Archive for November, 2011

THE KURSAAL – SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Our last show in Spain was also in the largest venue – The Kursaal in San Sebastian.  San Sebastian is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Situated where the Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the river come together, it is separated from France by only a bridge.  The Kursaal is located right on the beach – literally.  This is the view out of one of the lobby windows!

We started the day by meeting Pedro with the truck full of our gear.  The crew unloaded while several of us worked on hanging the lights and scenery.  Everything moved along very well and much of the set up was complete before we took the 2pm lunch break.

After lunch, we had a few minutes to relax before the crew returned.  This gave everyone the chance to check their email and send a few.  I captured this picture while all of our guys were busy on their iPhones.

Once the crew returned, we finished the rest of the focus of the lights, checked audio, tweaked the cues, and did microphone checks with Elena and I.  With Elena’s help, Keith also did a rehearsal with Juan on the fly rail.

Doors opened promptly at 6:30pm for the 7pm performance.  The audience came from all around the area, including Southern France.  I was sad that this was the last show in Spain.  Elena and I were now completely in-sync with the dialogue and translation, to the point that we could add a bit of improvisational humor to the mix.  This audience was very playful.  I enjoyed performing here so much.  It was the perfect place to end our time in Spain – a great audience in a beautiful theatre on the ocean and the sea.

After the show, it was sad to say good-bye to Ander and Elena.  After spending so much time with them, we had become fast friends.  I know we will see them again but saying good-bye is never easy.

This morning, I had a very nice meeting with Mr. Serrano and Josune.  I know this is the beginning of a great relationship – personally and professionally – with these two people.  This is us with Josune – next time I’ll get a picture with Mr. Serrano too!

We are already exploring a return visit to Spain in December 2013.  These last 10 days have been amazing in so many ways – an unforgettable experience!

Ander loaded all of our bags into the van and took us to the Bilbao airport.  We boarded our Iberia flight to Barcelona and then on to Milan.  Once we arrived in Milan, Beppe, our driver for the Italy leg of the tour, met us at the airport.  We loaded up the suitcases again and started the 2.5 hour drive to Imperia.

We are checked into a quaint hotel called the MIRAMARE that is situated on the marina of the Mediterranean Sea.  Tomorrow is our first show in Italy at the Teatro Cavour Imperia….I’ll keep you posted!

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Our time in Spain has been simply amazing.  We have worked with some of the most professional people and made many new friends.  It’s hard to believe that we have only one more show before we leave for Italy.  Last night, we were at the beautiful Riojaforum in Logrono.  I had a good press conference here on Tuesday.  This photo is from the Riojaforum’s website after the media blitz.

When I checked the online box office for the Riojaforum, tickets were selling very well – and that always gets me excited!  I cannot thank all the people at Serrano Productions enough for their hard work and commitment to this tour.  They have been fantastic! By showtime, people were flooding into the theatre.  There were so many families and the excitement thoughout the theatre was audible.

The Riojaforum is our furthest venue from Bilbao – about a 1 hour 30 minute drive.  Ander picked us up in the lobby of the hotel around 10am. He has been a lot of fun to be with these last few days.  He has a great sense of humor, is very funny himself.  He is also very professional and has taken great care of us while we have been in Spain.  We arrived at the venue around 11:30am and the Transluminaria truck was waiting at the loading dock.  After moving past security and dropping off our things in the dressing rooms, we met the stage crew…and then started unloading the truck.

We moved as quickly as possible during the set up.  This is a large stage but Alaine had adjusted our light plot to fill the area.  We needed some additional masking on our scenery but, in the end, it all came together very well.  Our entire team kicked into gear immediately with audio (thanks to Keith and Mikel), lights, and props so we could be ready for the first break at 2pm.  I left around 1:30pm to go over to the Bureau of Tourism where they broadcast one of the most important and highly rated radio programs in Spain.  This would be similar to NPR in the states and being a guest on All Things Considered.  We sat around a small table, each with a microphone, and chatted for about 10 minutes.  It was a great opportunity for us to get the word out about the show in San Sebastian on Sunday night.

