Archive for February, 2009

LINCOLN, NE – DAY TWO

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Ethan and I spent the day at two different schools.  This morning we started at the Yankee Hill School just outside of Lincoln.  We had the privilege of working with some amazing young people in an atmosphere filled with excitement and enthusiasm!  What a great group of students!

Each and every person learned their tricks with great patience.  They followed directions, executed movements, and made a little magic happen in the gym this morning.

After lunch at Laslo’s, we were picked up and taken to Dawes Middle School for another workshop. We worked in the auditorium with students with were ready to be “performers” on the stage, performing magic tricks for their peers.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of this event yet BUT they are coming!  I’ll post them when I get them.

Tomorrow is our show at 7:30pm at the Lied Center for the Arts.  Check out the Lincoln Journal tomorrow – there should be a couple of articles in there about the show and the outreach today at Dawes Middle School!

LINCOLN, NE – DAY ONE

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

We arrived in Lincoln last night after two easy days of driving from Effingham, IL.  The weather the last two days has been great – temps in the 50′s – in the middle of February!  Tomorrow it’s going to get cold!!

We spent today working with two groups of students at the Seward High School with an immersion program sponsored by Time Warner Cable and the Lied Center.  Both groups were great fun – talented students who were quick learners.  Some of them even managed to take their new-found knowledge and create a couple of magic tricks of their own!  The Time Warner Cable cameras were there to capture the event.

It was a fantastic way to spend our afternoon.  And the really cool thing is these students will be attending our show on Friday night at the Lied Center.  Meeting them today will make the show more “personal” on Friday.

Tomorrow, Ethan and I have a full day ahead of us.  We start around 9:15am when Megan picks us up and we head over to Yankee HIll School.  We’ll be working with students there for about 90 minutes.  Quick lunch break and then we head to Dawes Middle School to spend the afternoon working with a selected group of students.

We’ll be joined in the afternoon at Dawes Middle School by the camera of Time Warner, the local CBS affiliate, and a reporter from the Lincoln Journal.  Tomorrow is definitely “media day” in Lincoln.

I’ve still got tons of email to answer and some Facebook things to do!

COLUMBIA, ROLLA, AND EFFINGHAM

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

It has been an extremely busy week – Iola, KS, Bartlesville, OK, Columbia, MO, Rolla, MO, and then to Effingham, IL.  Back to back shows and community activities have kept us very busy.  I’ve blogged about Iola and Bartlesville (though I didn’t talk about the very cool Frank Lloyd Wright hotel we stayed in there – his only skyscaper).

Rooms were VERY cool – not a 90 degree angle anywhere!  There was a coffee table book in the room talking about Wright’s work and this building specifically. 

COLUMBIA, MO – JESSE AUDITORIUM

I’ve posted about the day of activities Ethan and I had in Columbia on February 18.  On Thursday morning, February 19 (the day of the show), I was up early again and Cheri picked me up at the hotel.  We were off to WFIR Rado for an interview on one of the popular morning shows.  Immediately following that interview, we drove over to the local ABC affiliate, KMOU, for an appearance on “Pepper and Friends” – a locally produced variety show with a big following.

Both local papers wrote wonderful stories about the outreach activities from the day before.  The Columbia Missourian had a nice article AND so did the Columbia Tribune.

Cheri dropped me back at the hotel, I changed clothes, and we all loaded into the rig to drive over to Jesse Auditorium to start setting up for the evening performance.  We’ve performed here several years ago and had a great time.  This is one of the shows I’ve been looking forward to doing…because we know the show will look good on this stage.

The crew here is very professional and hard workers.  The show loaded in smoothly and set up was uneventful – good preparation before we arrived always makes the day go easier for everyone.

Doors opened at 7pm for the 7:30pm show – and the audience rolled in, about 1300 of them!  What a wonderful audience too!  They responded with audible enthusiasm to each of the illusions we presented. And, in the end, I had the chance to spend time with lots of people in the lobby afterwards to hear their favorite moments of the evening.  This is my favorite part of the night!

Cindy, Keith, and Ethan worked hard with the crew to get the show down and packed back into the trailer. We would need to drive to Rolla, MO after the show so we needed to get on the road fast!  We drove all the way to Rolla so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning!

Columbia wrapped up as a very full, productive, and amazing visit – two days of workshops and performance pulled together by some great people.  A HUGE thank you to Kimberly and Cheri for all they did to make our time there memorable!

ROLLA, MO – LEACH THEATRE

We pulled into Rolla a bit after midnight on Friday morning.  This would be a short night and an early morning.

We have performed at Leach Theatre in Castleman Hall several times in the past.  These are the nicest people and folks that we look forward to working with!  The theatre is intimate, not a bad seat anywhere, and the stage is perfect for our show.  The new TD, Christopher, was ready for us when we arrived.  And his student crew from the University were standing by to help.  We could not have asked for a better day! This has been the week of good crews and great audiences!

