Yesterday was THE busiest day of the year for Melbourne entertainers. Every Christmas has one day when everyone is doing at least two gigs, and yesterday was it.
I even got a call from a client on Thursday night asking if I could get him a close up magician for two hours on Friday. After an hour of calling around, I had to let him know that no-one was available.
We had 7 magicians out there working at Christmas parties last night, and it was a crazy day for us too.
First off, I was still trying to finish writing, creating and learning my script for a hoax presentation I was doing to launch The Crock Group in Richmond. As the day began though, I saw an ad for City Peugeot in the paper and, though the insurance company still hasn't given us an assessment figure for Sue-Anne's written-off car, we need to find a new one somewhere and fast! I called City Peugeot and Jason Dahlman told me they had exactly the car we wanted, in the colour we wanted, with the trims we wanted, in stock and available. But we had to make an appointment to go in and see him. So.. though we really didn't have the time, we made the time to go see him at 1.30pm.
As soon as Sue-Anne got back from her jobs in the morning, I packed the van and off we went. We met Jason and asked to see the car. He said he had to talk to his mananger and he went behind and glass partition and they had a chat... then he came out and explained that the car was no longer there. We asked had it been sold? He sort of vaguely implied that it must have been. We asked why did he sell it if he knew we were coming in to see it, and he told us we should have put a hold on it. We asked, did you really have the car in stock? (Because in all our previous enquiries with Peugeot there were no such cars in Australia) His reply, if you really are interested in the blue I can show you what it looks like. We explained that colour wasn't that crucial to us, and asked again, did he really have the car in stock earlier today? He replied, I can order one in and you'll have it in two weeks. (Which is impossible as there are none in Australia, and the next shipment isn't due until May 2007!)We realised he had lied just to get us in and walked out of the store, disgusted that he had wasted out time and got our hopes up in such a deceptive way.
City Peugeot. Jason Dahlman. Losers.
We headed to Crown Casino because we were supposed to set up for an evening show between 2-4pm, then I was heading off to do the Crock launch and Sue-Anne was going off with Al Cappuccino to do close-up at The Powerhouse in Albert Park. But I had to stop off to get a new wig for my hoax character.. so we stopped in at Celebrity Wigs and I bought one in record time and completed the "look" of Cornelius Watson, marketing expert from the UK firm Stamford Consulting.
As we got to Crown we got a phone call from Staging Connections letting us know that the room wouldn't be available until 4pm because another function was in it. I expressed my unimpressedness to them on the phone. They called back and said they made a mistake, the room would be available from 3.30pm and we could do our soundcheck at 4pm.
To sum up a very stressful period of time...
- We got into Crown and from 3-3.3pm we waited in another function room, because Crown said the client hadn't booked a Green Room for us to change in. Sue-Anne did her make-up at a dinner table.
- 3.30pm the guests in the room we were going into wouldn't leave. (No surprises there).
- 3.40pm Crown suddenly discovered there was a Green Room booked after all! So we moved all of our suff there.
- 3.55pm we were able to bump in to the room. We were supposed to set up our show behind a black drape behind a stage. Then, when we returned to Crown at 8pm, we would be pretty much ready to go on at 8.45pm.
- 4.00pm we had placed 3 items, still in cases in the room behind a row of chairs they had set up to indicate to us where the back of the stage was going to be. We left our radio mic there for them to test in our absence and requested a lead be set to backstage for our MiniDisc player.
- 4.05pm I ran back to the Green Room and changed into character, waited 25 minutes in line for a taxi and got to Richmond at 4.55pm.
- 5.30pm Sue-Anne headed off to Powerhouse with Al where they did close up from 6.30-7.30pm.
- (Meanwhile, as we later found out, that the band who were working at our function in Crown arrived for their soundcheck at 4.30pm and, after being directed to the wrong loading dock, waited for an hour because the stage was still being built... then stood on stage as their 25 minute soundcheck to an hour because the PA was still be set up)
- 7.35pm I get back to Crown and set the show up behind the curtain. There is no lead for the MiniDisc back there. I ask the Staging Connections AV guy and he says he had to lead it to the AV desk instead (which was further away) but gives no real reason as to why. I explain that we like to have it backstage because if anything goes wrong we can fix it, but if it's at the AV desk we can't. He says "Yes, I understand"... but does nothing.
- 8pm and Sue-Anne arrives. I get to tell her that the function is running late.. we are now scheduled to go on at 9.25pm.
Now just to fill you in on this gig, the room is long, our stage is on the wide wall. We are facing a dance floor, the audience is split into two with one half on our left and the other half on our right. Difficult? Yes!
There is a second stage for the band.. facing us. We were to be on that stage but Staging Connections told us there was no room for us. We asked them to add a 6ft deep staging module to the front of the stage. Instead, they insisted on adding a second stage, with a black backdrop hung behind it (for us to change behind) and a set of lights on the second stage. I asked if this would cost the client extra.. no, no, not much really. the staging is free with the room. (But the labour charge to set up the staging isn't! Staging Connections charge for that.. even though, as the band members told us, waiters set the stage up. Add to that the black backdrop and the lights and the client was billed an extra $1000).
So 9.25pm comes around, and the audience are already starting to get tired. It's an awards night and they presented the awards between entree and main course.(Here's a tip, always go on before the awards... everyone's happy then. After the awards the winners are happy, the losers are miserable! And that's up to 75% of your audience!)
I asked the people on the five tables immediately to the left and right of the stage to bring their chairs onto the dancefloor so they could get a great front row view of the stage. Thankfully, after a little coaxing, they participated and we did the show. Everything went amazingly well (though our music, normally too soft in volume, was so loud and bassy I had to turn it down during the show twice using my remote).
It was a crazy day... and I'm glad days like that don't happen all that often. Today it's just one show and it's a company Christmas party in a reception centre. Easy.