Archive for October, 2010

LANDER UNIVERSITY (SC) & VERY SPECIAL ARTS (NC)

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

We drove from Paducah, KY to Greenwood, SC.  We arrived on Sunday night and the day started early on Monday morning with a workshop for healthcare workers/students on the campus of Lander University.  The day continued with an afternoon workshop for pre-service special education teachers.

The next morning, we loaded the show into the Performing Arts Center to prepare for a nearly sold out performance that evening.  There was a lot of excitement in the community about the show thanks to the good work of the Greenwood team and Alan (in my office).

The doors opened at 6:30pm and the enthusiastic crowd starting rolling in to find their seats.  It was a rush!  A very nice mix of families and senior citizens and a HUGE turn out of 18-30 students filled the theatre.  There was no problem getting volunteers to help out on stage either.

Thanks to Myra, Jackie, Jeff (and his gang), and Eddie (and his crew) for a great time in Greenwood, SC!

From Greenwood, we made our way to Pembroke, NC.  I was very excited about this event because we were the kick off to the Very Special Arts Festival in this region of North Carolina.  The event was being held on the campus of the University of North Carolina in the Givens Center for the Arts.

We loaded in the day before the performance for good reason.  The kick off event would start at 9am on Thursday morning and we would start performing around 9:30am!  It just worked best for us to get all set up the day before so we wouldn’t be there at the 3am to load in and set up.  The crew at the Givens Performing Arts Center moved us in quickly and we were set up and ready to go in about 5 hours.  I was pleased with the way things were looking.

We arrived the next morning at 7:30am to finish up and get ready for the 1100 people coming to the Festival.  No disappointments on this one – the crowd was excellent, responsive, enthusiastic, and fun!

CARSON CENTER – PADUCAH, KY

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Our time at the Carson Four Rivers Center in Paducah, KY will be one of our best memories.  I really feel like I am a part of this community after being here these last few days.  Mary and Brian put together a great residency – two workshops in the schools, participation in the kick off of the United Way’s READING IS MAGICAL program, a workshop for therapists at an area rehabilitation center, a teacher workshop for some pre-service teachers from Murray State University, and the final performance at the Carson Center.  It was a fantastic three days.

The performance last night was such great fun – what an audience!  The stage is beautiful and there’s simply not a bad seat anywhere in the theatre.  Cindy snapped this picture while we were setting up the stage.

Doors opened at 6:30pm for the 7pm performance.  The crowd had already started gathering much earlier so when the doors did open, people came streaming in to find their seats.  As we moved closer to showtime, you  could feel the energy and excitement build in the 800+ crowd.  When we finally did hit the stage, they were ready for us!

Afterwards, I had the great opportunity to meet and talk with hundreds of people from the audience in the spectacular lobby of the Carson Center. The comments and conversations were encouraging as many people talked about the work we had done the previous days in the workshops and schools.

Thank you Mary, Brian, Joe, Bobby, Mike, and Jennifer for making our time on your stage so much fun!  And thank you Paducah for being so supportive!!

PADUCAH, KY – DAY ONE UPDATE

Friday, October 15th, 2010

We had a FANTASTIC time working in the Paducah community today!  The morning was spent at McNabb Elementary School kicking off a United Way reading project.  This is a partnership between various members of the community who mentor a second grader by spending one hour each week reading together.  The theme is READING IS MAGICAL – so I was there to help kick off the event (along with the assistance of Alan and Chase).

After a memorable morning, we made our way to the NBC affiliate, WPSD Channel 6 for an interview on MIDDAY NEWS at 12noon.  I had a great time with Johnette and Beth on air.  We talked about the upcoming performance at the Carson Center on Friday night, discussed our time at McNabb Elementary and what we would be doing at the Superior Care Center in the afternoon…and then, yes, I taught the hosts a couple of magic tricks. They did a great job learning and performing!

After the interview, we made our way to the grand opening of a new McDonalds in Paducah.  We placed our orders and enjoy the atmosphere of the McCafe dining experience.  I was supposed to have a 1pm interview with Adam at the PADUCAH SUN.  I called at the appointed time but he was nowhere to be found.  Alan called several times to reschedule the interview but we never heard back from Adam.  We hope he’s okay….

With a full stomach, we drove over to the Superior Care Center.  I conducted a workshop with several of the therapists – physical, occupational, and speech.  It was a very good time of learning for all of us.  Once we mastered a few selected tricks and discussed their therapeutic value, we moved down to the main area where we could work with a few of the residents.  There was a lot of laughter and smiles as the clients learned and performed a few tricks for each other.

Tomorrow, I still have a HOCUS FOCUS workshop with some pre-service teachers from Murray State University in the afternoon.  And then, the big show at 7pm at the Carson Center.

PADUCAH, KY – DAY ONE

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

We arrived in Paducah, KY on Tuesday night for a full week of activities.  Mary (from the Carson Four Rivers Center) has worked very hard to arrange for some outreach programs with Healing of Magic and Hocus Focus.  There was a small wrench thrown into the mix when Senatorial candidate Rand Paul was invited to speak to the local Chamber of Commerce.  That turned into a media event which shifted our schedule a bit (thank you Secret Service).  The Carson Four Rivers Center is a beautiful theatre!

