Sometimes life pulls us in a multitude of directions. It happens by choice, circumstance or chance. With the global economy being what it is at this point in time, shifting focus from selling to performing what I’ve sold for 18 years seemed inevitable.
While I have always maintained my skills as a close-up and parlor magician, I’ve allowed almost 15 years to lapse since I have performed magic on the stage. I recently had the opportunity to recreate what was once my passion in a beautifully refurbished theater in my home town of Philadelphia. I received the phone call on a Friday and had the weekend to either book the week long engagement for myself or to find someone else to fill the bill. I decided to put myself outside of my comfort level. Sometimes, we’re capable of great things if we give ourselves a little push.
I had a little less than 8 weeks to fully create, produce and perfect a 45 minute stage show. Several days were spent deciding what pieces I would perform. Owning a magic shop should make that chore rather simple. The truth is it’s really not that simple. I have concepts in my mind of how something should look. In many circumstances, props need to be modified or created to meet those demands.
Once the list of effects and concepts was created, the music was selected and edited to fit the proper time elements required by each selection. At this point about a week had elapsed. Some of the pieces chosen were things I was comfortable doing many years ago. Several new pieces were added. Usually my wife worked with me for larger shows. This trip I would be completely solo.
Two of the pieces required a bunny; the Bunny Bucket and Where does the Bunny Go. One inherit problem having someone offstage load and unload the bunny when needed. I trust very few people to assist me especially when it comes to caring for livestock. Since Rose could not be with me, I needed to go offstage to load the bunny just before I needed to produce her.
After a bit of thought I decided to create a five minute interactive movie to be shown on a large movie screen. This simple task of creating the movie took me about 14 hours to accomplish. It was well worth my time. While the movie played for the audience I would have enough time to freshen up a bit, set a couple of things in action for the last part of the show and of course load the bunny.
Some other solo nuances were worked out and the show started to develop. The opening number was modified a number of times before coming up with the proper number of pieces to produce form a tip trunk. The show begins with dark and mysterious music. As the curtains open a shadowy figure is seen hold a flaming torch. As he carefully looks over his audience, he tosses balls of fire high into the air. As bright white stage light fades in, the audience sees a large square chest atop an open-framed table. The audience is allowed to view the interior of the empty box.
As the music builds the torch is tossed high into the air where it magically turns into a large silver sceptre. It is the source of the magician’s power. It’s waved over and around the empty chest. As the music reaches its peak, endless streamers painted with a rainbow of colors are pulled from the chest in rapid fire succession. One after the other colorful umbrellas are pulled from the chest which fill the stage floor. As the music comes to an end, two large bird cages each displaying a pretty white dove are pulled from the once empty chest. The lights fade, the curtains close and the magician bows to his audience.
Another 2 weeks and the rest of the show was put in place. The following two weeks were spent practicing fragments of the show. Once comfortable with each prop, full rehearsals were put into place on a daily basis. The cue sheets were created for the lighting technician, sound man and backstage hand. As showtime came closer, we made arrangements to borrow a cargo van for the week, rescued two Lion-head Dwarf Rabbits from a local animal shelter, decided on costuming and invited some close friends as well as several strangers for dress rehearsals.
An old friend who I remain very close with today, called to ask if I needed a hand with the show. Thankfully, I took him up on his offer. Alan used to help me some 30 years ago with my magic. As it turned out, he was a Godsend! The backstage hand was not available from the theater. Alan saved my life that week!
On Saturday, August 24th, we left early in the morning for Philadelphia. We had just 3 hours to set up the show, and do one run-through with the lighting tech and sound man. The theater was closed on Sunday. The next day would be opening day…the first show. While I much rather would have rehearsed late into the night on Saturday and Sunday, the one time would have to suffice.
Monday morning came in what seemed like just minutes. The theater was filled to capacity. Standing room only; all 400 seats filled! A few minor glitches, but non noticeable to the audience…except for the brief moment the rope became tangled as it uncoiled. A funny ad-libbed comment and the moment passed right by everyone! Each day the show became tighter with minor adjustments that can only be done during live shows. By Thursday everything was tight and all parties were 100% in sync.
The show was very well received by all of the audiences throughout the week. It was worth the effort.