Archive for November, 2010

FAITH & THANKSGIVING

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the perfect example of living out my faith.  My life is a trail of wrong decisions and bad judgement calls.  And in a fairly competitive industry like mine, it is easy to lose sight of what should be my highest goal – living a life that reveals my relationship with Christ – for a more appealing goal like fame and personal success.  Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about fame and personal success; however, if I were to achieve them by sacrificing my faith and compromising my beliefs, is it really worth it?

If my faith – my relationship with God – is really important to me, it should impact every part of my life…and that includes my relationships and my business decisions.  That’s not an easy thing to do.  It requires me to really think through the options, consider the consequences of each, and make a decision based on how I believe it will honor Christ, improve my relationship with Cindy, build my friendships, and further my career.

Paul tells the people of Galatia:

“Since this is he kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.”

Too often I see people looking for the shortcut to friendship and success.  They think there is some easy answer, a formula that just “works” and suddenly you have lots of friends, you’re famous and rich.  Even if there were such a formula, how would you feel accomplished if all of it was just handed to you?

I believe God has given all of us certain abilities – intellectual and artistic.  I also believe that things that happen in our lives have for a specific purpose.  My accident many years ago gives me an empathy for people who are struggling with physical rehabilitation.  My desire to see children learn and build confidence strengthens my dedication to use my skills to make learning fun and exciting.  I’m thankful for these opportunities – and for a great wife who supports me in them.

Paul continues by saying:

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

It is my responsibility to be creative with my life without the competitive comparison to what others are doing.  I know who I am, what work I have been given, and I’m trying to do my best to accomplish those goals without becoming proud or arrogant.

I want my wife to know that I love her.  I want my friends to know they are important to me.  And I want to be successful in my business because I want to use my abilities to honor the One who gave them to me…and to make a difference in the world.

WEEKEND IN NEW ENGLAND

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

We have “officially” wrapped the Fall 2010 tour with our final two performances – the Paramount Theatre in Rutland, VT and the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket, RI – this past weekend.

Cindy and I are flying to Arizona on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) to spend the holiday with two of our best friends, Andre and Kathy Kole.  It’s going to be a very relaxing and enjoyable time.

When we return, I’ll be home for just a few days before Alan and I leave for Hong Kong.  I’ll be speaking at the East Asian International Conference on Teacher Education Research on the Hocus Focus project.  I’m really excited about this opportunity and having the privilege to share these concepts with Educators from around the world.  I’ll be blogging from China so stay tuned.

Let’s recap the weekend!

THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE – RUTLAND, VT

What I love about the U.S. is the diversity of the landscape and the people.  There is no place quite like New England – beautiful, quaint, and historic.  And the people are proud, focused, and hard-working…and they really enjoy a magic show!

We pulled into Rutland the night before the performance, checked into our hotel, and found food.  The next morning, we were off to the theatre.

It was a very easy day – Tom, the Tech Director, had everything ready for us.  I mean everything – curtains were hung correctly, light plot was perfect, etc.  It cut our day from 7 hours to about 5 hours of set up.

We had some stiff competition for the evening in this town of 17,000.  This was opening night for the high school production of BYE BYE BIRDIE and the latest installment of the HARRY POTTER movies.  In spite of it all, we had a large, spirited audience who was there to have a good time.

Bruce, the executive director, sent my office an email after the show:  “What a TERRIFIC EVENING for adults and kids alike!!  The illusions are refreshingly clean, crisp, and simple without being simplistic.  Much of the touring, illusion marketplace is cluttered with effects, music, noise, and distracting production gimmicks.  Not The Spencers – very impressive!”

Thank you Bruce, Eric, Tom, the entire team at the Paramount AND the community of Rutland for all your support!

THE STADIUM THEATRE – WOONSOCKET, RI

Immediately after loading out the show, we hit the road from Rutland to Woonsocket.  It’s about a 3.5 hour drive so we would take advantage of the adrenaline rush of the show and get a couple of hours down the road.  We stopped in Chicopee, MA for some sleep and then finished up the trip on Saturday morning.

We arrived at the Stadium Theatre mid-morning.  Dennis – the TD – actually met us at the local Stop-n-Shop and escorted us to the theatre.  Downtown Woonsocket is a series of one-way streets, a tough ride for a 65-foot truck!

