MERRYMAN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER – NE

HAPPY EASTER! We’ve spent the last three years on the road during this time of the year – twice on the West coast and this year in the Midwest. Easter Sunday is the holiest of holidays for Christian faiths – the day that is celebrated as the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. I hope each of you have the chance to spend this time with those you love and celebrate life.

Last night was our performance at the Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney, NE. It was an enjoyable day for me – and I think for the rest of the team as well. We arrived at the venue right on time. It’s a beautiful space, recently built, and only in their second season of performances. Gail and her team are still in the stage of “audience development” – finding their niche in a community where these types of events were not been previously available. They are doing a great job and we had a very enthusiastic audience for the show.

The day moved at an easy pace. One of the things I enjoy the most about working in the Midwest is the easy-going nature of the people. Dave, Kerri, Wendy, C.J., Angie, and Scott were all there to meet us as the truck rolled into the loading dock. After shifting a few things on the stage, the equipment was in place and set up had begun. We did hit a couple of snags. As we started to hang the drops, Kerry and Dave wondered if their fly tower was going to be high enough for them to clear audience view when taken out. As it turns out, it wasn’t! So, we had to stop hanging everything and revert to plan two – up goes the cloud drop only! It’s a good thing they said something early!!

The intelligent lights were up and patched quickly; hazers were in place; and we were ready to begin focus. On stage lighting focus was easy – front of house was “creative.” The great thing about working with a crew who knows the challenges of their space is that they also know the solutions to overcoming those challenges! For those few lighting instruments in front of the stage, they had a plan – out came the ladder and the box and focus was complete.

We all had some time to take a dinner break before it was time to open the doors. The audience made their way into the theatre starting at 7pm and by show time, there was a great crowd. Keith and Dave had to deal with a backstage monitor issue to get rid of some distortion issues (bad ones) just before we opened the curtain for the light show.

Cindy and I thought it might be a quiet crowd because we couldn’t hear them backstage during the pre-show music and light show. We generally get some sort of initial impression in those few minutes of the “pre-show experience.” Not this time. BUT when we hit the stage for the first illusion, WOW were we wrong! This audience had so much energy throughout the entire show – applause, audible gasps, and murmurs of amazement really gave us the enthusiasm to do the best we could for this crowd. As a performer, you get so much from your audience and this one was outstanding!

After the show, I had the chance to take some time and visit with many of those who attended the show. This is one of my favorite times of the day. I love to hear about their favorite illusion or listen to them share a magical memory.

Tear down went quickly – and we were loaded up in record time! A big thanks to everyone who made our experience in Kearney a great one.

Today, we start the drive to the Northeast.

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