This is a picture of the street where the studio was located in Logrono…and a bit of the local artwork.  Every city has had it’s unique atmosphere but all of them have been spectacular.

After the interview, Ander escorted me back to the Riojaforum where everyone had taken lunch break.  Cindy and I enjoyed some quiet time and relaxed.  When everyone returned, it was back to work!  Oh, I forgot – this is the poster on the front of the theatre!

Elena, my translator, arrived at the venue at 6pm and, within minutes, Ander informed us that one of the two major television stations in Spain wanted to come to the Riojaforum and do an interview and tape some behind-the-scenes footage for a feature on the national news.  This was another amazing opportunity to promote our final performance in San Sebastian but, on a much larger scale, increase visibility in all of Spain (again, thank you Serrano Productions!).

Showtime – wow, what an audience!  We have had some great audiences but this one was the most responsive we have had during our time here – gasps, laughs, applause, and great volunteers to assist on stage.  When the show was over, there were so many people in the lobby…including some of the area magicians who had come to support the show.  Ander was kind enough to snap these pictures with his iPhone.  He even got a video that I’ll upload later.

After the show was down and packed back into the truck, we started the 90-minute drive back to Bilbao.  Unfortunately, we hit some road construction that sent us on a detour on unfamiliar roads.  Just as we were finding our way with Ander’s GPS, the batteries died.  As we came down one of the local roads, the Civil Guard waved us over…and then they escorted us to the highway entrance!  It was perfecto!  It was an exciting way to end the day…tomorrow, we rest on our day off!

PALACIO DE FESTIVALES – SANTANDER, SPAIN

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Last night we performed on the stage of the beautiful Palacio de Festivales in Santander, Spain.  Ander met our team in the lobby of the hotel at 9:15am and we made the 1-hour drive to Santander where the Transluminaria truck had already been unloaded and our equipment was on the stage, ready for us to set up.  The theatre is position on the water and is a spectacular building – very different for all the other architecture in the city.

The crew at the Palacio was amazing and, of course, Cindy and I have the best crew on the road.  Everyone went right to work and in just 3 hours, the entire show was set up.  The dressing rooms were below the stage but, thankfully, the sign were in English and Spanish.  You have no idea how easy it is for me to get lost in these places!

With lighting focused, scenery in the air, and props assembled, all that remained was the focus of the moving lights, audio levels, and a check of the light cues.  It was time for lunch – and that’s HUGE in Spain!

After the 2pm – 4pm lunch break, everyone was back at the theatre.  We jumped right into the focus of the intelligent lighting and setting the props on stage.  For me, one of the most important elements of the show is the lighting – I really want it to be magical, colorful, and beautiful.

The doors opened promptly at 8pm for the 8:30pm performance.  And I was ecstatic to see such a large crowd of people arriving early to find their seats!  In the end, we had a wonderfully enthusiastic audience with many willing volunteers who would join me on the stage.  Rob did a fantastic job of translating the performance and the audience reactions were very strong.

After the show, I had the chance to meet hundreds of people in the lobby, get a picture taken or autograph a ticket.  Everyday I am thankful that I have the opportunity to perform.  Being on stage is an indescribable experience but meeting people after the show is what I really enjoy.

Thank you to everyone at Serrano Productions, Palacio de Festivales, and the people of Santander who bought tickets to our show!

PRESS CONFERENCE – SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Today was the last of the press conferences for our performances in Spain.  This one was in San Sebastian, another beautiful city in the Basque region of Spain.  And this is also the home of Ander who has been our host for the past several days.  All of us were able to sleep in a bit this morning as we didn’t have to leave the hotel until 10:45am.  Keith and I met Roland in the lobby of the hotel.  Josune was also there and it was great to her again!  Mr. Serrano was also there.  He has been with us every day for each of the press conferences.  I am so impressed with his commitment to these performances because I know he is a very busy man.

The drive to San Sebastian was panoramic.  However, as we entered the city, the views were spectacular!  I couldn’t resist getting a picture taken next to the crashing waves…and there were so many surfers on the water!