We backed into the loading area, talked the crew through the necessary paperwork, and started rolling in the cases.  We took advantage of every inch of space on the stage as well as some in the parking lot!  Cindy never ceases to amaze me how she gets this stuff so organized everyday in a different theatre.

Another easy day working with this crew – I think we’re getting spoiled now.  We had many of the same guys working with us this time as we did in 2006 when we were here last.  That made it great fun, lots of laughing and comraderie among the guys.

Another fantastic audience too!  We had lots of great volunteers during the show and everything came off without a hitch.  It was the perfect way to end our time in New England…and our Fall tour!!

AXELROD PAC – DEAL, NJ

Monday, November 15th, 2010

We left the hotel around 7:40am on Sunday to head to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal, NJ.  I know, we’ve been “touring” New Jersey this fall.  I think this is our 5th performance in the state since October.  But that’s okay, we LOVE coming to New Jersey – great audiences, big reactions, and lots of support.

A portion of the monies raised from this show would help a young lady named Cindy.  She has recently been diagnosed with cancer and needs all the financial support she can get.  As it turns out, the show was sold out and the audience had a great time…and so did we!

Today (Monday), we drove up to Albany, NY.  We made a stop along the way to replace a tire on the trailer.  I’ve got lots of office work and interviews to catch up on so we’re staying put in Albany through Thursday.  You gotta love an office-on-the-road.

INDONESIA

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that Alan and I will be leaving for Hong Kong on December 8.  I’ll be speaking at the East Asian International Conference for Teacher Education Research.  It’s an amazing opportunity.  I had also been invited to teach at the State University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for a few days and was giving that some consideration until….

MOUNT MERAPI ERUPTED!

This very active volcano is only 16km from the University site for the Healing of Magic workshops.  Yogyakarta is now in the “danger area” and all events are cancelled there.   Many charity organizations have set up shelters and treatment areas. Our Healing of Magic representative, Adjie Silarus, pulled together volunteers to work with the children during this traumatic time.

Pray for the people of Indonesia and for those who are there to serve them.

VINELAND, NJ

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

With a record load out at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA, we were on the road for Vineland, NJ before 10pm.  We had a five hour drive ahead of us and an early morning load in rushing at us.  We really needed to make good time.  We drove for almost four of the five hours, stopped in Hightstown, NJ around 2am, and checked into a hotel for a few hours sleep.  We would be back on the road again by 7:00am to finish the drive to Vineland, NJ and the Guaracini Performing Arts Center.  We arrived at the loading dock at 8:30am with a ready and able crew waiting to load us in.

In spite of how tired everyone was, we were all fairly alert!  The day moved along well and the crew here was on top of their technical game.  Tickets were selling very well and, with the exception of a handful, the show was practically sold out. By 3pm, we would be near capacity with an enthusiastic audience.

I have to confess, Sunday Matinee performances scare me a little.  People are having a relaxing day.  They enjoy a large lunch, make their way to the show, and then want to “sit and watch” rather than “actively engage.”  This was not the case with this audience!  Our volunteers were engaged and the audience was very responsive to every trick we performed.  Afterwards, in the lobby, I had the chance to talk to many of them – listen to their favorite moment in the show, sign a few autographs, and take a few pictures.  This “Sunday Matinee” was fantastic!

Now, we head home to Virginia for a few days….

N. ANDOVER & PITTSFIELD, MA

Monday, November 8th, 2010

We got to spend two days at home before climbing back into the rig and heading up to New England.  With performances in North Andover at the Roger Center for the Arts and Pittfield’s Colonial Theatre, we would travel the state of Massachusetts from east to west.

ROGERS CENTER FOR THE ARTS – NORTH ANDOVER, MA

This is our third performance at the Rogers Center working with Peter and Maureen.  We very much enjoy working one this stage with this team and performing for this audience.  There was a terrific article in the local news paper the day before the show.  The box office phone was ringing off the hook and we ended up with a very full house!

The day moved along at a great pace, actually we worked ahead of schedule for the entire day leaving plenty of time to enjoy a good dinner before the doors would open.  We played with the lighting a bit too just to make sure that everything looked a good as it possibly could.

