Archive for May, 2010

LEAVING FOR ITALY

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

This is going to be a busy day!  Now that we’ve wrapped up our 2010/2011 tour and back at home, we are rushing to wash our clothes and repack for an adventure in Italy.  My parents are flying in today from Little Rock.  They’ll arrive this afternoon.  And, then, first thing in the morning, we’ll make the drive to Washington Dulles International Airport to board our AirFrance flight to Paris continuing on to Venice, Italy.

Cindy and I were in Venice in 2008.  We both fell in love with the charm and beauty of this island city.  We are so excited to be taking my mom and dad with us on this trip!  We’ll spend four nights in a hotel on the Grand Canal, just a few steps from the Rialto Bridge and San Marco’s Square.  This will be the perfect place to relax and drop into the time zone.  The pace is slow and casual with great shopping and amazing food!

After Venice, we’ll board the EuroStar train for a four hour journey through the Italian countryside – Tuscany – until we arrive in Rome, the Eternal City.  Our hotel is located in the Via Vittoria Veneto area of Rome not far from the Spanish Steps and some amazing history.  We’ve got some great plans for Rome including a tour of Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, a visit to one of the most famous flea markets in Europe – the Porta Portese Market – and a personal guided tour of the “history of civilization,” The Roman Forum.

Ok, so I’ll be out of the office through June 2.  Keith and Alan will be around to take care of things.  I won’t have access to email while I’m gone so, if you try to reach me, I’ll get back to you on June 2.

FERGUSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS – VA

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Last night was the final performance of our Spring 2010 tour.  Not only was it in a beautiful theatre, it was only about 4 hours from home!  We were originally scheduled to perform at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in February but a big snow storm rescheduled the date.

It was the perfect ending to our tour – great crew, great venue, and great audience!  We had a near-capacity crowd in this 1700 seat theatre.  Before the show, I had a private “meet and greet” with about 25 people you were a part of a promotional contest.  And then, they opened the doors to the theatre and the rest of the crowd rolled in.

Afterwards, I had the privilege of meeting hundreds of members of the audience in the lobby – photographs, autographs, and good conversation. I met a few of the area magicians as well.

So, on behalf of our entire team – thank you Newport News for supporting the show!  And thanks to everyone at the Ferguson Center for an amazing experience!

TELEVISION DAY IN NEWPORT NEWS

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Wow, 5:30am came really early!  Alan and I were out of the hotel by 6am heading over to FOX 43 in Portsmouth, VA to make an appearance on THE HR SHOW – a hip morning show concentrating on the people and happenings in the Hampton Roads area.  It was a very enjoyable experience working with all the hosts and, Stephanie (the producer) could not have made us feel more comfortable.  You can watch the segment by clicking on the image below.

After the interview, we stopped off at a local restaurant called D’EGG in Norfolk for a little breakfast before driving over to WVEC for an interview on 13 NEWS AT NOON.

And after eating some great food, we made our way to the WVEC television studios.  This was another fun interview.  They “bumped” the Friday night show several times when going to commercial and showed some of the video footage as well.  The interview was casual and fun.  The show is Friday at 7:30pm at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, VA.  It’s going to be a great audience – I can feel it!

OFF TO NEWPORT NEWS, VA

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

We are heading out today for the quick drive to Newport News, VA (about 4 hours).  Our show is Friday night at the beautiful Ferguson Center for the Arts on the campus of Christopher Newport University.  This is the last performance of our Spring 2010 tour.  This date was originally scheduled for February but those snow storms caused us to reschedule.  The weather is MUCH nicer now!

We’re heading down early because most of Thursday will be spent doing some pre-show television and radio interviews.  I’ll start the day with an appearance on the HAMPTON ROADS SHOW on Fox 43.  The show airs live from 8am – 9am so we’ll be at the studio around 7:30am.  I’ll be talking about the Friday performance as well as the upcoming release of the Hocus Focus project.

