For the fourth year in a row, I did a Fall Festival for a local church. I had a room setup off the gym that was done up like a magic shop.
Every other year, I’ve been at the far end of the gym with a lapel microphone, attempting to do a 25 minute magic program for 300 or more people. Utter chaos. However, this year, they did the gym up like a town square and had a bunch of adjoining classrooms decorated like stores. There was a stage in the center of the gym for dancing and singing groups, a café with free food, a game room, a candy store a few other "store" themes and among them…my magic shop. They painted a wall hanging on the outside of the room to look like the window and building front of a magic shop. I decorated the interior and hung a sign with my logo over the door. They provided me with a glass counter complete with multiple interior glas-front shelves with fluorescent lighting to display my wares.
I setup various illusions displayed inside the counter, had stickers and prizes on one end of the counter and a large close-up pad on the other end of the counter. Two feet from the counter, I put a line of black duct tape on the floor and the kids stood behind that for the show. I brought in 10 to 20 kids at a time, performed three to five different tricks for them, (one required Gospel trick was in the middle of each set), gave them each prizes and brought in another group to do it all over again.
My bouncer/assistant gave each child an "Official Magician's Assistant" sticker so that we could keep track of kids attempting to visit the shop more than once. I also would perform a rotating list of illusions so that even if someone were to catch two shows, there was a good chance that all but the opening illusion would be different from what they saw.
I opened almost every group with a Peanut Butter and Jelly routine. Always a hit with the kids, (and many, many adults).
For the Gospel presentations, I alternated with "He Is Risen," "Ledger Of Life" a Gospel presentation using the "ABC Blocks" illusion, a Gospel message using a stiff rope and a very strong, very cool silk transposition routine utilizing a dove-sized draw box and an appear/vanish/change box. That one always kills.
I did "Jumbo Coincidence" several times during the evening - especially when I had a lot of adults and/or older kids. That got a LOT of dropped jaws!
Some of the other illusions that made an appearance over a two hour period last Friday night:
- PsychoKenetic Nut & Bolt
- Mis-made Flag
- Russian Color-Changing Rings
- Strat-O-Sphere (the original one with the original gimmick - not that cheap "Joker Tube" knock-off!)
- Bill Abbott's "The Thing"
For a group of adults that had been working hard all day at setting up the event and just prior to its official start, I did some close-up magic free-of-charge:
- Jumbo Coincidence
- Holy Moly
- Circle Square Prediction
- Invisible Deck
- Departure Ring Flight (That was its debut - the first time I'd performed it!)
- Hot Rod
- Strange Travelers
This was probably the most fun performance I've ever done - and the most successful. The chaos of performing in a huge gym for a huge group, (some of whom weren't interested and who were participating in other noisy activities), was outside my "shop" and no longer a factor. I had a quiet room, performing for smaller groups. Crowd control was an absolute breeze and everyone in the magic shop WANTED to see magic; so I had no people causing distractions. The way I had the room and the counter setup made everything absolutely angle-proof. And though I performed for 2 and a half hours, (quick resets - where necessary - occurred as one group exited and as my "bouncer/assistant" was preparing the next group for entry); it was a much more pleasant experience. I didn't have to write a themed program that fit within a strict time limit, (last year, they were running late and wanted me to cut a 25 minute program to 10 minutes; which messes with the whole theme and message of the program I'd prepared).
It was a great success and the most fun performance I think I've ever had. I hadn't even gotten my stuff broken down and packed up when the organizer for the event came to me and asked if he could book me again for next year. I told him if he was going to do the rooms again and would let me have a room and loan me the counter once again, I would schedule them for next year. He whole-heartily and enthusiastically agreed. ...So I've got next year's gig lined up.
That was the most unique type of show I'd ever done. Different from walk-around. Different from the typical kid's show. Different from the typical church show or even from previous Fall Festivals at this particular church. Wish ALL my shows could be like that!