Archive for March, 2009

DRIVING TO FLORIDA

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

We left Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday for the leisurely trip to Florida.  We don’t have to be there until Wednesday night so it’s nice to be able to take our time.  The weather has changed considerably and we finally have the shorts and t-shirts on!

We stopped in Tifton, GA for the night and Cindy and I took the truck over to a service center to get the oil changed.  It’s about time and next week, Ethan and I begin the trip to California.

The guys got us right in to the bay and started working on us.  Cindy and I walked on over to the Steak & Shake to grab a bite for dinner.  I know it doesn’t sound “glamorous” at all, but it was relaxing for us after a crazy last couple of weeks.  When we came back to pick up the truck, they were just about finished with the job.

We picked up the truck and made our way back to the hotel for a quiet night.  On another note, David Knight gave me a call today.  I haven’t heard from him in a long time…it was good to talk, if only for a few minutes.

MADISON, WI – DAY FOUR

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Today is show day at the Capitol Theatre in the Overture Center for the Arts.  This is a beautifully restored 1920′s theatre nestled inside a very modern building.  It’s quite a paradox to move through the hallways of the Overture Center and through the doors of the Capitol – just stunning!

The Overture Center has 7 different performing spaces.  The Capitol Theatre is 1,000 seats and is the second largest theatre in the complex.  Overture Hall has about 2200 seats and a Broadway show was playing in that venue.

We started load in as soon as they loaded out the morning performance – about 1pm.  The local crew had been going full speed for the last few days but, in spite of it all, they were ready to get to work.  We loaded through the dock and onto the orchestra pit lift.  From there, the cases were raised to stage level where Cindy and the guys put it all in place.

Once on the stage, it was time to get to work!  Scenery and moving lights went up first.  Keith patched the light board while Cindy and Ethan worked on props and backstage things.  I was busy with the crew on the lighting.

The day was very steady.  With a slightly later than normal load in, we had to make up for some lost time. This technical crew was so helpful, willing to do what needed to be done, and worked hard with us to get the show up.  All of them were awesome – and no one complained when I needed to make a few changes here and there.

We managed to get set, grab a quick bite to eat, and then hit the stage for a fast tech rehearsal before opening the doors for the crowd.  The show was sold out – and that always adds a sense of excitement for us and the crew.

The audience was fantastic!  There’s nothing quite like performing to a full house of enthusiastic people. Madison did not let us down!  And once the show was over, the crew was right there to help load us out.

Steve Chezady – a friend of ours from Chicago – drove up for the show with a friend of his (Val).  After the show and loading out the equipment, we all decided to walk up State Street to find some food.  We ended up at a pizza place with some great, fresh pizza.

We managed to make it to bed by 2am – but just barely.  Our MADISON EXPERIENCE was a positive one for sure.  We met lots of wonderful people, worked with a great staff and crew at the Overture Center, and had some memorable experiences at the hospital and working with therapists.  This was a perfect four days!

MADISON, WI – DAY THREE

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

My third day started very early in the morning – 5:15am!  Robert was going to pick up Ethan and I in the lobby at 6am.  I would be heading over to WISC again for a 6:50am appearance on NEWS 3 IN THE MORNING.

The interview went very well – hosts were very relaxed and we had a great time.  I love doing these morning show appearances but, wow, they go really fast!

After the tv appearance, I went back to the hotel and answered some emails, worked a while on my computer.  I had a 10 am newspaper interview for our April 20 show at the Cheyenne Civic Center to get ready for and Cindy and I decided to walk up State Street and find some breakfast.  It was a quiet morning and I enjoyed some “alone” time with Cindy in Madison.

Around 12noon, Ethan and I walked over to the Overture Center to get ready for the 1pm HEALING OF MAGIC workshop for physical and occupational therapists.  We had a group of about 20 therapists coming over for a 4 hour Continuing Education Workshop.  I really enjoy doing these and this group was fun!

We spent the afternoon learning several magic tricks and discussing the therapeutic values of each one. Many of the therapists were excited to take the tricks back to their clinics or schools to use them with their clients.  That’s the best part of this workshop – giving them information/knowledge they can use right away!

