK AUDITORIUM – CARBONDALE, IL

Monday, January 26th, 2009

We had a great show in Carbondale, IL last night at Shryock Auditorium.  The SOUTHERN ILLINOISAN had a nice little review in the paper today.

We arrived in the morning and Seth (TD) and the crew were waiting, reading to go, at the loading dock. Once we backed in and scoped the stage, we realized there were a few things that could be done to make the day a little easier.  

Seth was great at anticipating our requests and just making it “happen.”  For instance, it would have been helpful to move a mid stage curtain to a different position.  He didn’t even blink (or complain).  He (and the crew) just made it happen.

In spite of the cold (or maybe because of it), load in went quickly and efficiently! And the day moved on at a steady pace.  Scenery, lights, special effects, hazers were all in place.  Cues were written and we were ready for a quick tech rehearsal before house opened.

It was a huge crowd of people of all ages – families, college students, children, senior citizens – nice mix and excitement was building with the light show.  By the time we took the stage, the audience was ready for the show!

Great volunteers made for a fun evening for everyone.  After the show, I made my way to the lobby to visit with patrons and then off to the upper lobby for a “meet and greet” with sponsors.  This was definitely one of the shows that I’ve been looking forward to this season.  Brian and his staff have been amazing to work with and I knew they would take very good care of us (and they did).

The show was down and packed back into the trailer in about 90 minutes.  And we were on the road, heading to Farmington, MO.  It’s not that far (less than 100 miles) but on small highways through rural Illinois and Missouri.  We pulled into our hotel around 1am – morning would come quickly with an 8am load in for the show.

ANOTHER VINCENNES STORY…

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

We arrived in Carbondale, IL tonight in preparation of our show here at Shryock Auditorium on Saturday night. It is going to be a crazy weeekend – show on Saturday, drive for a couple of house, early morning Sunday load in in Missouri for an afternoon matinee.  It’s a good thing we’ll have an early evening to sleep on Sunday!

Our Vincennes experience was positive in so many ways.  We did, however, have a couple of incidents where fans were a bit more “enthusiastic” than our security team felt was appropriate.  As a result, Thursday’s performance showed a much greater presence in the security detail.  End result?  No problems!

VINCENNES, IN – DAY THREE

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

The Red Skelton Theatre is a beautiful theatre nestled on the campus of Vincennes University.  This is a state of the art facility, world-class in every way.  It was an amazing experience to be here for two performances for fantastic audiences.

Since this was our second performance, we didn’t have to be there until early afternoon.  We arrived around 2pm and started re-setting for the 7pm show.

The audience was a mixed crowd of students, families, and older patrons.  We had some great volunteers on the stage and the show moved along at a nice pace.

In the end, the entire three days in Vincennes were memorable.  We had a great time working with Donna, Dick, and the entire crew at the Red Skelton Theatre!

VINCENNES, IN – DAY TWO

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I woke up on Tuesday morning to find a nice article in the Vincennes Sun Commercial on the workshops we did yesterday and a preview of the upcoming shows. This is just a glimpse of the long article.

We spent our second day in Vincennes getting setting up for our first performance here at the beautiful Red Skelton Theatre on the campus of Vincennes University.  The day moved along at a rapid pace and we had to deal with a couple of technical issues with our lighting. The crew here, under the direction of Dick Woods, is so accommodating and willing to assist in every way possible.  We had the opportunity to work with Dick almost 10 years ago on our last visit to Vincennes.  A professional photographer was at the show last night taking pictures for us so I should be posting those soon to our Flickr pages.

The audience was quite enthusiastic last night.  It was mostly a college audience with a few scattered people from the community.  We kept the show moving at a fast paced and I managed to try out a new illusion last night on the crowd.  The was the first time I’ve performed this effect and it went well I thought. I got lots of comments about it afterwards.  But the the effect that had the biggest impact on the crowd was the underwater escape.  Once they realized this was real and not a trick, their attention shifted.

In the end, it was a great show.  Tonight, we have the full two-hour presentation for a sold out audience of community and arts patrons.  It should be wonderful!

I just saw the cover of the NIGHTLIFE entertainment guide for Southern Illinois where I made the cover for the show on Saturday.  We made the cover of the FLIPSIDE entertainment guide last week.  I hope this is going to be a great crowd!

Okay, lots to do before heading over to the theatre for that second show.  I’ll write more again later.

DAY ONE – VINCENNES, IN

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

The morning started early with a workshop at the Civitan Childrens Center.  This is an great place where professionals assist children with special education needs prior to starting kindergarten and first grade. The room was filled with excitement as the students came into the room and took their seats on the floor.

After spending the morning with 5 year olds, we made a quick trip to the Red Skelton Theatre where we could watch part of the Inauguration ceremonies on the big screen.  Unfortunately, we had to leave before the swearing in of Obama to head to the Good Samaritan Hospital for an inservice workshop with physical and occupational therapists there.

