Posts Tagged ‘illusion’


Monday, March 19th, 2012

This is the first we’ve performance at the Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center in Chillicothe, MO.  We arrived around 9am for a 3pm show. Typically we would add some time to the set up day but Keith felt that things were going to go well – and we didn’t want to have to be there at 7am!  The truck pulled up to the loading area and the guys were there to start moving things onto the stage.

Sue and the crew had all the lighting ready for us.  We started with the scenery and then to the intelligent lighting.  We thought there might be some issues with the hazers but it all worked out.  By 1pm, we were ready to start tweaking the cues and making this look like an illusion show.

The crowd started to build around 2pm in the lobby and by 2:30pm, when the doors opened, there was a huge crowd waiting to get in.  The theatre filled up very quickly in those first 10 minutes.  There was a real excitement in the air and you could hear it in the conversations.  Senior Citizens, families, high school students, young adults – every age and every kind of person filled the auditorium.  And they were an amazing audience!

Thank you Chillicothe for making our first performance so much fun!  I look forward to coming back again!


Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Last night, we performed in Fairmont, MN at the Fairmont Opera House. Tickets had been selling very well and , by show, we were completely sold out.  The Opera House is an intimate theatre that was built in 1901.  It is located in the center of downtown and really is in the heart of this community.

We arrived early in the day to begin loading in.  The dock is situated on the side of the building.  We first pulled up next to the building, walked inside to meet the crew and scope the space.  Everyone was working had to finish up the light plot.  We decided what the production elements of the evening show would be and then decided to start the load in.  In order to get to the dock, I needed to pull across the street and back into the dock.  That would mean the rig would block four lanes of traffic – but the police department is used to this and had been called in advance.

We got all loaded into an started to get the show set up.  A few minutes later, a local police officer came onto the stage.  He was talking into his talkie, not really paying attention to what was happening on stage.  Then he asked, “who is with that moving van outside?”  No one responded because we don’t have a moving van.  We have a 65 foot semi truck and trailer…so I had no idea he was talking to any of us.  We just kept working.  A few seconds later, he asked again…this time a little more firm.  I responded with, “You mean the big truck?”  Turns out he was a little upset that we had blocked the road to unload the truck and he wasn’t there to control traffic, even though the theatre had called and they were informed.  Oh well, I told him we would be doing it again tonight around 9:45pm – he said to call.

We moved on into the day – getting one of the backdrops into place, having the moving lights, and focusing the traditional lighting instruments. On to sound checks and music volume levels…and then dinner time!

Doors opened at 7pm and the audience started making their way to their seats.  You could hear the excitement in the theatre – and I knew it was going to be a fun show.  The audience was great – very responsive, laughing and clapping in all the right places.  And I loved hearing the “gasps” when something “magical” would happen on stage.  What a great time I had!

Thank you Fairmont for making us feel welcome and being such an outstanding audience!


Friday, March 9th, 2012

I have spent the last few days in Burnsville, MN.  I taught therapists at the Courage Center how to integrate magic into the treatment programs and worked in schools with children on the autism spectrum.  And last night was the big show at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center.

We arrived around 12noon to start unloaded the trailer and begin the set up for the evening show.  This is a new, beautiful arts center.  The main theatre is over 1,000 seats but very intimate.  Keith and I worked with the crew to shift around some of the soft goods while Alan and Chase unloaded the trailer (not something they normally do by themselves but they let me keep the crew).  Keith and I continued to work with the local guys to get all of our scenery hung and the moving lights into place.

The next step was to get all the gel color into the traditional lights, determine the heights on this stage, tweak the positions of the moving lights, and then start the final focus.  While the crew was wrapping up those final touches, Topher (one of the locals) and I ran up to the balcony to focus all the font of house lighting and get the main drop looking nice for the show.

After about two hours working on the lights, everything started to come together and look “magical.”  Keith worked on sound, getting levels for my microphone and the music.

When it was time to the open the doors, we had a full house AND a great audience!  From the moment I took the stage with the first illusion, they audience was with me – responding to everything with a gasp, laugh, applause.  I even heard several people many times through the show say, “No way – how did he do that?”