After my Fox appearance, we’ll drive over to WVEC for the second interview of the day, this one on 13 News at Noon.  This should also be a fun interview.  I’ll talk about the Friday night show, teach a couple of tricks, and perform some close-up magic for the host and viewers.

If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, I hope you’ll watch FOX 43 and WVEC 13…and come to the show on Friday night!

WHAT A WEEK!

Friday, May 14th, 2010

We are nearing the end of our Spring 2010 tour with only one show remaining at the Ferguson Center in Newport News, VA.  I am excited about the performance – it’s a beautiful theatre – and we rarely get to do a show in Virginia.  I’ll be appearing on Fox 43 Thursday morning on THE HR SHOW and, then, head over to WVEC to make an appearance on 13 News at Noon.  And I wrapped up an interview with one of the reporters at the DAILY PRESS.  I think that article will run the day of the show.

It’s been a very productive week:

I think I’ve completed all the final details for our trip to Italy.  We leave just a couple of days after the show in Newport News.  I’m looking forward to spending some time with Cindy in one of the most romantic countries in the world.  And it’s going to be a very special trip because my parents are also going with us!

We have assembled the box of goodies to be sent to the New Future for Children orphanage in Cambodia.  I’ll be working there in late June, bringing the gift of magic to some great kids.  I’m making this trip with one of my very best friends – Mike.  We are going to be hiking in Vietnam and traveling the Mekong Delta bringing a little magic into the river villages.  Next we’re off to Siem Reap, Cambodia to explore the ruins of Angkor Wat and to work with the orphanage in Phnom Penh.  And our last stop is Chiang Mai, Thailand where we’ll connect with another orphanage.

This week I had an amazing meeting with Dr. Deanna Keith from Liberty University’s School of Education.  I’ve been struggling with how to pull together the last few items in the HOCUS FOCUS curriculum.  This meeting gave me a lot of clarity.  I’ve decided to move this toward a more functional curriculum concentrating on Metacognitive and Self-Systems for children with learning differences.  And I’m going to bring a special emphasis to the project for those individuals who are on the autism spectrum, more specifically Asberger’s Syndrome.

I think we have all the materials together for the first Magic Camp of the summer – Longview, TX June 6-12.  Looks like we have two nice groups coming together for that week so it should be fun.

Keith got the schedule updated on the website – but it won’t “launch” dates until June 1 – so check back then to see where we are heading next season!

And, finally, I’ve got the rough draft done of my presentation for the EMBRACING INCLUSIVE APPROACHES conference for special education professionals in Riga, Latvia in July.  I say the first draft because -wow – it need some tweaking for sure!

It’s already 8am in Virginia – time for me to get to work!

IT’S MONDAY

Monday, May 10th, 2010

My day started early but, wow, I feel like I actually accomplished a few things today.  We are home this entire week and I have a To Do List that’s full. If you’ve checked out the Tour Schedule, you’ll see a few dates for the summer up there but we will officially announce the tour on June 1.  Keith has been working hard to get that ready.  I’m excited about next season – lots of great venues and I’ll be conducting a number of workshops for teachers and therapists too.

I’ve reserved most of my time this week to working on HOCUS FOCUS.  I have the rough draft of my Riga presentation together – just a little tweaking and the addition of some video clips and I think I’m done.  I have a meeting on Tuesday with the coordinator of the Special Education program at the School of Education/Liberty University.  We’ll be talking about the possibilities of having some Seniors conduct some further research on the effectiveness of integrating magic tricks into an integrated classroom environment.

I’ve also been getting lots of email from magicians and occupational therapists in Australia.  In April, David Copperfield did a presentation on the therapeutic use of magic in rehabilitation while he was in Sydney.  David has always been generous with his time when it comes to this project.  And he has been a big supporter of the way we’ve developed this concept of “magic therapy.”  I’m exploring the possibilities of putting together a “teaching tour” in Australia for the end of this year.