It was time for dinner before we knew it and Emily (who always takes great care of us) had arranged for a nice sit down meal served on REAL dishes, with REAL silverware!

The meal was excellent (Cindy’s not in the picture because she took it).  I could only think, “I need to stop eating or I’ll never get out of that water escape!”

The audiences we have had in Rolla in years previous have always been great.  Friday night was no exception!  A large enthusiastic crowd filled the Leach Theatre and we were only a handful of tickets away from a capacity audience.

Several friends of ours came to this performance.  Paul and Rebecca Ebeling from Kansas City drove down for the show.  We haven’t seen them in quite some time.  And an old college friend of both Cindy and mine drove in from St. Louis with his wife and family.  It has been a LONG time since we’ve seen Dave Booker!

Once again, we had to tear down, pack up, load out and hit the road immediately following this show.  Our next performance was in Effingham, IL at the Rosebud Theatre – some 215 miles or 3.5 hours away.  We drove about 2 hours and pulled over in Collinsville, IL, about 2 hours from Rolla.  Another short night, early morning was on the itinerary for Saturday.

EFFINGHAM, IL – ROSEBUD THEATRE

We were on the road early to finish up the last 90 miles to Effingham.  We’ve never performed at the Rosebud Theatre before so this is a new adventure for us!  The venue is only slightly more than a year old and bringing lots of variety to the Effingham area.

We negotiated this contract more than a year ago with Matt and Brad; and, when we arrived, we were greeted by a familiar face – Janie Oldfield!  We’ve worked with Janie in Chicago and in Baton Rogue.  I knew the three of them would have everything ready and under control – and they did not let us down!

This is one happy crew!  And we had another great friend drive over from Terre Haute, IN to spend the day with us – Tom Pitts of Thomas James Productions (if you ever need anything technical, this is the guy).

The venue has a few technical challenges for a show like ours but the guys here are “professional problem-solvers” and they meet challenges head on.  I was impressed with their skills and their willingness to “make it work” without a single complaint.  It’s a very large stage in both width, depth, and height.  Our first challenge was to get one of our backdrops in the air.  They already had a plan in place for this and, in the end, it looked very good!

Once the intelligent lighting was hung on the electrics, we began to focus the remaining fixtures to prepare for the evening show.  They told us that tickets had been selling well and, when the doors opened, there was a nice crowd waiting to find their seats.

The stage here is so big it’s tough to hear the audience responses.  There were a number of times, however, where they responded so loudly, we could definitely hear them – the Brick Wall, Windshear, No Feet, and the Water Escape!

In the lobby afterwards, I was able to talk with so many people and listen to their reactions individually.  It was positive feedback and a fun evening for us.

By the time I made it back from the lobby to the stage, my team and their crew had the show down and almost loaded back into the trailer.  I had to change clothes quickly so they could have my waredrobe case and then I went back to the lobby – now empty – to tear down our display and merchandise.

This would be our first night in several that we did NOT have to drive after the show.  We went to our hotel and went to bed!

EFFINGHAM, IL – ARC COMMUNITY CENTER

As most of you know, we have coordinated a project called Healing of Magic for many years now.  This is a very important project for us and one that I’m dedicated to seeing advanced.  I’m currently working on an expansion of this project called Hocus Focus designed for special needs/education students in the school system.

Today, Ethan and I spend the afternoon with some amazing and incredible people at the ARC Community Center just outside of Effingham in Teutopolis, IL.  Janie picked us up at the hospital and we made the quick trip to the Center.

First we met with the staff to explain what we wanted to do with their consumers.  We taught the staff several of the tricks that we would be teaching so they could assist us.  A reporter from the Effingham Daily News was also there and should have an article in Tuesday’s paper.  I’ll try to post it when it’s printed.

Once we finished up with the staff, we moved into the big room and started to teach tricks to their consumers.  This was a fantastic afternoon of fun, laughs, smiles, enthusiasm, applause, and more!

Yes, this is a BIG smile from Kevin – one of many people who learned some pretty cool tricks today.  I also captured some amazing video that I hope to share very soon.

Tonight – we rest as we watch the Oscars and try to finish up some work (including my blog and our March newsletter).

BARTLESVILLE, OK & COLUMBIA, MO

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

After a great day in the theatre in Bartlesville on Monday, I spent Tuesday morning working with a group of students from the local elementary school.  They came to the Community Center to learn a few tricks with the Hocus Focus project.  There were about 40 students in attendance who earned the privilege of being at the workshop based on behavior, reading, and academics.  They learned quickly and had no problems getting up in front of their friends and performing on the stage.  It was great fun!