We arrived at the Kursaal, the theatre where we will be performing on Sunday night, and immediately entered the room where the media were waiting.  I had the opportunity to do a few photographs with the three area newspapers and then sit down and answer questions with their respective reporters.  We talked about the show, what the audience might expect to see, and then about the Healing of Magic program. I think it all went very well and each of the reporters expressed excitement about the show.

After the press conference, all of us went over to one of the leading radio stations in Spain for a live interview.  Paula, my translator, did an excellent job of keeping up with me and delivering the energy of the show.

The Kursaal is the largest of the venues where we will perform with slightly more than 1800 seats.  It is quite an impressive building that sits on the waters edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

At last glance, it appears tickets have sold well and there is a lot of interest in the show.  I guess we’ll know more on Sunday!

PRESS CONFERENCE – LOGRONO, SPAIN

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Today was the second in a series of press conferences for upcoming shows in Spain.  Ander has been our host for the past two days and has taken great care of us!  Keith, Roland, and I met at breakfast and then made our way to the lobby of the hotel where Ander was waiting and ready to go.

It’s about 138km to Logrono from Bilbao – a beautiful drive into the countryside.  We arrived at the Riojaforum in Logrono, Spain around 10:30am.  This press conference – like the others – was very well attended by the media.  I was excited to see television, newspapers, and radio all there to cover the Friday night performance.  And I’m always excited to see Mr. Serrano there too!  I’ve very much enjoyed working with him and his staff – such friendly, professional, and kind people.

Tickets for the Riojaforum performance have been selling well I think so this will help move us toward a sold out performance (that would be awesome!).  I was introduced to the reporters by the department director of the Division of Tourism for Logrono.  She was very gracious and then turned it over to me (and my translator).

I spoke for a few minutes and then they opened the session up for questions and answers.  Several reporters had very good questions and then they asked if I could demonstrate a trick.  Once again, the “torn & restored newspaper” was the way to get their attention!  When the paper was restored, the Director of Tourism was standing next to me and totally surprised.  She helped me open the paper to show that it was totally in one piece!  It was a great moment for the cameras!

I was excited that several of the reporters asked questions about the “magic therapy” program.  It gave me a chance to talk more about it and share the concepts of what this program is all about.  There’s been a lot of interest in that program here.  I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to come back and include some hospital work in the next tour.

The Riojaforum is a very nice venue – large and modern.  As I mentioned, tickets have been selling well but this will give us that extra boost that we need in the days before the show.  To give you an idea of just how big it is, here’s me standing next to the sign.  Can you see me standing next to the “a” in the sign?

The theatre is just as beautiful outside as it is inside!  Here’s a glimpse of the inside.  The stage is large and will easily accommodate the illusions and scenery in our show.  And there’s not a bad seat in the house – everyone will have a good, intimate view of the stage.

Tomorrow is the last of the press conference in San Sebastian for the Kursaal.  I have to say a HUGE thank you to Roland of GLP in Vienna for putting this all together and to Jose Serrano for being willing to bring some different to venues in Northern Spain.  It has already been an amazing experience!

PRESS CONFERENCE – SANTANDER, SPAIN

Monday, November 21st, 2011

After a great show last night in Bilbao, I had a press conference this morning in Santander.  The next few days are all press conferences for upcoming shows.  Keith, Roland, and I met Ander in the lobby of the hotel to make the 75 minute drive to Palacio de Festivales in Santander.  The contrast between the Teatro Arriaga and Palacio de Festivales is dramatic.  One is historic, the other is modern; one is ornate, the other is contemporary.  Here’s a view of the front of the theatre – the main entrance.

Once inside, we were greeted by the Director of the Palacio de Festivales and several of the other executives.  I also met with Rob, the translator for the press conference and Thursday’s show.  We had a brief meeting and then I was whisked away for a photo session with several of the area newspapers.  This was, perhaps, the most interesting part of the day for me.  Several photographers and a videographer put me in various positions and poses throughout the theatre as though it were more of a “fashion” shoot than a “performance” shoot.  It was fun – and the entire thing was captured on video by the videographer.  After photos, we went up to the second level where the press conference was going to be held.