We made it back to the hotel around 6pm.  I walked down to the Noodles & Company to pick up dinner for me and Cindy and then we relaxed for the rest of the night.

MADISON, WI – DAY TWO

Friday, March 20th, 2009

The day was off to a great start!  I had breakfast with Cindy before Ethan and I were picked up in the hotel lobby by Beth from the Overture Center.  We were on our way to the first activity of the day – working with some pediatric patients and their occupational therapist at the American Family Childrens Hospital.  Ethan was able to get some great pictures BUT the memory stick on the camera suddenly went nutty and we lost them all!

After this session, we were off to grab a quick bite to eat and then on to the LUNCH AND LEARN program that Dr. Joel Wish put together.  This is an informal session where doctors, nurses, therapists, etc. can gather and “learn” while having lunch.  We had a great group show up and they were good magic students – often surprising themselves with some of the tricks!

After LUNCH AND LEARN, we were on our way to the next thing on the schedule – working with some adult rehab patients in the OT/PT department of University of Wisconsin Hospital.  What started off as a few clients ended up growing as the workshop went on.  It was so amazing to watch these adults concentrate and strain to master the movements of each trick.  Strokes, head injury, hand injuries, and other diagnoses were all in the room…and were all learning tricks!  It was quite an incredible moment.

After wrapping up with the adult patients, we were off to the main lobby of the American Family Childrens Hospital to put on a little show for some of the children who could come down.  They have a great little performance area where patients and families can gather.  They are also able to close-circuit broadcast it to the rooms of children who aren’t able to leave their rooms.  We had a HUGE crowd, bigger than Santa Claus had in December!

After the show, we were on our way to the OT Department of the Childrens Hospital to work with some incredibly special kids.  Once again, these guys worked hard to learn the tricks, make the “magical,” and perform them for each other and their families!  And all the while, they are doing their therapy – you can’t get better than that!

We wrapped up with these guys around 4:00pm.  Dr. Wish helped us get to the lobby and back to the van where Beth whisked us off to the Overture Center for the last workshop of the day.  Another great group of people interested in magic!  It was a fun afternoon and we finally wrapped the day around 6:30pm.

Ethan and I walked back over to the hotel (just 3 blocks away), changed clothes, picked up Cindy and Keith and explored the Capitol Square in search of Indian food.  We found a great little place just on the other side of the hotel.  We were starving and the food was delicious!

I’m back at the hotel now.  I’ve spent the last hour answering emails and checking in on Facebook.  Wayne’s been doing a bit of that for me these last few days – helping me get caught up.  I did upload a new video on the HOCUS FOCUS project from Lincoln, NE.  I hope you’ll check it out.

Tomorrow will start early with a 6:50am appearance on WISC TV 3′s “News 3 in the Morning.”  Robert will pick me (and Ethan) up at 6am…that’s going to be here before I know it!

MADISON, WI – DAY ONE

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

We arrived in Madison, WI around 2pm this afternoon.  Because we are staying downtown, Keith worked with the hotel and the city to arrange for us to have several parking spaces on the street.  It made check in so easy – no worries, no problems!

After getting settled, Robert picked me and Ethan up and took us over to WISC TV-3 (CBS) for an appearance on LIVE AT 5.  The interview went very well – great hosts who kept the energy high about the upcoming show.

They played some of our b-roll footage from the show and we were able to talk about some of the illusions we’ll be performing.  In addition, the hosts learned a couple of tricks to show their friends and family.  Mark and Susan were great!

After the show, Robert dropped us off at the hotel. Keith joined us and we took a walk to Capital Square to find some food!  We ended up at a Madison landmark called The Old Fashioned.

Pretty cool place with a huge menu of Wisconsin favorites.  I ended up with the house burger (complete with cheddar cheese, fried egg, and thick sliced bacon) and a cup of chili – way more food than I could eat!  The portions were huge!