After the workshop, we all jumped in the rig and started the drive to Columbia, MO.  It took a bit longer than we expected after a longer-than-expected stop at the Kansas Point of Entry to pick up my Trip Permit. The officer was very nice and we ended up talking for a while, then hit some traffic around Kansas City, and the search for food/fuel on Interstate 70.  We finally pulled into Columbia around 8pm.

Today started off early, up at 7am.  Ethan and I were picked up at the hotel and made our way to the University of Missouri Elder Care program.  We worked with a wonderful group of Senior Citizens with the Healing of Magic program.  Next, we worked with some speech pathology children teaching them magic tricks to help with vocabulary and socialization.  Once we finished with these groups, we were heading to the Occupational Therapy department to do an hour of teaching with several students who will be entering the field of rehabilitation medicine in the next few years, exposing them to different treatment modalities.

After a quick lunch at a very cool restaurant, we were heading to the University Medical Center to do a small performance for the Arts In Healthcare program there.  This is a fun program that incorporates the performing arts in the medical system and is gaining popularity across the country.  After wrapping up here, we were off to the University again to work with a group of Physical Therapy students!  We finished up this part of the day around 5pm – and drove back to the hotel for a bite to eat (and to see Cindy for a while!).

Tonight, I conducted a Continuing Education workshop for a group of Physical and Occupational Therapists who are alumni of the University.  This is always a fun time for me – a chance to work with professionals in the field and challenge them to re-evaluate their practice and their methods.  By teaching them to use “magic therapy,” we can also empower them with new treatment tools that will motivate their patients.

I also received an email today from Kirby VanBurch. In his email to me he stated that he had read my blog and was disappointed that I had not mentioned the fact that he and his lovely wife Bambi attended our show in Bartlesville.  He asked if I wouldn’t mind amending my blog to include that fact.  Well Kirby if your reading this, here it is:  Kirby is a great magician. He has his own theatre in Branson where he has played to huge crowds for the past 15 years. I have know him since we were both kids attending the “Texas Association Of Magicians” convention in Houston, Texas.  We have remained friends all these years and although I was truly happy and surprised to see my old friend again (and could not believe he drove 4 hours in each direction to see us), I did forget to mention that fact in my blog.  Kirby – thanks for the visit. I wish we had more time to spend together talking about our mutual journeys in the art of magic.  Keep up the great work and next time, I will come to Branson to see you!

BARTLESVILLE COMMUNITY CENTER – OKLAHOMA

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

We’ve worked in a lot of venues with a lot for crews and today was a great day for us on so many levels.  We arrived this morning to find a warm and friendly crew waiting to help load us in and get the show set up. Everyone was smiles – no complaining in this group, and that’s a great way to start the day.

Equipment rolled straight to the stage making this one of the easiest load ins we’ve had in a while.  And then we got word that ticket sales were very strong and we were going to have a great audience for the show.

The venue is very unique – great stage and every seat is a good one.  The crew was very knowledgeable and made for a pleasant experience all day long.  Bud, Val, and Jo (from the executive offices) made us feel right at home.  It was like spending the day with family.

Our day moved at a steady pace – scenery, lighting, focus, tweaking lighting cues, etc.  The show was ready and we were hungry.  It’s rare that we get to eat on “real” dishes when we’re on the road.  Jo and Val set a table with glass dishes, salad bowls, and real silverware!  And the food was home cooked – delicious!

Once we finished up dinner, it was time to do the final checks before the doors opened.  Tickets had sold very well and we had a strong walk up at the box office.  The show was nearly sold out, that’s 1700 seats! And the audience was FANTASTIC!  From the very first trick, they responded so well.  Volunteers added their own special “touch” to the illusions they assisted with…strong reactions, great laughs, enthusiastic applause.

Tomorrow morning, Ethan and I will be conducting a Hocus Focus workshop at the Center.  I’m looking forward to that!  And then we’re off to Columbia, MO.

BOWLUS FINE ARTS CENTER – IOLA, KS

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

We arrived in Iola, KS the night before our performance there.  It is a quaint Midwest town with friendly people and where retirees hang out at the corner McDonalds.  We checked into the local Best Western hotel and then explored the area (including the local Walmart).

The next day, we pulled into the loading area of the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.  The loading dock here is interesting.  You can’t really back a truck up to it because there’s no room.  BUT these guys have done this hundreds of times and have an ingenious “system” that works.  We pulled to the loading door and they backed a flat bed truck next to our lift, attached a ramp, and created a “loading area” that made things much easier.

We performed in this theatre about 10 years ago and we have worked with with Jeff, the Technical Director, at another theatre in Pittsburg, KS.  The crew went right to work hauling our equipment onto the stage.