In the lobby after the show, I had the privilege of meeting so many people, shake their hands, and hear their favorite moment.  Meeting people who were in the audience is always an amazing experience for me.  Thank you Burnsville for all your support and being such an incredible audience last night!!


Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

After a great experience in Flint, we made the four hour drive to the western side of Michigan for a Sunday matinee performance at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.  We had an early morning load in but everyone was there are ready to go.  This space is a little different for us and required some creative thinking to pull it all together.  In the end, with a great team, we assembled a solid show for the audience.

We were just a few seats shy of selling out the theatre and the audience was simply awesome.  The responses to each of the illusions was audible.  And because of the intimacy of the space, I was able to see every face in the crowd!

We left immediately after the show to begin the drive back to Virginia – home for 2 days!  We haven’t been home since mid-January so all of us were looking forward to sleeping in our own beds.

Today, we leave for Morristown, NJ for a Friday night (7:30pm) performance at the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts.  There was a nice article in the DAILY RECORD about the show and tickets have been selling well.  I’m hopeful for a full house.  If you are in the Morristown area and want to come, you can buy tickets online – there’s not a bad seat in the house!


Thursday, February 9th, 2012

We are in Newark, OH in advance of our performance tomorrow night at the beautiful Midland Theatre.  Today started extremely early – like a 4:30am wake up call – so that I could be at the Midland Theatre for a series of interviews on GOOD DAY COLUMBUS.  Steve, the executive director, was also up early when he picked me up at the hotel!  Thanks Steve…and then got me coffee (thank you again!).

Working with Johnny DiLoretto, the on-the-go reporter for Good Day Columbus, was awesome!  He kept things moving and, in between television hits, was great fun to hang with.  I think we did about 5 or 6 segments throughout the morning show.  Check out the photos on my FaceBook album:

After television, I had the chance to work with some very cool students at the Excel Academy in the morning…and, in the afternoon, spent some time at My Place To Be – both in Newark.  It was an opportunity to share with educators and students the concepts of the Hocus Focus education project. Tomorrow night is the main performance of THEATRE OF ILLUSION at the Midland Theatre at 7pm – come join us!


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!


Friday, December 2nd, 2011

So far, this has been an amazing tour.  If you’re just now checking the blog, please go back and read about our time in Spain.  It was magical in every way – the venues, the audiences, and all the people we had the privilege of getting to know and share our time. Fantastic memories!

Italy has been fun as well.  It’s much colder here though.  Imperia was a beautiful city on the Sea.  Sassuolo was quaint and peaceful. And now, we have been in Verona for two days to relax a bit.  This is a charming town filled with history, beautiful architecture, and great food.  We decided to stay in the historic district at the Grand Hotel.  It’s within walking distance of most everything.

We explored the area inside the “walls” of Verona where many of the historic buildings are.  We stumbled into the markets, the Christmas market (lots of great food and sweets!), the shopping district, the Verona Arena, the legendary balcony of Romeo and Juliet, and much more.  Here are a few of the pictures.  I’m posting more of them on Flickr.

Notice the difference in the way this warrior treated me….and Cindy!


Thursday, December 1st, 2011

We flew from Bilbao, Spain to Milan, Italy on Monday (11/28), were picked up by our driver (Beppe) and started the journey to Imperia.  We had about a 3 hour drive so we arrived after 8pm.  We checked into the Hotel Miramare and settled in for two days.

Our performances in Italy were coordinated by LIVENATION ITALY – the largest promoter in Europe.  Presenting an illusion show is not a typical performance in the theatres of Italy so this was something new for all of us.

Imperia is located on the Mediterranean Sea in Northern Italy.  We also found out that it is most famous for its “seafood spaghetti” – the best in all of Europe they say.  We arrived at the theatre around 12noon and met up with Salva and Massimo, our technical contacts from LIVENATION.  This is a very old theatre in the center of town surrounded by very small cobblestone streets.  Pedro from Transluminaria was already there with the equipment.  We unloaded the truck and started setting up for the evening performance…which didn’t start until 9pm!  Ticket sales had been good and we were less than 70 tickets from being sold out.