Tomorrow is a very busy day.  I start at 10am and will be going strong until 6pm – visits to the University of Wisconsin Hospital and the American Family Childrens Hospital.  Ethan will be going along to make sure I stay organized and to assist in these workshops.  It’s going to be a full day!

EAGLE RIVER, WI

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

We arrived in Eagle River, WI the night before our show.  This is a small resort town in Northern Wisconsin linked together by 28 lakes.  It’s simply spectacular!

We arrived on time at the theatre to start loading in for the evening performance.  Walt – the techncial director – had a great of guys ready and waiting for us.

Load in moved along well and we were loaded in quickly.  We worked diligently throughout the day and things went very smoothly.  I was very pleased with the way the stage looked once our scenery and lighting were in place.

The audience was going to be a good one – they were over sold out!  And when the doors opened, the audience was very anxious to find their seats.  Volunteers were great throughout the show and we ended with a pleased audience and enthusiastic applause.  It was a perfect day, perfect audience, perfect show!

Now we are on our way to Madison, WI for an extended Residency.  I’ll be appearing on LIVE AT 5 on the local CBS affiliate tonight.  Tomorrow is a packed day working in the University of Wisconsin Hospital and American Family Children’s Hospital.  Friday evening I have a Continuing Education Workshop for therapists. Saturday is the performance at the Overture Center.

HISTORIC HOLMES THEATRE – DETROIT LAKES, MN

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

We made the drive from Waverly, IA to Detroit Lakes, MN but a blizzard slowed us down a bit – remember? We are on the WEATHER CHANNEL TOUR!

We were hoping to arrive in Detroit Lakes on Wednesday night.  We were forced to pull over in Saint Cloud, MN for the night because Interstate 94 wasn’t quite clear of the 18 foot snow drifts just yet!  I made several phone calls throughout the day to the Minnesota Depart of Transportation Road Conditions Hotline to check on the roads.  I got to be pretty close friends with Larry, the guy in the office.

Temperatures were continuing to get VERY COLD in Detroit Lakes!

We left St. Cloud on Thursday morning to continue the journey.  The roads were in fairly good condition, only a few icy patches here and there.  Temperatures were not getting warmer though. I needed to be in Detroit Lakes before 1:30pm because I had a workshop with several therapists from the School System.  We arrived just in time and Amy picked me up at the hotel.

The workshop was at the Community Center where the Historic Holmes Theatre is also located.  I was welcomed by the marquee.  Tickets were selling well for the show!

After the workshop, we all went to dinner at the Country Kitchen.  Julian – the owner and our host – made us some wonderful food and set us up in a private dining room.  It was a pleasant and relaxing evening.

Friday the 13th – that’s show day!  We arrived in the morning to start loading in.  The process was a little different than our normal day – cases came off the truck, into the freight elevator, up to the backstage room, and then onto the stage.  Cindy had it all under control…

By show time, we were very close to selling out.  Tickets continued to move rapidly throughout the day while we were setting up.  And when the doors opened, the Historic Holmes Theatre was packed!  It was a great crowd and we are privileged to be the FIRST illusion show to grace the stage since it’s opening.  The audience was so responsive to our show – a very nice standing ovation at the end!

This morning (Saturday), Amy picked up Ethan and I and we were on our way to do a mini-show and workshop at one of the area Nursing/Rehabilitation Facilities.  It was a great time – watching these folks laugh and smile as they “mastered” each of their tricks.  I’ve got some pictures on the way!

Afterwards, we checked out of our hotel and started the drive to Eagle River, WI.  We thought it would be good to take our time, get some rest along the way.  Temperatures are finally warmer – in the 30′s – so it feels like a heat wave!

NEUMANN AUDITORIUM – WAVERLY, IA

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Our time in Waverly started off loading in the show the day before the performance.  I had several outreach activities to do so this was the easiest way to make it all work.  Hans and the crew were on top of things. Load in was a little different – some of the cases could come in directly to the stage but Windshear (a HUGE case) had to come in the “long way.”  In the end, it all worked.  Set up continued through the day and then I had to leave around 2:30pm for my first workshop.

