Archive for January, 2012

FREED CENTER FOR THE ARTS – ADA, OH

Monday, January 30th, 2012

This was our first visit to the Freed Center for the Arts but the last time we were here was almost 10 years ago!  The shows has changed so much since then (and so have we).  This visit was very different from the last time.

On Friday night and Saturday morning, we made the drive from New Lenox, IL to Lima, OH, got checked into our hotel, and almost immediately met up with one of the teachers from Marimor School.  This is a special school for students on the Autism spectrum and those with developmental disabilities.  I conducted a 2-hour inservice program for about 20 teachers from this school.  On Monday, I worked with the students in the classrooms to demonstrate in practice what we learned in theory.

After the workshop on Saturday, I made my way over to the Freed Center for the Arts where the rest of the guys were.  They had already begun unloading the truck and getting things set up.  We spent the next several hours setting up the show.  Sunday we had two shows – 2pm and 7:30pm. the crew at the Freed Center was great to work with.  We had fun while also getting everything done that needed to be done.  We left the theatre a little after 7pm to get dinner and some rest for the night.

Sunday morning started around 10am when we returned to the Freed Center to finish up the last of the details before the 2pm performance.  With two shows (2pm and 7:30pm), it was good not to have to be here any earlier than this!  Both shows went really well.  The audiences were great – enthusiastic and energetic!

Today (Monday), I returned to the Marimor School to work with the students.  Alan and Chase were with me so we could give more individual attention to the students.  It was an amazing day.  The kids were totally awesome learning and performing their magic tricks.  The teachers and aids were amazed at the way the tricks improved their attention to talk, motor skills, and behavior issues.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE AT THE FREED CENTER, MARIMOR SCHOOL, and the towns of ADA AND LIMA FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!!

ETSU – AN EVENING OF HEALTH, WELLNESS, & THE ARTS

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

I got to spend a couple of days at my house in Virginia before we were on the road again.  Our trip show would be in Illinois but I also had a speaking engagement at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.  This would be the first time that I would be separated from the rest of my team. I caught a flight to Knoxville while the rest of the gang (including Cindy) moved the show from Virginia to Illinois.

I arrived in Knoxville in the early afternoon and was greeted by Anita, my contact (and friend) at ETSU, at the airpot.  When she invited me to be a part of this unique event almost a year ago, I was excited by the opportunity!  I would be a part of “An Evening of Health, Wellness, & the Arts.”  This allowed me to be creative in a new way – to combine a magical performance with a medical presentation!

The audience for the presentation was fantastic.  They responded well to the magic but they were even more attentive to the idea that the arts can be a powerful force in healthcare and education.  It was an amazing evening – and one I will never forget!

PEABODY AUDITORIUM – DAYTONA BEACH, FL

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

This marked our first performance at Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, FL.  It also closed our Florida tour for 2012.  And it was a GREAT way to end the tour!  Everyone at the Peabody made our time there easy and fun.  Load in, set up, and tech rehearsal were all ahead of schedule. But it was the audience that made the evening perfect.  We had a large enthusiastic crowd of all ages ready to have a good time.  Volunteers were excited to be on stage and their energy really moved the show along.  In the lobby afterwards, I had the chance to meet literally hundreds of people.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect tour!

Earlier in the week, Kevin Poor and Jill Jaquet had mad arrangements for me to visit a very special school in Daytona Beach.  The Monarch Academy is a center that targets children on the autism spectrum.  I was able to meet with the teachers in the morning and then work with the students.  I love these kids and, more importantly, I’m thrilled that the people at Peabody Auditorium are so willing to explore things in the community that can have a big impact!

THANKS TO EVERYONE AT PEABODY FOR A GREAT TIME IN DAYTONA BEACH!

THE FLORIDA THEATRE – JACKSONVILLE, FL

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

I’m not exactly sure how many times we’ve performed at the Florida Theatre but it’s always a fun gig for us.  We arrived into town on Tuesday night, even though the show wasn’t until Friday.  Wednesday morning started very early.  Kendall (from the Florida Theatre)  picked Chase and I up at 4am – yup, that’s early!  We met up with Tracy Conley from ActionNewsJacksonville at the Alden Road Exceptional School.  Starting at 5:30am, we did our first hit of the morning.  We did several more interviews throughout the morning…made the noon news…and then again at 5pm.  Thank you Tracy for all that great exposure for the Hocus Focus project and the show at the Florida Theatre!

Starting at 8am on Wednesday morning, I conducted two professional development workshops for teachers at Alden Road Exceptional School.  This is an amazing school for students who have profound developmental disabilities ranging from physical dysfunctions to autism.  The teachers here are incredibly special.  This is a job they do because they want to impact these kids lives – not for the money.

After working with the teachers on Wednesday, I had the chance to let them see in practice what they learned in theory.  On Thursday, Alan, Chase and I spent the day teaching magic tricks to students with exceptionalities – physical and mental challenges that would dampen the spirit of most of us. Yet, somehow, these kids were filled with life and laugher that was only magnified with the mastery of each trick.  This is always one of the most inspiring experiences I can have.  Watching these kids learn magic tricks and then perform them for their peers is awesome.  At the end of the day, they presented me with this giant “thank you card” that they made and signed.

After two amazing days at Alden Road Exceptional School, it was time for the show at the Florida Theatre.  Performing here is like coming home. Erik, Kendall, Katie, Saul (and the IATSE 115 crew), Danny, Lisa, and the entire team at the theatre take such great care of us.  Today was no different.  The show went up quickly, thanks to a great crew.  My guys did a great job as well – allowing me to go to my dressing room and get some work done for most of the afternoon.