It was decided that we would load in on Wednesday morning, bright and early.  This would allow us time to set up the show, spike the illusions, focus the lights, get our scenery in the air, etc.  As long as we were done by 3pm, that would allow the Secret Service to “sweep” the building and the media to get their cameras set up for the Thursday morning event.  So, with an 8am arrival at the loading dock, a great crew under the direction of Joe Searcy, we started our day.

Alan and I left the Carson Center around 1pm to head over to the High School for a Hocus Focus workshop with a selected group of “struggling” students.  This turned into a fun and exciting event with these students and a great afternoon.

Today is also a full day.  We start at 10:30am at the McNabb Elementary School working with a small group of students (Hocus Focus) and stressing the “magic of reading.”  After that session, we head over to the local NBC affiliate for an interview on the 12Noon News followed by a 1pm interview with the PADUCAH SUN newspaper.  I’m sure we’ll grab a quick lunch somewhere along the way before our 2pm session with area therapists (Healing of Magic).

BLOOMINGTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

We rolled into the loading dock right on time to begin our day at the Bloomington Center for the Arts (Illinois).  This is an incredible theatre built in 1921 but newly renovated just a few years ago with an investment of more than $15 million from the community.  It is a great theatre and retains the 1921 charm of the original decor.  I think they must know that most artists are “directionally challenged” so this is the first thing you see as you enter the stage door.

The crew here was ready for us when we arrived, load in went smoothly, and we were into our day of set up.  It was tough being inside for the day because the weather in Illinois right now is beautiful – 86 degrees, sunny, and a mild breeze.  How can you beat that in October?  Regardless, we stayed the course and got the show up and ready to go just in time for dinner.

I did have the chance to run outside mid-afternoon to click a couple of pictures of the front of the building – including the marquee and one of the large posters.

During the afternoon, we also had a couple of friends from Chicago stop in and spend some time – Steve Chezeday and Carol Hendrix.  It was great to see them and we even had a chance to hang out after the show at the local Steak-n-Shake.

Doors opened at 7pm and a nice crowd of people started to make their way to their seats.  I love audiences like this – all ages, from kids to college students to parents to senior citizens.  And they were a great audience too!  We had some lively volunteers on the stage who moved the show along and made it a lot of fun.

After the show, I made my way to the lobby to meet some of the members of the audience as they left the theatre.  This is one of my favorite times of the day!  I also had the chance to meet a family prior to the shows.  Art Petzel (also from the Chicago area) made the drive to Bloomington with his parents, siblings, and grandparents.  It was nice to meet them all.

Bloomington was a great experience for all of us.  Spending some time in the community working in the schools and with some of the adult day care clients set the tone for what was going to be an exceptional time.  The show was the icing on the cake!  Thank you Bloomington for all your support!

BLOOMINGTON, IL – DAY OF FUN!

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I was up early this morning (along with Alan and Chase) to head over to do a 7:30am radio interview on WBMQ.  I had a great time with Susan on the air and we pulled off three or four segments.  After wrapping up that interview, Joel was able to get me into another station to do an recorded interview that will air throughout the day on the local news.

After radio, we drove through downtown Bloomington to stop at one of the local coffee joints.  This cafe was charming and quaint – and the coffee was delicious (as were the blackberry scones).  Next stop, Bloomington Junior High School where we worked with groups of 7th and 8th graders with the Hocus Focus project.  I so love working with these kids!  It is inspiring to see them come to life with a magic trick, stand up in front of their peers and perform, and relish the applause.

By the time we wrapped up at the Junior High, we were all ready for some lunch.  By this time, we were existing on caffeine!   Lunch at one of the local grilles was awesome (I had the BTL).  Our afternoon was spent at the Bromenn Adult Day Care Services with an amazing group of senior citizens.  Through the Healing of Magic program, they were able to learn a few tricks and meet their occupational and physical therapy objectives all at the same time.

We made it back to the hotel just in time to do a quick interview with one of the Paducah-area newspapers for our show next weekend.  I love being busy!

ON THE ROAD…

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Tomorrow we hit the road again for the month of October.  We’ve got some exciting performances ahead of us starting with the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts in Bloomington, IL on Saturday night, October 9 at 7:30pm.  I spent most of the day on Monday doing a few interviews for this performance – newspaper and radio.  We’ll get into town on Thursday night so I can spend Friday doing a few activities around the area with the HOCUS FOCUS project.

From Bloomington, IL we head Paducah, KY for an extended stay.  First, I’ll be spending time at the High School working with teachers and students. The following day, I have a “magical reading day” with the elementary students at one of the schools followed by a Healing of Magic workshop with area therapists and some of their clients.  The performance will be held at the Carson Center Four Rivers Center for the Arts on Friday, October 15, at 7:00pm.

There still way too much to do before we pull out in the morning so I’m off to work.