Archive for March, 2011

BACK ON THE ROAD – WEST COAST

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Sorry I’ve been out of touch for a while.  We wrapped up our last show in Crowley, Louisiana at the Grand Opera House of the South.  We had a fantastic, sold out audience – the perfect way to end that leg of the tour.  We drove to Houston the following morning, parked the truck, and everyone flew home to Virginia for almost two weeks.  It was great being home but it goes so quickly when there is so much to do!

Alan and I flew back to Houston on Sunday to drive the truck to California – across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and up the California coast to Carmel.  A “winter storm” moved into Virginia over night causing our regional airport to cancel all the flights.  Thankfully, a US Air employee who knew we were on the flight made arrangements for us to get to Roanoke, fly to Philadelphia, and connect with a flight to Houston.  We arrived about 7 hours later than expected which means we also lost a day of driving.

We hit the ground running when we landed in Houston and drove to Seguin, TX to spend the night.  Next morning we were up early and put another 700 miles behind us from Seguin, TX to Deming, NM.  We left Deming this morning and have finally crossed the California border to spend the night in Indio, CA.  Tomorrow is our last day of driving and we’ll make Carmel by 4pm (hopefully).

We’ve got a great run of shows here on the West Coast.  I’ll definitely be blogging along the way.

THE LUTCHER THEATRE – ORANGE, TX

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

We are still getting some great feedback from the workshop we had in Broken Arrow, OK.  A feature article was in BROKEN ARROW LEDGER and featured on the Healing Thresholds website – a site that provides current information on autism therapies for parents, therapists, teachers, and physicians.

We left Ft. Worth and the people at Bass Performance Hall with great memories and prospects of a return engagement.  We made our way toward Orange, TX and the Lutcher Theatre.  This would be our first time working with Jim and Lynae, tickets were selling well for the show, and they had arranged for some activities with some very special kids.

Thursday started off with a bang with a 6am television appearance on ABC 12′s GOOD MORNING SOUTHEAST TEXAS.  Molly, the reporter, was fun and excited. We had two live segments and then taped a segment for the noon news.

After the morning show, I went back to the hotel to catch up on some computer work.  Around 9:45am, Lynae picked up Alan and I and we were off to Lake Charles, LA (only about 30 miles away) for a radio interview with Gary Shannon on 92.9 THE LAKE, one of the more popular stations in the area.  Once we wrapped here, we were on our way over to KPLC-TV for an appearance on the Noon News.

After lunch, we met up with Gary and one of his co-workers for lunch at a very quaint restaurant in downtown Lake Charles.  The food was good but the company and conversation were great.  It was nice to sit and relax, share stories, and get acquainted.

The highlight of the afternoon was our visit to the Hughen Center.  This is a place filled with dedicated professionals and volunteers who love these kids.  The majority of the residents have been placed there by Protective Services because the kids were not being care for properly or were being abused.  We performed a little magic and then spent time teaching them some tricks.

Many of them came up and performed their magic for the rest of the group.  Once we finished the teaching segments, everyone came back into the main room and we did a quick little 15 minute show for them.  What a fantastic audience!!

After packing up our stuff, Lynae drove us back to Orange and dropped us off at the hotel.  While loading our stuff back into the trailer, we posed for a quick picture with the rig.

Around 4:45pm, she picked me up for one last television appearance on the LIVE AT FIVE evening news.  This was done live from the stage of the Lutcher Theatre!  Once done, it was back to the hotel for dinner and some rest.

LUTCHER THEATRE PERFORMANCE

The next morning, me and the guys made our way over to the Lutcher Theatre.  This is a beautiful venue in downtown Orange.  I had originally expected a restored turn-of-the-century vaudeville house.  That’s definitely NOT the case!  This is a stunningly beautiful, modern performing arts center.

David, the technical director, was ready for us when we arrived.  And the local IATSE 183 was there to get things loaded in and help with the set up.  The day moved along really well and when Cindy arrived around 3:30pm, we were almost done with everything.  We finished up with the last of the details just around dinner time…and they made a homemade meal for us including some southern banana pudding!

With dinner behind us, it was time to focus on the show.  Doors would open in an hour and we were expecting a near-capacity crowd for the performance.  There’s not a bad seat in this house and I was very pleased with the way the show looked on their stage.

The show went really well.  We had some great volunteers from the audience to assist in the illusions and the responses were incredible.  In the end, the honored us with a standing ovation.  Afterwards, in the lobby, I had the chance to talk with hundreds of patrons, hear their favorite moments, and connect with them on a more personal level.

Thank you Lutcher Theatre for a great experience!!

BASS PERFORMANCE HALL – FT. WORTH, TX

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

After the performance at the Coleman Theatre, we made our way to Texas.  Our performance would be held at one of the most beautiful venues we’ve ever seen – Bass Performance Hall.

The theatre is situated in the downtown area of Ft. Worth.  This area has changed a lot in the last few years – great restaurants, nice hotels, and very safe streets to explore.  We were honored to be a part of the Bass Hall season which also includes some of the great touring Broadway productions.  Our show was a part of the inaugural season of the “family series” which also includes the musical “Suessical the Musical!”  The inside of this theatre is as spectacular as the outside.

