Archive for October, 2009

JOHN HILL AUDITORIUM – GEORGETOWN, KY

Monday, October 26th, 2009

This was our first appearance at John Hill Auditorium.  We had a few challenges during the day, the first one was getting the equipment into the theatre.  We had several large football players from Georgetown College as loaders so they managed to get several tons of equipment up the steps and onto the stage.

The second challenge came when the Fire Marshall became concerned about the backstage area.  The backstage area is small and our cases are really big.  He was concerned that we might block some of the fire exits.  Between Dr. Burnette and Cindy, they were able to come up with a plan that pleased him.  Once that plan was approved, Cindy, Ethan, and Alan kicked into high gear to get it all set up. Way to go guys!

Next, Keith and I moved on to getting the backdrop in the air…and the conventional and intelligent lighting.  Keith got our board hooked up and everything patched very quickly.  In the end, everything worked out great.

The crowd started to build at 7pm and doors opened at 7:30pm.  The auditorium was almost half full immediately as people took their seats.  By 8pm, we were packed and they were putting people in the balcony and along the back wall.

I had a couple of surprise guests in the crowd.  We always appreciate the support of the local magicians who come to the show.  I had the chance to visit with some of them afterwards.  I also had some friends from my high school days who live in Richmond, KY drive up to see the show.  It was great seeing them as well – lots of memories.  And my Aunt Martha and cousin Mary Beth drove in from Louisville.  It’s been almost 17 years since I’ve seen my Aunt (and she hasn’t changed a bit).

The audience was excited, enthusiastic, with more energy than the room could hold!  Great volunteers, great reactions and responses, and a standing ovation in the end.

RENAISSANCE THEATRE – A BIG NIGHT FOR US

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Yesterday was a fantastic day!  This is our fourth visit to the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield, OH in the last 10-12 years.  Brandon and the entire team here are great and always make us feel at home.  This is one of those theatres where you really do feel like family.

Our day started fairly early because the show was scheduled to begin at 7pm.  But our hotel was right next door to the theatre – no drive time, just walk across the parking lot.  There’s a lot of construction going on around the Renaissance Theatre.  They’ve just added a $5 million addition (very nice) and they are preparing to move the loading dock.  I pulled the truck to the dock while the rest of the guys scoped the stage and prepared for load in.

Load in went smoothly.  This is a great crew and we set several time records during the day.  Before noon, we had all the backdrops in the air, the intelligent lighting in place, and everything in the proper location on stage.  LUNCH!

After lunch, we were back and started hitting it hard to get the conventional lighting focused, the intelligents programmed, and all the illusions spiked on the stage.  We had this all done by 4:30pm – another record with this crew!

During the afternoon, Mr. Tony Hassini (President of the International Magicians Society) arrived in Mansfield to spend the day with us in the theatre.  What an honor it was to have him with us for the entire day.  He was there to watch the show go up, see the details of how a touring show works from theatre to theatre, and gain a better understanding of just how we bring our show to communities around the world.  We would later find out that he was there for another reason as well.

The show started right on time – 7pm.  What a great audience!  We are never disappointed by the crowd in Mansfield and this was no exception.

However, the big moment of our night came at the top of the second half of the show.  Brandon, GM of the Renaissance, welcomed the audience back from intermission and then introduced Mr. Hassini.  Mr. Hassini addressed the audience and briefly explained the history of the Merlin Award.  He then introduced Cindy and I and awarded us with the prestigious MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR award, presented by the International Magicians Society.  It was very cool!

A big THANK YOU to the community of Mansfield for their continued support of our show…and to everyone at the Renaissance Theatre for always taking care of us, making us feel like family, and for the great work that they all do!

TICKET DEAL FOR THE ROSE THEATRE – BRAMPTON, ONTARIO

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

On Monday, November 23, 2009, we will be performing at The Rose Theatre in Brampton, Ontario.  This is our ONLY performance in Canada this year.  And this is a spectacular theatre!

For those of you who are in the Brampton area, the promoter of this performance – Hype Events – is offering a special promotion the week of October 22-29.  If you buy two adult tickets, you get two child tickets for FREE!  This is a great deal!  You can buy tickets online HERE.

And soon, you’ll have a great chance to win a couple of tickets through The Brampton Guardian – stay tuned!

LEBANON & CENTRALIA, IL

Monday, October 19th, 2009

THE HET – LEBANON, IL

We just wrapped up a great weekend in Illinois and now we’re heading home for a few days.  We arrived in the Lebanon area on Thursday night and checked into our hotel.  We left out on Friday morning to make the short drive to The Het Performing Arts Center – what a spectacular venue!

I pulled the rig around to the loading dock where the crew was waiting, ready to go to work and get this show in the air.  And what a fantastic crew it was!!  The load moved along very well – terrific teamwork on their end and with our guys.  I could not have asked for an easier or more smooth day.  I was already excited about this show because it’s been sold out for a few weeks and this crew just made it an even more enjoyable experience!