The media were already in place – cameras, reporters, notepads – all ready to go.  We sat at the table and talked about the upcoming performance. Afterwards, we took questions from the reporters.  And then I performed a trick to introduce them to the magic.  The response was great and I’m hopeful that the coverage tomorrow will be fantastic.

Once the press conference was over, we took a tour of the venue.  It’s 1650 seats, well-designed with a large stage.  The show will look very nice here.

Keith was able to have a meeting with the Technical Director to make sure that everything would be ready to go for us on Thursday.  They talked through the lighting, the positions of the scenery, and the audio needs.  It should make for a smooth day for everyone!

Tomorrow morning, we have another press conference in Logrono for the performance on Friday night at the Riojaforum.

TEATRO ARRIAGA – BILBOA, SPAIN

Monday, November 21st, 2011

This was the night I’ve been waiting for since our arrival in the beautiful city of Bilbao, located in the Basque region of Northern Spain.  Tonight was our first performance at the spectacular Teatro Arriaga.  After months of planning on our part and countless hours of marketing and promotion by Serrano Producciones, we had a SOLD OUT audience for the show!  It was a great way to begin our European tour!

The day started with the arrival of our team at the theatre.  As we pulled into the artist entrance, the Transluminaria truck was just in front of us.  What a welcome sight – they are transporting all of our equipment for the tour!  The truck pulled to the loading area and the crew from the theatre went straight to work unloading all the cases into the freight elevator.  Once it was on stage, the work day began.  We started with lighting, scenery, and the initial stages of setting up sound before taking a lunch break.  Alan and Chase worked on getting the illusions assembled while Jeff worked mostly with me on some lighting things.  Keith was busy getting all his gear set up.  Cindy stayed at the hotel for the morning but Josune would take me to pick her up around noon.

After a fantastic lunch (I can’t even begin to describe how delicious this food), we were back at the theatre wrapping up the details for the 7pm performance.  The crew here is very organized and hard-working.  We have two technical people who will be with us for all the shows in Spain – Miguel (audio) and Elene (lighting).  And I don’t know what I would if it were not for Josune taking such good care of us!

This afternoon, three others arrived who have been instrumental in making these performances possible: Roland (the agent who arranged the tour), Ander (the technical liaison who will be with us for the remainder of the performances in Spain), and Mr. Serrano (without whom none of this would be possible).  It was nice to meet them face-to-face after several Skype conversations and dozens and dozens of email exchanges.  Elena, the translator, arrived around 4pm and we were able to take some time and talk through several portions of the show.  She is such a professional – and great fun!

We had a bit of a push to be ready before the doors were scheduled to open at 6:30pm because I was having some difficulties with my microphone. Keith and Miguel were able to get it all worked out in time.  A few other details to settle and it was time to get started.

I’m going to post a couple of pictures here of the theatre inside – it’s just too beautiful for words.  This is the view from the stage of the seating area.

And this is the view of the ceiling.  Click the picture to watch a brief video.

When the doors opened at 6:30pm, the audience made their way to their seats and were ready for the show promptly at 7pm.  I was excited…and nervous – but mostly excited!  There was nothing more to be done except take the stage and perform.  So, that’s what we did.  And the audience was wonderful!!  We had so many good volunteers throughout the show, lots of laughter, and strong responses to the illusions.  Our interpreter, Elena, was “perfecto” and we hit a rhythm that was very comfortable.

After the show, I had the chance to meet hundreds of people in the lobby.  Photographs, autographs, shaking hands, saying “hello,” listening to their favorite moments.  I can’t think of a better way to start this tour.  THANK YOU BILBAO FOR COMING TO THE SHOW!

Tomorrow, we’re off to Santander for a press conference.  I’ll be posting pictures!