The afternoon workshop was for the teachers of the Bremwood School. We wanted to expose them to the concepts of HOCUS FOCUS so they could implement it in their classrooms.  It was a fun afternoon watching them learn, explore new teaching ideas, and share their thoughts about the project.

After the workshop, I came back over to the Auditorium to pick up Cindy, Keith and Ethan.  Myrna – our gracious host – was going to pick us up at the hotel for dinner.  We ate at a local establishment (one of our favorite things to do – experience “local” cuisine) and the food was great.  I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie – delicious!

The following morning, Ethan and I conducted the second workshop.  Students from Bremwood came over to Neumann Auditorium with the faculty to experience the Hocus Focus project on a different level.  There were 110 students – anxious to get started learning some magic tricks.  The morning moved along well and it was exciting to watch these guys learn tricks, get up on the stage and perform them while their peers cheered them on!

Once the workshop was over, Myrna took us back to the hotel.  All of us went to the local Taco John’s for lunch and then back over to Neumann Auditorium to prepare for the 7:30pm show.  Because much of the work had been done the previous day, this was an easy afternoon.

Around 5pm, we took our dinner break.  Myrna had arranged for food to be served in a private dinning area off the stage.  The table was set with real plates and silverware, napkins and glasses.  Being on the road as much as we are, we don’t have the chance to eat like this often.  Eric – our waiter – was there to take care of us and did a fantastic job.

When the doors opened, the audience rolled in!  I could tell from the “chatter” that this would be a great audience – and they didn’t disappoint me.  We also had a record crowd – more than 1,000 people – for the performance.  Their willingness to participate, engage, and respond made it a wonderful experience for all of us.  When the show was over, we were all pleased with the way things went.  It was a strong performance for an enthusiastic audience.

A big thank you to Myrna, Hans, and the entire committee and crew for such a memorable experience!

WEATHER CHANNEL TOUR…CONTINUES

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

We had a great show last night in Waverly, Iowa…and I’ll write more about that tomorrow.  I’m waiting for a few pictures of my workshop with the teachers from Bremwood School.  What a fun afternoon!

Today – we continued the Weather Channel Tour.  I mentioned in a previous blog that we’ve been on this tour for a while now.  If there’s a major weather disturbance somewhere in the country, we’re probably in the middle of it.  This week is no exception.

We left out of Waverly this morning as the temperatures plummeted from the thirties to sub zero!  High winds and resulting wind chills today are brutal.  We are supposed to be in Detroit Lakes tonight for a workshop there Thursday afternoon.  I spoke with our contact there yesterday – Amy – and she said that they were in the middle of a blizzard – 15 inches of snow and high winds.

This morning, temperatures were extremely cold in Waverly and the winds were still very high.  After our “Lincoln Experience,” I’m making sure there’s plenty of additive in our diesel fuel!

I called Minnesota Road Conditions to find out the state of Interstate 94 and US Highway 10 before hitting the roads today.  Turns out, they were both CLOSED due to massive snow drifts, packed snow, and ice!  We pulled over in St. Cloud for the night (where it’s very cold – see above).  We’ll finish the rest of the trip on Thursday.  Here’s the way Detroit Lakes looks tonight:

Look at those dangerous wind chills for tomorrow – minus 25 degrees!!!!!

DRIVING TO WAVERLY, IA

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Last night, we moved to Daylight Savings Time – so we lost an hour of sleep!  Morning came quickly.  I grabbed breakfast at the hotel, did a little reading, and went back to the room to get a shower.  We were on the road at 11am, heading to Waverly, IA for our next Residency Project and Performance.

It was already raining, sometimes very hard with lighting and thunder.  As we drove north, the rain mixed with snow and started to get nasty!

Once we were north of Cedar Falls, IA everything turned to snow and it was starting to come down very hard!  It seemed like this came out of nowhere because the roads were getting very bad and there wasn’t a snow plow in sight.

Those last few miles into Waverly were treacherous!  We watched one car loose control and spin out on the road several times.  We made it to the hotel just as it started into “blizzard like” conditions and visibility was reduced to practically nothing.