The Het is a beautiful theatre and our production worked perfectly on this stage.  Doors opened, audience came in and the show was “on.”  Everything ran perfectly, very smooth, with wonderful volunteers and fantastic audience reactions.  My time in the lobby afterwards was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE AT THE HET IN LEBANON, IL – thanks Peter and the entire team!

JANE KNIGHT AUDITORIUM – CENTRALIA, IL

Saturday morning, we were up early to make the drive to Centralia, IL.  These two towns are only about 60 miles apart so the routing is great.  We arrived right on time at the loading dock for the Jane Knight Auditorium.

We loaded the show in with the help of the crew but this was going to be one of those shows where we would “take over” the stage.  The auditorium is located on the campus of Kaskaskia College and there were lots of things going on during the day.  Our show would be the culmination of the events though none of them were associated with us.  It was much easier for me, Cindy, Keith, Ethan, and Alan to pull the show together.

After loading in the cases, Keith and I started hanging and patching the light plot while Cindy worked on all her details and the guys started putting illusions together.  After the lights were complete, Mike (the TD) and I got the cloud backdrop in the air.  And it was time for lunch!

We finished up all the details after lunch and were ready for the audience to come in by 5pm.  Dinner arrived just in time, provided by the Culinary Arts students of the college.  Wow – this food was amazing! The big pick of the day was the chocolate lava cake!!

Show time brought in a fantastic audience.  The show went very well and the audience gave us a standing ovation in the end.  It was a great way to wrap up the weekend.

We’re heading home now and should be there today!

BOUNCING EXPERIENCE

Monday, October 12th, 2009

We took the day to visit one of the area Kansas City shopping areas, Oak Park Mall.  It was a fairly relaxing time strolling through the stores and making a couple of purchases.  The real fun came when we hit the Merry Go Round.  Cindy, Ethan, Alan, and I all piled into one of the “units,” it had to be the one with the handle in the middle so we could get it to spin around.  I think we might have scared a few of the kids (or at least their parents) because we were spinning FAST!

After the Merry Go Round, we walked on up to the thing we’d been planning to do – the Giant Jumpy Thing (not sure of it’s actual name).

There was quite a line of people ahead of us, most of them under the age of 8, less than 3 feet tall, and weighing about 40 pounds!  We were definitely the big guys of the group!  We had to wait a long time to let the little ones have their turn before we were able to get hooked up.

After paying our $7, we walked through the gate to the scales.  Yes, they had to weigh us so they knew how many bands to hook to us.  We were each assigned our trampoline, strapped in, and the fun began!

Cindy didn’t jump BUT she did take video with my iPhone.  I’ll get that posted as soon as I can.

Today, we’re staying in the hotel and I’m going to get some work done.  I’m a little behind on some things and the paper work is starting to stack up!  It’s raining in Missouri and the temperatures have turned cold (but no snow in the forecast).  It’s a good day to stay inside.

CARLSEN CENTER – OVERLAND PARK, KS

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Last night was our performance at the Carlsen Center in Overland Park, KS.  I’ve been here all week working in the community and on campus conducting workshops, visiting hospitals, and teaching classes.  Ethan and Alan have been working along side of me.  Cindy and Keith flew in on Friday night.

From Thursday to Friday, there was also a big change in the weather!  Temperatures dropped from the 60′s into the 30′s over night…and stayed that way!  There was actually a “slight chance” of snow predicted for today but it looks like it missed us.

Saturday morning, we drove the rig over to the Carlsen Center.  I can’t say enough good things about the technical crew.  Professional, friendly, and hard-working – the day was a smooth one.  And the theatre is a beautiful space.

We were able to break for lunch around 1pm – soft goods and backdrops were in the air, intelligent lights were hung, props were assembled, and we were ready to begin focusing the traditional lighting and making the stage look “magical.”

The afternoon also moved along very smoothly.  Keith and two of the guys focused the front of house lights while me and one of the crew guys focused the on stage lights.  We were done quickly and could start tweaking the light cues for the show.

Tamara – our hospitality coordinator – had dinner on the table for us around 5:30pm, just in time!  We wrapped up a quick technical rehearsal with the crew and everyone was off to eat.

Doors opened at 6:30pm for the 7pm show.  The audience moved in quickly and, from the stage, it looked like a full house.  The audience was very diverse – families, senior citizens, college students were all there.  Volunteers were not a problem!  People were ready to have some fun – from their seats and on the stage.

This week in Overland Park was a busy, productive, exciting time.  From day one with television media blitz, through the week of workshops and hospital visit, to the final performance last night, the week was memorable in so many ways!