PRESS CONFERENCE – BILBAO, SPAIN

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Our first “full” day in Bilbao was awesome. The weather here is beautiful, averaging around 65 degrees during the day.  I slept in and allowed myself to get into the new time zone so, today, I’m doing great.  I got up and walked to one of the local pastry shops and bought some fresh croissants and coffee for breakfast.  At 11:30am, Keith and I met Josune in the lobby of the hotel.  We had our first press conference of the tour at the Teatro Arriaga – what a spectacular theatre built in the late 1800’s.

Several television and radio stations were there along with the area newspapers.  It was quite the production.  The lobby was all set up with a nice background and cameras faced the “staging area.”  I walked into place with Elena (my translator) and, with an introduction, started to talk about the upcoming performances in Bilbao, Santander, Logrono, and San Sebastian.  I ended with a performance of the torn & restored newspaper, always a sure way to get their attention!

After the joint conference, I was asked to do several one-on-one interviews with three radio stations, one television station, and a newspaper.  This interview will reach into the entire region, including Santander, Logrono, and San Sebastian.  All great coverage for upcoming shows!

Afterwards, Keith met with the technical directors of the theatre to make sure that everything is ready to go for Sunday’s performance.  I also heard from Transluminaria that the equipment has arrived in Madrid, has been picked up, and is enroute to Bilbao.  All very good news!

This afternoon, we were able to stroll around the City Center and explore the area.  Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque region (Northern Spain).  There is much to do in this area and we plan to take as much of it in as possible!

Tomorrow, I have an “exclusive” interview with the area’s largest television news program then Cindy and I hope to explore the Guggenheim Museum…looking forward to another fun day here in Bilbao!

WELCOME TO BILBAO, SPAIN

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

After months of planning, the team met at the Lynchburg airport to begin this adventure in Europe for the next four weeks.  At 2:23pm yesterday, we boarded our US Airways flight to Charlotte.  At 5:25pm, we boarded our Lufthansa flight to Munich and continued on to Bilbao, Spain.  We arrived slightly after noon into this beautiful city in the Basque region of Northern Spain.

It is quite beautiful here – the terrain is mountainous, lush, green, and still rather warm for November.  After collecting our luggage, we were met by our host, Josune, with smiles and kisses.  I have been emailing with her for so long it is great to finally meet her!  She made arrangements to get all of us to the hotel in the Bilbao City Center.  This four-star hotel is very nice and close to everything.  This will be our home for the next 12 days before moving on to Italy.

Once we settled into the hotel, several of us decided to explore the surroundings of the hotel on foot.  The city is installing Christmas decorations and the giant tree is going up in the central square.  There are perhaps hundreds of restaurants, coffee shops, pastry shops, and delis all around us.  Still finding good became a bit of a challenge…until I settled on ham and cheese croissants.  As we walked around town, posters for the show are everywhere!

I have my first press conference tomorrow afternoon at Teatro Arriaga, the theatre where we will have our first show.  The good news is ticket sales have been very strong and the show is almost sold out.  I’ll be posting as often as I can…

HERE WE GO…

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I apologize that I haven’t posted anything in the last few days.  After the freak snow storm, power outages, and the New England adventure, things got a little crazy!  The show at Eagle Hill Cultural Center in Hardwick, MA went fantastically well.  The audience was great and the entire experience made for some great memories.

From Hardwick, we made the 12 hour drive to Lynchburg where we dropped off Cindy, Chase, and Keith.  Alan and I continued the drive to Melbourne, FL.  There we worked with the King Center for the Performing Arts in an extended residency program – workshop for therapists and teachers, activities for the Brevard Achievement Center, and a final performance on the stage of the King Center.  Great experience in Melbourne from start to finish.  And the change in weather from COLD to HOT was welcome…but it did give me a bit of a cold.

After the performance, Alan and I drove on to Miami while the rest of the team flew back to Lynchburg.  In Miami, we dropped off the equipment at Artex to begin the flight to Spain.  Once that drop off was complete, Alan and I drove straight home to Virginia – no stops except for food and fuel.

Today, we all head to the airport around 1pm to catch our flight to Europe.  We will open for several performances in Spain – then Italy – then Turkey.  We’ll be gone for about a month but it’s going to be an exciting adventure.  I hope to be blogging with photos along the way.

Here we go….