I’ve worked with Dione Kennedy in the past so I was very excited to be working with her again.  Her entire team at Bass Performance Hall was fantastic.  And the technical crew was brilliant!

On Monday morning, my day started fairly early when Malcolm (from the theatre) picked me up at the hotel around 6am to head over to FOX 4 for an appearance on GOOD DAY.  I had two fun segments with the hosts and joined them at the end of the show for the final wrap up.  One of the segments made it online on their website.

After morning television, we were on the way back to the theatre to start setting up for the day.  When if was finally show time, we had a fun and enthusiastic crowd!  In the end, they gave us a standing ovation – unexpected and greatly appreciated.

The following morning (Tuesday), Dione picked Alan and I up at the hotel.  We were going to spend some time with some great kids at one of the area schools.  All of these students have special needs and learning differences.  We worked in several different classrooms, greeted with laughter and smiles.  The special education consultant for the school sent along this email:

I just wanted to write to thank you again for offering us the opportunity to have Kevin and Alan here.  We have had other good programs in the past, but we have never had anything where the performers were so quickly and deeply engaged with our students.  They were extraordinary in their ability to relate to the students, and were second to none in the enjoyment of them they seemed to have.  We are honored to have met them and to have had them here.  Some of our students are making cards to send to them over the next couple days.

I’m looking forward to seeing those cards!

Next stop, Orange, TX and the Lutcher Theatre!

HISTORIC COLEMAN THEATRE – OK

Friday, March 11th, 2011

After a fantastic week in Broken Arrow, we made the quick drive to Miami, OK for a Saturday night performance at the Historic Coleman Theatre on Route 66.

This is a beautifully restored theatre that’s really more of a museum than it is a performing arts space.  They host several performances during the year but I believe their primary focus is on the restoration of the theatre complex, including the ballroom adjoining the theatre.

The highlight of the evening for me was seeing my little brother, Mark, and his son, Brent.  They drove over from Fayetteville, AR to see the show and spend a little time visiting.  We went out after the show to one of the local establishments – KuKu’s – and talked for quite a while before they needed to start the journey home.

The next morning, we were on the way to Fort Worth, TX….a big thanks to the audience at the Coleman Theatre for being so supportive and that standing ovation!  We had a blast!

BROKEN ARROW, OK

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The week in Broken Arrow, OK was nothing short of phenomenal.  After the show in Lawrence, most of the crew flew back to Virginia.  Alan and I stayed behind to do some work with the Hocus Focus project in Broken Arrow.  We arrive into town on Sunday night and settled in.  On Monday, we had lunch with Larry Payton, owner of Celebrity Attractions, and Mark Frie, executive director of the PAC.  This lunch was inspirational – great company and conversation.  Lunch was followed by a Professional Development Workshop for area special educators arranged by the the BPAC and the School District.

The following days, I was in 21 classroomsworking hands-on with the students and their teachers.  After experiencing the Workshops, these classroom opportunities allow educators to see the Hocus Focus project in action.  It is a life-changing experience to watch these kids learn and perform these tricks.  All of the tricks they learn also help them achieve other academic and functional goals.

Following three days in the classrooms, it was time for the “big show” at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center.  Friday morning started off with a television appearance on GOOD DAY TULSA.  Channel 8 sent over Mike, the morning meteorologist, to do weather live from the BPAC stage.  We did a couple of tricks and then Mike let me do the “Magical 8 Day Forecast” where storms were appearing and disappearing all over the state.

Next, it was time to set up the show!  The BPAC is a beautiful building – and the technical team is fantastic!  The day moved along well and everyone had a fun time – great attitudes abounded!  I love those kinds of days!

We ended up with a near capacity crowd to cap off the week – a great audience filled with families, young adults, and seniors.  And they were a very responsive and interactive crowd too.  It was a great way to end an amazing week!  Mark Frie and his team deserve a standing ovation!!

THE LIED CENTER – LAWRENCE, KS

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

We left Fairfield, IA for Lawrence, KS.  It was an easy drive and we had a couple of days to do it so, we stopped in Kansas City and spend two days there.  It was good for me to try and catch up on some work!  I have been focusing so much time on my research paper for the Society for Teacher Education conference in Norway – this was a great opportunity to try and pull it all together.  And it was a great chance for everyone to wash some clothes too!

Karen Christilles and I have been in the planning stages of this residency for almost 18 months.  Anthea, the education director, and I had a meeting in January to firm up some of the details and it all came together incredibly well.  They were able to arrange two inservice training programs for therapists in two different rehabilitation facilities, a workshop for the Boys & Girls Club, and a workshop for the area Autism Support Group.  I received some really heartfelt emails from parents who attended that meeting.

After a very successful time in the Lawrence community (and fairly good weather), it was time for the performance.  Tickets had been selling very well (over 1400 in advance) and everyone was expecting a strong walk up at the box office….and then came the snow storm!  Yes, day of show it started snowing and snowing and snowing until, by 7pm, there was almost 7 inches of snow on the ground.  Roads around the Lied Center were closed by the police department and yet people still drove to see the show – more than 1,000 of them came!  They were a fantastic crowd…and they honored us with a standing ovation.

Thank you Karen, Anthea, Tim, and the entire staff at the Lied Center.  And thank you Lawrence for coming out in the snow and supporting the show!!