It’s an interesting stage because it is raked from front to back.  I mean there is a significant slant to the stage which makes it very difficult to keep large, heavy illusions on wheels from rolling toward the audience!  The solution was to nail a long narrow strip of wood to the floor so the wheels would have something to rest against and prevent them from rolling.  The next challenge was finding ways to turn the illusions around on stage so the audience could see all sides.  More strength than ingenuity was needed for that task!

Before the show, I met up with Monica, the translator, and we talked through some of the more “conversational” tricks.  She did a great job during the show and the audience responded well to all of the magic.  I spoke with many of them afterwards in the lobby and was told many times that they had never seen a show like ours before.  One lady commented, “It was so amazing and unbelievable I wasn’t sure if it was real or illusion.”

We were back to the hotel by 12midnight and in bed by 1am.  Morning would come early.  We had a 4-hour drive to our next show in Sassuolo.  Beppe met us at the hotel at 8:30am and we were on the road by 9am.

The drive to Sassuolo was very foggy but the sun finally came out once we moved further inland.  We arrived at the theatre around 1:30pm and Salva had already coordinated the unloading of the equipment with Pedro.    If we thought that Teatro Cavour stage had a slant to it, this place was even more sloped!  This one was going to be a big challenge.  We ended up re-staging several of the illusions to include Alan and Chase on stage to assist with the moving of the props.

The audience was great – very supportive and enthusiastic.  While it was a smaller audience than Imperia, the energy level was very high.

After two shows in Italy – and a very full schedule for two weeks – we finally have a couple of days to rest.  Beppe picked us up at the Hotel Terme Salvarola at 11am and we made the 90 minute drive to Verona.  This is where we will stay for the next couple of days before catching our flight to Istanbul.  The media there is starting to become more aware of our show.  I’m booked to appear on CNN Turkey and another popular morning show.  I’ll keep you posted!


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!


Sunday, December 12th, 2010

I was talking to an education consultant here in Xi’an about the condition of the schools. Many of them are very good but special education is very new.  She is a special education consultant.  Most of the children in these schools are abandoned by their parents because they have some sort of physical or mental disability.  Because China has a “one child” policy, if the parents abandon their disabled child, they can have another one and hope for one that is healthy.  It’s very sad.  These are forgotten children. I hope to be able to work with her even more in the future with the Healing of Magic and Hocus Focus projects.

Today, we also did a bit of sightseeing starting with the Big Goose Wild Pagoda.  Buddhism came to China from travelers along the Silk Road from India.  During the Tang Dynasty (629 AD) a “master” teacher named XuanZang traveled from Xi’an to India along the Silk Road to get the Buddhist teachings.  He brought them back in 645 and the pagoda was built by the emperor to house them.

After walking the grounds of the Pagoda, we moved on to the Xi’an City Wall.  Xi’an was a fortified city with a wall built completely around it to protect it from invaders.  Today it stands as part of the city’s history and an attraction.  The top of the wall is very wide.  We decided to bike ride from the East Gate to the South Gate and back again.  If we were to bike around the entire wall, it’s about 14 km and takes about 90 minutes or so.  It’s COLD here so we just did half of that!

After biking the wall, we were very hungry.  Lunch today was at a very famous dumpling restaurant across the street from our hotel.  Through the course of the meal, they brought out 18 different kinds of dumplings.  Some of them were great, others were interesting, and some were just not “tasty” at all.

After lunch, we decided to take another walk through the Muslim Quarter marketplace.  This place is HUGE and a major tourist trap.  And since this is a not  ”tourist” adventure for us, we just kept walking!  We did make our way to the Great Mosque.  It was also constructed ruing the Tang Dynasty (742 AD).  It is allowed to continue to exist by the Communist Government of China because the Muslims fought for the Emperor and their “eternal safety” was guaranteed.  It is unique because it is built in the Chinese architecture rather than traditional Arab style.

The entire Mosque is very large – about 13,000 square meters.  And it’s divided into four courtyards.

Today wraps up our last day in mainland China.  Tomorrow we will fly back to Hong Kong where I’ll be speaking at the East Asian International Conference on Teacher Education Research – a great opportunity and very exciting!