We worked throughout the day to get the show up.  We had a few technical things to deal with – some illusion repairs – and Jeff was very accommodating by calling a local electrician to come over to theatre. The electrician – Gary – was great.  He pulled himself away from the big KU/K-State game to help us out…and then wouldn’t even take a few bucks for his time.  I was extremely appreciative of his time and he took care of our problem.

Ethan is from Kansas so much of his family made the drive to Iola.  His grandparents, parents, brother and sister-in-law, niece and nephew, and friend (CJ)  were all there.  I know he was happy to see them and this was the first time they had seen him perform in our show.

I had received a FB message that Sean-Paul and Juliane from Branson were going to make the drive to Iola to see the show.  That’s quite a drive!  I had the opportunity to visit with them (and a couple of their friends) in the lobby afterwards.  They are such nice people.  I had the chance to see their show a few years ago with Andre Kole when we were in Branson.  They do a great a job – very funny and entertaining!

The theatre was a near capacity audience.  And while people were a little reluctant to volunteer, those who did come to the stage did a great job.  It can be a little intimidating being on stage in front of people who know you when you’re not used to “performing.”

After the show, we packed and loaded up all the equipment.  We were starving so we met Ethan’s parents and CJ at the local Taco Bell.  The manager fixed food for us and allowed us to stay even though they were closed.  It was nice having the place to ourselves!

We left Iola, KS this morning to make the 2 hour drive to Bartlesville, OK.  We pulled into town early – too early to check into the hotel – so we did what we always do.  We went and explored the local mall!

We have a performance here tomorrow at the Bartlesville Community Center – a grand place situated in the downtown area.  I hear tickets have been selling well and I’m looking forward to a great audience!

McCAIN THEATRE – MERIDIAN, MS

Friday, February 13th, 2009

We are back on the road, traveling from Meridian, MS to Iola, KS.  We were in Joplin, MO last night and finished the final 130 miles today.

The show in Meridian went very well.  We had a packed house – sold out – of all ages.  I was especially excited to see all the college age/young adults at the show.  We pulled the truck into the dock and the crew was ready to move several tons of equipment down the long path to the stage door.

Great volunteers kept the show rolling and we managed to deal with a few “technical difficulties” along the way.  I had the chance to meet hundreds of people after the show in the lobby – my favorite part of the night.

We are now in Iola, KS for our performance at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center on Valentine’s Day.  When we arrived this afternoon, it was about 64 degrees.  Temperatures are falling fast and the wind is blowing fairly hard.  Tomorrow, the temperatures will be at least 20 degrees cooler.

On the way here, we stopped in a mall to stretch and grab some food.  I saw this sale at one of the jewelry stores and couldn’t resist taking a picture.

MARTINSVILLE, VA

Monday, February 9th, 2009

We performed last night in Martinsville, VA for the Piedmont Arts Association.  We even made the front page of the newspaper today – the Martinsville Bulletin.

The audience was fantastic – full house and ready to have a great time!  If you read the article, you know that were with us from the very first illusion.

After the show, we had to pack up and get out of town.  We open on Tuesday night (tomorrow) in Meridian, MS – about 700 miles away.  We drove a bit after the show, stopping for the night in Hickory, NC.  We were up early this morning to finish up the trip.

We crossed into Mississippi and went into the Welcome Center.  As we were walking out, Ethan noticed that there was a magic show coming to town posted on the State Events Bulletin Board.

We’re going to relax tonight.  We start loading in at 10:30am in the morning.  I’m looking forward to the show!

ON THE ROAD AGAIN…

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

We are heading out today for shows in VA, MS, KS, OK, IL, MO and NE.  We’ll be on the road for about 3 1/2 weeks and then will fly home from Iowa in early March.  This will be the last time the rig is in Virginia until May!

If we’re in your area, I hope you’ll come and check out the show!  Tour dates are listed on our Facebook page!

PRINCETON & PARAMUS, NJ

Friday, February 6th, 2009

After surviving the Winter Storms of the Midwest and more than a few traffic back ups, we finally arrived in Princeton, NJ for our performance at the McCarter Theatre Center.  The show was sold out and the crew, under the direction of Steve Howe, was professional and ready to go to work.  I backed down the icy road to the loading dock, made the sharp angle turn and Ethan dropped the lift.  We were ready to get this stuff in!

Crew was great and the day went very smoothly.  The show that night was completely sold out.  The audience was great!  As one person put it, “I’ve never seen the Princeton crowd so into a show before!

We drove after the show to get to Paramus, only about 75 minutes away.  We would have an early morning load in there for two shows on Saturday – 3pm and 7:30pm.  Another great NJ crew under the direction of Thomas O’Neil.  We have worked with these guys in the past.  It’s a great theatre, intimate seating but large stage.

We wrapped up the day with two good shows for two great audiences.  The enthusiasm of these NJ audiences is always amazing to me!