And last, but certainly not least, work has begun on two new illusions that we are incorporating into the show next season.  I’m incredibly enthused about them and know they will be a great addition to what we are currently bringing to the stage!  I’ll keep you posted!

LIFE AT HOME

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Sometimes I forget just how great it is to be at home.  The Virginia weather is beautiful right now – not too hot, not too cold.  And there are still tons of flowers blooming and everything is so green.  It’s peaceful – and that quiet reaches inside me and calms my mind.  We all need that at times.

I spent most of Wednesday morning just cleaning my office, trying to get my desk organized and my tasks listed in order of priority.  And then Wednesday afternoon, Cindy and I went flower shopping.  We found some beautiful potted flowers to put around the house.  And she got the hummingbird feeders up too.  Today, the little birds were flying around the deck.  Cindy loves to watch those tiny little creatures!

I had great conversations today with two of our illusion creators.  They have some good ideas for the show.  And I’m hopeful we can start working on several of them in the next few weeks.  Right now, I’m trying to stay focused on getting my presentation written for Latvia in July.  I don’t want to wait until the last minute to get that done!  And our second Magic Camp is right around the corner too – June 7-11 in Longview, TX.  Just a couple of details to take care of there and Alan and I will be ready to go.

I think we’ve fairly well knocked out the 2010/2011 tour too.  Keith is going to start working on getting those dates on the website Tour Schedule this week.  And then, later this summer, we’ll get them posted on the Facebook page.  So, we should be announcing those performances very soon. It’s going to be an exciting year next year.  But, for now, I’m going to just enjoy the quiet of the moment.

INSPIRATION VERSUS ORIGINALITY

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

This is always a tough time of the year for me.  We’ve been touring for about 9 – 10 months, zig-zagging across the country and I’m tired.  I’m not complaining about it at all.  This is the life we’ve chosen and we greatly appreciate the privilege of being able to do what we do.  I love traveling and working with my wife.  I love the great team we have with us on the road.  I love performing, being on that stage, and sharing my passion for the art of magic with anyone who buys a ticket.  But after 9 months or so, it is much easier to become frustrated, disillusioned, and less tolerant of the action of some people.

I want to clarify that we meet MANY magicians while on the road and MOST of them are great, about 99.9% of them.  We very much appreciate the support they show us when they come to our show in their towns and cities.  And I enjoy meeting many of them after the show but, now and then, you hear about a situation that just makes you cringe a little bit.

Recently, while performing in Central New York, I met an aspiring magician after the show.  I don’t know him but he seems like a genuinely nice guy who wants to do the right thing.  So, after the show, he asked me about a particular illusion that we performed and wondered if it was our “original” presentation or one that “came with the trick.”  I told him that it was “ours” – many hours of hard work, creativity, tweaking, staging, lighting, scripting, etc. had gone into making this 4-minute bit funny, charming, and magical.  He had recently purchased the illusion from another magician who included OUR presentation as “the routine” that goes with it.  We’ve been performing this illusion for several years – as a matter of fact, ours was the third one ever built – and it’s an audience favorite in our show.  It is one of the routines that makes us original in a field that is “rife with imitation.”  So, to hear that our original routine was being “sold” as the way to perform this illusion without our knowledge or consent was a little maddening.  And this isn’t the first time we’ve encountered that kind of situation.

But the bigger question is, “What ever happened to originality?”  If you look at the most famous magicians in history, each of them was unique in their style and presentations.  Henning, Copperfield, and Penn & Teller aren’t anything alike – in any way, shape, or form.  And, yet, they are all highly successful magicians.