We had a very enthusiastic and energetic crowd for this show.  They were great and meeting so many of them in the lobby afterwards was a highlight for me.  We will look forward to coming back for a fourth appearance at the Rogers Center in the near future!  Thank you Peter and Maureen for a great day!!

Once we were loaded back into the truck and trailer, we started the 3 hour drive to Pittsfield (the other side of the state).  We arrived at our hotel around 1:30am – it was going to be a short night.

THE COLONIAL THEATRE – PITTSFIELD, MA

Our only disappointment on this leg of the trip was that we arrived in Pittsfield around 1:30am and left the following day around 10:00pm.  We spend the day inside the spectacular Colonial Theatre so, while we saw lots of beauty, it was not the beauty of the Berkshires!

The Colonial Theatre is a spectacular 1903 restored theatre.  To say this place is amazing is clearly an understatement!!

We arrived in the morning to find Chrissie, Joe, and the crew ready for load in.  After a few formalities, we unlocked the trailer and started rolling in about 8 tons of equipment.  We were going to be in every corner of the stage once we started setting up.  Thankfully, they also have a large shop just off stage right where we could store some of the larger illusions during the show.

This crew said they were accustomed to “setting records” for load in and load out.  So, we threw out the challenge – we need to be loaded at the end of the day in less that 45 minutes…

The day moved along extremely well.  Everyone was so willing to do whatever needed to be done to make the show flow as easily as possible.  And it did!  The entire day was a fantastic experience – beautiful theatre, hard working crew, and a great team.  I’ve had the privilege of working with Seth (the executive director) at a couple of other venues.  I knew working with him here would be a great experience as well.  He did not disappoint in any way at all.

The audience was large and ready to have a good time.  We had also made arrangements to videotape this performance with a local crew.  I was glad to have a full house, expressive audience members, great lighting, and a top-notch crew for this show!  I can’t wait to see the final product.

…and about that load out, 30 minutes!  An all time new record for us.  We were on the road for New Jersey by 9:30pm….with a five hour drive ahead of us (another short night).

GOLDSBORO, NC & SOMERVILLE, NJ

Monday, November 1st, 2010

PARAMOUNT THEATRE (NC) – Our next show was in Goldsboro, NC.  This was the first time we performed at the Paramount Theatre – a beautifully restored theatre that was destroyed by fire a few years ago.  It’s only been re-opened for three years.  This billboard greeted us as we came into town.

We arrived that morning to a welcoming technical crew.  Load in moved along nicely. Enthusiasm for the evening performance was very high and ticket had been selling strong for the last few weeks.

By noon, the show was SOLD OUT and Sherry was setting up extra chairs in the back and down some of the aisles.  Our show would be their first sold out show in three years – exciting for them and for us!  When the doors opened,  there was a rush of people making their way to their seats.  And from the moment we took the stage, we could feel their support in their laughter and applause.  It was a magical night!

THEATRE AT RVCC (NJ) – This appearance will mark our 5th performance at the Theatre at RVCC.  We love these people and this place!  The audience is always so appreciative and volunteers are never hard to find.  Keith’s parents – Wayne and Sue Barber – also came up for the show.  We had a little bit of time to chat before the show and to say good-bye afterwards.  It’s always great when they are able to come to one of our NJ performances.  And I know Keith enjoys their support and spending time with them too.

Our day at RVCC could not have gone any better.  I worked with the crew for part of the day and then turned things over to Keith.  I went to my dressing room to try and get some work done before the weekend took over.  I’m a bit behind in the “office work” and pulling together our 2012 season.

It was close to show time, doors opened at 6:30pm for the 7pm show.  You could hear the excitement in the murmur of the crowd.  We had great volunteers to help – including a young man (about 21 years old) who had been a volunteer in our show 10 year earlier when he was 11!!

A huge thank you to Alan, Christina, Cindy, John, and the entire team at RVCC.  I’ll look forward to performance #6!

ANDRE KOLE – The next morning, we were up early.  We were on our way home but decided to make a detour to Easton, MD where we could meet up with one of our best friends, Andre Kole.  He and his son (Tim) were performing for the weekend in several locations in Maryland.  We were able to catch their Saturday matinee performance and then spend some time together that evening.  It was a great way to wrap up October.