Doors opened at 7pm for the 7:30pm show…and we held the show until 7:40pm because of the huge walk-up ticket line!   The audience tonight was fantastic – definitely the best audience we’ve ever had at the Florida Theatre.  There were families, kids, adults, seniors, and tons of 20-somethings all there to experience the magic.  The energy was great – cheers, applause, and enthusiasm for each of the illusions.  The volunteers used in the show were wonderful (including Tracy from FOX30 who ended up in the Spikes of Doom).  After the show, I had the chance to meet hundreds of people in the lobby and hear their favorite moment.  It was the perfect day!

THANK YOU JACKSONVILLE FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT – AND THANK YOU FLORIDA THEATRE FOR A GREAT TIME!!

RUTH ECKERD HALL – CLEARWATER, FL

Friday, January 20th, 2012

We started our 2012 tour with a performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida.  We have performed here several times in the past but this year was different for a couple of reasons.  First, the audience was very different this time.  Our Sunday matinee audience was a great mix of seniors, families, and young adults.  The packed house of more than 1800 people generated great energy and enthusiasm – and the diversity of the crowd was amazing.  I loved performing for this audience!

Second, I also had the chance to visit with my best friend in college, Danny Hodges.  He is the pastor of the Calvary Chapel in St. Petersburg.  He and his family were our guests at the show.  And we had the chance to visit Wendy and Danny the night before and after the show on Sunday.

Lastly, the day after the show was phenomenal!  Sharon and Kevin had arranged for me to spend some time with the therapists at two campuses of All Children’s Hospital.  I was able to share with them the concepts of “magic therapy” and how they can integrate simple magic tricks into the therapeutic toolbox.  Check out these pictures from the workshop and the magic show for the kids! It was the perfect ending to a great weekend at Ruth Eckerd Hall!

NEW YORK CITY

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

I’ve just spent a few days in New York City, one of the most amazing places in the world.  There is an energy that’s difficult to explain if you’ve never experienced it first-hand.  I had great meetings, visited with friends, and saw some interesting performances.  I’m sitting in the Charlotte, NC airport now waiting for my connecting flight home.  I’ll have two days there before we start the 2012 tour.  First stop is Florida – and we’ll spend most of the month of January there.  If you want to check out the show, the tour schedule is on the website.

While walking through Rockefeller Plaza, I happened to come across a press conference Mayor Bloomberg was doing.  As it happens, he’s also a big magic fan.  I had the chance to shake his hand and chat with him for almost 10 minutes about his favorite books on improving your memory.

He asked me to recommend a good book on magic – not about secrets but about the art of magic.  I told him he should get Jim Steinmeyer’s book HIDING THE ELEPHANT.  Excellent book Mr. Mayor!

2011 IN REVIEW

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

It’s hard for me to believe that 2011 is over.  It seems the older I get, the faster time goes.  It was a phenomenal year for us.  Cindy and I celebrated another wedding anniversary…and she’s still the best thing that ever happened to me.  I can’t imagine my life without her.

Our lives on the road took us coast to coast in the Spring of 2011 – from Florida to California – to perform in some amazing theaters, beautiful places, for amazing audiences.  We are very thankful that we have a job where we can work together.

Cindy and I had a great time with my parents this summer as we made the trip to Canton, TX for TRADE DAYS.  This is a HUGE outdoor market that sells just about anything and everything you can think of.  It took us three full days to make our way through it all (and I’m still not sure we made it all the way through).  In any event, it was fun and a great way to relax after the spring tour.

2011 also brought with it several international trips, mostly to share the data from several Hocus Focus research projects.

NORWAY – In May, I presented a paper on Hocus Focus at the International Society for Teacher Education.  Alan and I explored Kristiansand but the real adventure was getting there!  The 9-hour direct flight had some “mechanical problems” that turned into a 30-hour adventure through Belarus, Poland, Switzerland, Finland, and (finally) Norway.

PERU – In June, I went hiking with one of my best friends in all the world (Mike).  We slept in the Amazon, hiked Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu on the 100th anniversary of its discovery, flew over the Nazca Lines in the Peruvian desert, and hang glided off the cliffs of Lima.

AFRICA – In July, I was invited to present a paper on the Hocus Focus project at the International Association of Special Education Conference in Namibia.  Alan and I were off again and made some time to check out Ethosha National Park while we were in Namibia.

Fall tour started early this season.  We were on the road for most of September, October, and early November.  We had only a few days to get home, repack, and hit the road again – this time to Europe for several performances.  This was a phenomenal way to end the tour season.

SPAIN – We had the great privilege of performing in some of the most prestigious theatres in Northern Spain.  More importantly, we had the honor of working with some great people, making new friends, and being the recipients of the most gracious hospitality we’ve ever experienced.  Everything about Spain was simply incredible!

ITALY - From Spain, we travelled to Italy for two performances with Live Nation.  Our first stop was Imperia, a beautiful town on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  After that, we were off to Sassuolo to the Teatro Carani.  And, finally, we managed to squeeze in a couple of days of relaxation in Verona, Italy (what an experience).

TURKEY – We left Italy for Istanbul.  Once again, we found ourselves greeted by graciousness.  The entire team at TIM Show Center made us feel totally at home in Turkey.  Istanbul is a spectacular city, but it is the people who make it so welcoming.

We arrived back in the USA in time for the Christmas holidays.  We were able to spend time with Jay and Freda and their extended family.  Mostly, we just rested and tried to get our bodies back into the time zone.

Happy New Year everyone – I hope 2012 brings you health, happiness, and all good things.