Cindy and I have a very defined philosophy behind what we do on the stage.  Some of that is because we are both “thinkers” – examining the details and reason for every trick, every movement, every lighting cue, every song.  But we also had some wonderful teachers – people who helped us along the way, gave us great advice, and pointed us in a good direction.  These people helped us develop our dream into the show we have now.  Today, that means we are careful about the illusions we choose and how we present them, making sure they fit within our persona and stage abilities. And each one of them represent hours and hours of preparation and rehearsal and the creative input of lots of people, including great direction from Joanie Spina and great scripting from Jim Steinmeyer.  So, when we see them show up in someone else’s show, it drives me a little crazy.  A friend of mine recently watched a “professional illusionist” perform at a theatre near Virginia Beach.  At least 75% of his material was lifted – almost word for word – from past Copperfield performances.  What’s that all about?  Is this guy so untalented and boring that he can’t even come up with a simple routine from his own life experiences?  I’m not saying he has to completely recreate the illusion.  However, his patter should (at the very least) be something unique.  But what’s even worse is that he is profiting off the hard work of OTHERS – he has nothing invested in the performance at all.  He’s cheating his audience and disrespecting the art.

I find some consolation in knowing that this kind of behavior is not unique to magicians.  Comedian Patton Oswalt just blogged about this same problem.  You should take a moment to check it out.  It is quite revealing about some of the lack of integrity in the entertainment industry.

So, as we move into the summer, we’ll be spending a great deal of the next several weeks redesigning our promotional materials and working on new illusions to put into the show next season.  You have to stay one step ahead or “originality” can disappear overnight.

PALACE THEATRE – ALBANY, NY

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

It’s never easy to get up early in the morning but when it’s the last show of the tour, you have a bit more spring in your step.  We performed today at the stunning Palace Theatre in downtown Albany, NY.  This is quite the theatre!  It is simple spectacular and a jewel in the city of Albany.

We were met at the loading dock by the local IATSE 14.  I was so impressed by this crew.  They had everything ready for us when we arrived – lights were hung, pipes were clear, stage was clear, and all softs good were right where they were supposed to be.  It was as if they had actually read the technical rider!  And the rest of the day went so smoothly we were easily 90 minutes ahead of schedule for most of the day – thanks to these guys.

Chris Gould, the executive director, was also there to meet up bright and early.  WOW, I was impressed!  He stayed with us throughout the day, making himself available for whatever we needed.  The hospitality was greatly appreciated – everyone made our day very special.  The inside of the theatre was beautiful as well.  These pictures just don’t do it justice.

Around 1pm lunch was served – fresh veggies, salad, potatoes, and some amazing BBQ chicken!  We were actually able to sit down, relax, and enjoy the food because set up had gone so well.

We all went our separate ways to start getting ready for the 3pm show.  Doors to the venue would open at 2pm and the doors into the theatre at 2:30pm.  I very pleased when hundreds of people starting making their way down the aisles and into their seats.  It was a great mix of families, young adults, kids, and senior citizens.  They were very responsive to all that we presented on the stage, gave us great feedback throughout the show, and provided us with some memorable volunteers.

Thank you Albany for a great experience in your city and at the Palace Theatre…and thank you Chris and IASTE 14 for making us feel right at home!

UTICA, NY

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

We arrived in Utica, NY on Thursday night and checked into our hotel – a beautiful, historic hotel in the downtown area.  Friday morning, we arrived at the theatre around 10:45am for an 11am load in.  Michael and the crew were waiting at the loading dock and, once Cindy figured out where it all was going to go, we were ready to bring it all in.

Ticket sales had been strong and we were nearly sold out that morning.  By show time, we were certain we would be completely sold out.  The crew at the MVCC Theatre is great – made for an easy day with little stress.  Everything moved along at a nice pace and the stage started to “look” like our show by 4pm.

Doors opened at 7:30pm and an enthusiastic crowd made their way into the theatre.  There was so much excitement in the house you could hear it backstage.  I knew this would be a fantastic audience – and they were!

This was a wonderful way for us to wrap up the month of April.  Thank you Bill, Mike, crew, and everyone who came to the show!  Now, we’re off to the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY for a Sunday matinee, 3pm.