OVERLAND PARK, KS

Friday, October 9th, 2009

I’ve been working in Overland Park with the several departments of Johnson County Community College.  After the performance in Emporia, Keith and Cindy flew back to Virginia while Alan, Ethan, and I drove up to Overland Park.  We had a relaxing Sunday afternoon and enjoyed some fine Kansas City BBQ at one of the local establishments, Mama Jo’s BBQ.

On Monday, we were up early so I could make an appearance on the local FOX 4 Morning Show.  These guys have always been great to me with an open invitation to make a return visit.  I had the chance to talk about all the events of this week and do a last minute plug for the Saturday night performance at the Carlsen Center.

Our scheduled really started to pick up on Tuesday.  Through a collaboration with Health Sciences and Arts Education, I was scheduled to conduct a 7 hour workshop for physical and occupational therapists.  We had a great group of reluctant therapists attend.  I say reluctant because everyone’s initial reaction to the use of magic in therapy is “doubt and hesitancy.”  After a brief introduction to the therapeutic validity of Magic Therapy, everyone was excited to learn a few tricks.  And as the afternoon progressed, these therapists walked away challenged and enthusiastic about using a new modality in the treatment plan.

Wednesday was another day of packed activities.  We started in the morning working with a reading class.  The goal was to improve reading comprehension and oral expression.  Given all the fun we had with these guys, I’d say the class was a success!

Next we were off to Children’s Mercy Hospital to work in several department there including oncology and the renal ward.

After a memorable experience working with these brave children, we moved on to another group of very brave kids.  This time, they weren’t in a hospital.  These children and their mothers were in a safe house for the abused and neglected.  Working with these kids literally brought tears to our eyes as we watched them play, learn, and laugh.

Today (Thursday) was the day I conducted another 7 hour workshop, this time for teachers, therapists, nurses, and psychologists.  This workshop was centered more on the concepts of the Hocus Focus Project – exploring how magic impacts the three main educational domains:  Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor.

It’s been a great week and it’s not over yet!

THE GRANADA THEATRE – SOLD OUT

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

After a fantastic day working with students in the classrooms, it was time to get ready for Friday night’s performance.  I did get a wonderful email from Kelly Olson, Child Life Specialist at Riverside Elementary.

The magic workshop that you put on for my students was amazing.  The kids (and adults) were amazed at all of the tricks they could do. Watching my students try new things and not feel defeated was an awesome experience.  I can see so many benefits for using the magic with my students!  They will be willing to “work” on the tricks over and over again while building fine motor skills as well as sequencing, problem solving and processing.  My students don’t always get involved in assemblies, but this assembly was all about them, for them and it was amazing!

Friday morning, we arrived at the beautiful Granada Theatre, signed in the crew, and started unloading the truck.

We were a little tight for space backstage but Cindy – as always – made most of it fit and workable.  The day moved along at a steady pace and we actually finished setting up earlier than normal.  This gave us some time to eat dinner with the crew and relax before the doors opened.

The show was sold out before we arrived.  When the doors opened at 7pm, people flooded into the theatre to find their seats.  Their enthusiasm stayed strong through the show, right up to the finale.

It was a fantastic few days in Emporia – a memorable experience for us and, I hope, for the community.

EMPORIA, KS – DAY #1

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Tonight is our performance at the beautiful, historic Granada Theatre in Emporia, KS.  If you live in the area, I hope you’ll check out the show!

However, we spent yesterday working at Riverside Elementary School with some very special kids and their teachers.  The day started with a phone-in radio interview with Ron and Chuck at WVOE at 8:30am.  Melissa then picked us up (me, Ethan, and Alan) and we made a quick stop at Starbucks for coffee before heading to the school.  She had made arrangements with the school to have three different classes with the students – three terrific classes!

After the workshops, it was time for lunch.  Melissa took us to Amanda’s in downtown Emporia for some homemade sandwiches and soups.  I had one half of a “Kickin Chicken Panini” (these sandwiches are HUGE) and some Texas Chili – delicious!

After lunch, we drove over to KISS 103 for another radio interview with Kyle.  We recorded this interview and they will uses portions of it on several different stations around the area – from rock to country.  Kyle was a fun interviewer and we covered lots of material.  Tickets have been selling well and we are expecting a sold out theatre tonight.

One final stop after the radio interview.  We drove up the street to check out the Granada Theatre and visit The Sweet Granada (Chocolate Cafe) right next door.  The theatre is spectacular and I’m excited to set up our show on this stage.  I’ll post more pictures tomorrow with my Day #2 post.

The Chocolate Cafe was a fantastic final stop!  So much chocolate including some treats for Carter!  Counter after counter of handmade chocolates, fudge, and more.  I couldn’t resist making several selections for my “box of goodies.”  Kim was incredibly helpful and, in the end, she and Melissa were kind enough to take care of the costs of all that chocolate.

Our first day in Emporia was very satisfying in so many ways!  I’m looking forward to the show tonight.  We’re heading over to the theatre in just a few minutes so I need to get ready.