They were gathered in the therapy gym just inside the Physical Medicine wing.  The therapists were a little skeptical at first about a magician teaching them a new treatment technique but, once they started learning the tricks, it was immediately evident that they saw the benefits for their clients.

I did an interview with a reporter from the Vincennes Sun Commercial newspaper.  She said there would probably be an article in tomorrow’s paper about the workshops and providing details about the performances.

TRAVELING THROUGH INDIANA

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

We arrived in Vincennes tonight after a fairly leisurely day of driving.  The temperatures are still very cold but not sub zero!  We spent some time today in Terre Haute visiting with a great friend to our show and to use personally.  Tom has been keeping us “on the road” with supplies, equipment, and technical advice for many years now.  He probably knows our show as well as we do at this point!  He showed us a few new gadgets and we picked up a couple of things that he had waiting for us.  I’m most excited about the remote for our new light board!

After our meeting, we finished up the trip to Vincennes.  We will be here for the next few days.  On Tuesday, Ethan and I will head out for a workshop at Civitan Children’s Center in the morning.  After lunch, I’ll be conducting an inservice program at the Physical Medicine department of one of the local hospitals.

On Wednesday, we have our first performance at the beautiful Red Skelton Center for the Arts.  That’s going to be a regular day of load in, set up, and show time.  But we won’t have to pack it all down!  We have a second show on Thursday night.  Tickets have been selling well and the Thursday night show has been sold out for some time.

The next few days should be amazing…and we get to sleep in the same bed for four nights!

NISWONGER CENTER FOR THE ARTS – VAN WERT, OH

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

As we begin our Spring 2009 tour, the first stop was Van Wert, Ohio.  While the temperatures here are extremely cold, the hearts in this community are extremely warm!  This was the perfect place for us to launch our spring tour.  From the moment we arrived, the staff of the Niswonger PAC has been hospitable, professional, and accommodating.

I spent much of the day on Friday with Paul and Cheri visiting two of the local rehabilitation and nursing facilities.  I worked with dozens of people in these two places.  It is always my goal that those who participate in this program not only have fun but find something that will help them through their rehabilitation.  While working with them, I hear so many stories and I always leave these experiences a bit more inspired than when I came in.  I met several inspiring people in Van Wert but none more motivating than Tyler Priest – a young man working his way back from a tragic accident this summer.  After suffering a traumatic injury, including a brain stem injury from which he should not have survived, his spirit and strength are a testimony to prayer and perseverance.

On Saturday, we loaded into the NPAC in warmer temperature (9 degrees) and the day went very smoothly. The crew was fantastic – hard working, friendly, professional – and they were ready for us when we arrived. Under the direction of Hugh Saunier, this crew was awesome.  We met very few challenges throughout the day and it was show time before we knew it.

The audience was clearly ready to get out of the cold and have a good time.  From the moment we hit the stage, they were enthusiastic.  Willing volunteers from the audience brought a touch of humor and local flavor to the show.  I met perhaps hundreds of people in the lobby afterwards (always one of my favorite times).  It’s great to get the audience’s feedback.

Two of our friends from college also were there last night – Jeff and Kandi Smith.  They made the drive up from New Bremen.  It’s always incredible to reconnect with people who were a significant part of our past. So, it was good to see them and have some time at the local “I Don’t Care Cafe” to reminisce and catch up.

Today, we head to Terre Haute where I’m hoping for some warmer temperatures.  I haven’t turned the rig off in three days for fear that the sub zero temps might prevent if from starting!

Thank you Van Wert for a wonderful and memorable experience!

WORKSHOPS IN VAN WERT, OH

Friday, January 16th, 2009

The day started off VERY cold!  I was up early but not sure where we would be conducting workshops this morning.  We were scheduled to be at Thomas Edison School to work with students there.  As it turns out, schools in the area were cancelled due to extreme temperatures.  This morning, -14 degrees as seen on my iPhone!

Cheri from the Niswonger Center had already planned ahead.  Instead of Thomas Edison School, we made our way over to Home & Health Center to work with some of the assisted living residents there.  After a fun morning, we stopped by the Performing Arts Center and then drove over to a local establishment, The Grille, for lunch.

We did spend the afternoon at Vancrest with some wonderful residents – about 65 in all!  When we arrived Lima NBC 4 was there to cover the adventure ahead of us.  I did a quick interview with the anchor, met with therapists to teach them a few tricks, and then we entered the “big” room.

The room was packed with residents.  I did a little magic and then Ethan and I started teaching them some tricks with therapeutic value.  We all had fun and the next 90 minutes seem to fly back.

Tomorrow is the show – 7:30pm at the Niswonger Center for the Arts.  It’s supposed to be warmer, temps in the mid 20′s.  But more snow is also on the way!