I didn't see this posted anywhere so I thought I would make it available. Found it over at allmagic.com. Enjoy.
SCHOOL SHOW TIPS
Over the last 18 years as a full-time magical entertainer I've performed at almost every venue under every circumstance, from comedy clubs where drunken patrons stop the show with their heckling, to childrens' shows where little kids stop the show with their innate humor. After performing 20 to 30 shows a month, I've gleaned a few tips for the school show performer.
Some of these tips might go against what the master school show performers have written about in the past, so my caveat is these are things I've discovered that work for me. If they work for you as well, great, use them with my blessing. If not, keep them in the back of your head, they may work for you one day and you'll thank me later. These tips are meant for a school show, but upon re-reading them I notice some can be used for private affairs as well.
1 - Tell the school person who hired you that you'll arrive later than you actually do. For example, tell them you'll get there thirty minutes before show time, but actually arrive forty-five minutes before. They'll think highly for you for being early. My motto: 'On time is late.'
2 - Always check in at the Main Office before going to the performance area. Schools want to know who is in their building and for what reason.
3 - Give yourself more time than you think you'll need to be ready for show time. Remember, you have to sign in at the front desk, check in at the main office (here in New York these are two entirely different things.) Make small talk with the office staff, be introduced to the principal, find out where you'll be performing, talk with the janitor about which door to bring equipment in, wait for the early band rehearsal to finish and clear the area of their chairs, music stands, etc.
This whole process could take half an hour before you even unload your van. Then you have to bring in your equipment, set it up, check sound and lights and give yourself time for changing and freshening up. I know performers who show up 15 minutes before show time. How is this possible? I know. When they find they're running late, they blame everyone else.
4 - When checking in, don't tell the office staff you're a magician. If you do, you'll have to stand there while the office people make magic talk ("Can you make the students disappear?" "Can you do a quick trick?" "How did you get started in magic?") Early in the morning right before show time (and class time) is not a good time to make small talk with the office people. I usually tell them I'm performing today and immediately ask where the room is where the show will be. They then call the custodian and have him direct me. Straight and to the point.
5 - The school's sound equipment is usually old and outdated so don't rely on it. Bring your own. And make sure your sound is adequate for a big auditorium. Don't scrimp on a measly sound system. Spend the money on one that will be heard in a 300 seat auditorium (which some schools have.) And please, always use a microphone ... always! You may think you have a booming theater voice, but you don't. No one does to fill a large auditorium.
6 - Don't rely on school employees to supply anything. Equip yourself with everything you need: extension cord, outlet adapters, dolly, table, chair, bottled water, etc. You're making more in one day than most school employees make in a week. Don't ask them to work for you by scrambling before school starts to find things you should be bringing with you in the first place.
7 - This one will go against the masters in school show entertainment, but I believe this one whole-heartedly. Do not have students help you when carrying equipment in. Here's what I think: Parents, teachers, principals or even the authorities will ask the following questions. "How did my son get hurt carrying boxes from the parking lot into the school?" "Why is that student carrying equipment when he should be in homeroom?" "Why is my son out of the school building without supervision when he should be inside?" "Why is my son doing manual labor when this performer is making enough to hire his own helpers?"
Get my point? There are many reasons not to have students help you. Are you insured to cover the student if he/she gets hurt? Will you speak with the homeroom teacher so the students don't get marked absent while they lug your equipment in? The performers who ask students for help are lazy and/or cheap. Get to the school earlier and do it yourself, or hire someone to help you if you have too much equipment.
8 - When you eventually meet the person who has hired you (usually the PTA president,) always ask sincerely, "How's everything running?" It makes you look interested in how the program is doing.
9 - Make sure you have a person to turn stage lights on for you and to adjust them. All light boards are different in each school. It may not be easy or apparent how to turn them on or adjust them. I've been to some schools where the light board was locked inside a cage. Find this person early on so they get to it while you're setting up. Don't do it five minutes before show time.
10 - If you're performing in the gym, don't block the doorways to the outside with your equipment. In case of an emergency, the gym doors need to be accessible.
11 - If performing in the gym, hide your empty boxes and cases with one or two gym mats which are turned sideways. The firmer gym mats will stand on its side and block the unsightly paraphernalia.
12 - If you're performing on a school stage, take a look at what is behind you when you perform. A school project that is hanging on the back curtain will, from the front, look like it's growing out of your head.
13 - Be careful where you hang clothes that you don't use. A hanger of clothes, a coat or a jacket should be hung where no one will see it. I've seen performers hang their clothes (the ones they arrived in) on a hanger hung from the gym door behind them. How unsightly.
14 - When performing in a gym, use cones or tape to keep children back a safe distance. If you don't, they'll creep right up to your microphone stand. When using tape on the gym floor, make sure it's 'approved gym tape' as regular tape will stick and is very difficult to remove.
15 - And speaking of microphones, please always use one. I've heard school performers tell me they don't need a microphone because they have a good 'theater voice.' They do, until about five minutes go by, and then they have a regular speaking voice that no one can hear past the third row (I know this is a repeat of number five, but it needs to be said again.)
16 - Be sure the passageway to the stage is clear for volunteers. Keep the stairs free from any obstructions. Also, make an aisle up the middle on the gym floor for volunteers to come up instead of having to go all the way around the entire audience to get to you.
17 - Go out of your way to help volunteers on and off the stage. Meet them at the steps, take their hand making sure they don't trip on the way up and walk them to center stage. Reverse the procedure when you're finished. It not only ensures their safety, but also makes you look wonderful in the eyes of the teachers.
18 - Just because the janitor cleans up the school, don't expect him to clean up after you. When you're finished, the room you used should look exactly the same, if not better, than when you arrived.
19 - After the show is over and you've cleaned up, always thank the person who hired you, as well as the principal and the janitor.
20 - A thank you note a few days later to the person who hired you and to the principal go a long way in getting you hired again next year.