Last week I wrote up our "adventures" in Hong Kong and a few people wrote to me privately saying how they enjoyed seeing a little of the work that went on "behind the scenes" in taking illusions overseas.
Well three days after we got back we travelled interstate to Brisbane. This was a typical gig for us, (and after Hong Kong it seemed a breeze!) but I thought I'd give you a quick run down of what it takes to do a 30 minute show in Brisbane.
The night before is spent packing our luggage and making sure nothing is too heavy. Because we are Frequent Flyers we get a total of two pieces of luggage up to 32kgs per piece. (If we fly Jetstar or Virgin, we get one piece each up to 20kgs, everything over that is excess). We take:
- Roadcase (modified suitcase table) which is usually 30kgs.
- Base for the levitation, about 22kgs.
- Pole for the levitation, 9kgs.
- Suit carrier, 20kgs.
Then we each have a small carry-on bag with fragile items and sometimes a costume on a hanger.
Our flight to Brisbane was noon, so we aim to get to the airport two hours earlier just in case, so we leave home at 9.30am, arrive at long term parking at 10.00am, and unload all our luggage from the van and wheel it through the car park to the bus stop. (The base goes on the roadcase - which has wheels - and the pole is on top of that with a carry-on case. I push that while Sue-Anne has the suit carrier - on wheels - with a carry-on on top of that).
We put everything on the bus and get dropped off at the Qantas departures area. We check in and our suit carrier goes down the conveyor belt, we take the other three items across to "special baggage" where they are tested for explosives residue and sent down a different conveyor belt. Then it's through the security x-ray for us (getting stopped if we have: Linking Rings, a jumbo coin, or the Jeannie Bottle in our carry-on).
Now it's waiting time. We wait in the Qantas Club where we grab a snack, we wait on the plane for two hours flying to Brisbane, we wait for at least 30 minutes for all our luggage to come out on the conveyor belt, we wait while the taxi driver figures out how to get the luggage into his cab, we wait while going to the hotel and then we arrive at the hotel around 3 pm.
We go through the same story 50% of the time. The hotel has our reservation but either wants us to pay for our room because they don't realise the client is paying, or the room has been paid for but the breakfast hasn't. Most of the time the client has cleared this with the hotel, but the hotel hasn't got it in writing.
Now it's four hours before I do close-up for the clients, and six hours before we do our 30 minute show.
In Brisbane we took a stroll through the city to grab a bite to eat and to look for props and costumes for Sue-Anne's PRIVATE EYE show. Then it was back to the hotel where I took a look in the room where we were going to perform only to discover they had no PA set up. Yes, they had in-ceiling speakers, but not of a good enough quality to play back our music.
I spoke to the Banquets Manager, the Events Manager and the In House Staging Connections person. Apparently no-one had told them we needed a PA. I called the client, they had passed on our requirements... Yes, a PA could be brought in, but at extra cost to the client. BUT, as there was a function next door, they didn't want us to have any loud music as it would disturb the other guests. The Staging Connections said I'd need to use a special transformer to patch into the ceiling system and he went off to get it. After a while, I decided to patch in anyway and, as I expected, it worked fine. I ran my music through their in-ceiling speakers as loud as they would go. The Event Manager said she wouldn't allow the sound to be louder than that... so there was no point in getting a PA in. I knew the sound would be rubbish, but as long as I explained the situation to the client (which I did) we wouldn't look bad in their eyes.
Meanwhile the Banquet staff were in a kerfuffle as they'd put out four tables instead of five and were busy resetting the room for the correct number of guests.
For the next 30 minutes we ferried props from our hotel room down to the function room and preset what we could because there was no area to change in the function room, we had to use a meeting room down the hall. (Often we're staying in a different hotel to the venue, so this was a breeze in that regard).
Now I headed back up and got changed, came down stairs and met the client again and was briefed before going into the close-up magic for the guests in the foyer.
Then it was two hours of waiting and preparing in the meeting room while the guests enjoyed dinner and speeches.
Finally the main courses were cleared from the tables and we were on standby, just waiting for the smokers to return. (They had to take the lift to the ground floor and go outside into the street for their ciggies, then come back... it took a while).
The show started and, of course, the music was waaaay to soft and somewhat tinny. But we tried to make up for it with a more energetic performance.
Sue-Anne noticed it was very hard to see me and she found someone who could turn the lights in the room back up. (Apparently, as soon as the guests came in for dinner, they turned the lights down to about 20% to create a lovely "mood".)
The show was done, the guests had a great time (because they were laughing and clapping along, we couldn't hear ANY of the music for the Great Whammo) and then it was a case of grabbing some of the props and getting them out of the function room and into the meeting room so we could pack up.
While we were packing they brought us our re-heated main courses and some soft drinks (about 10.15pm) and after eating we took the props back up to the room. I headed back down stairs as I had to get the audio gear out of the function room. Just as I got into the room, the guest of honour was introduced and began his speech. I stopped packing and sat down. An hour later I resumed packing and got back up into the room about midnight.
We got up at 5am to take a 6am taxi to the airport for our 7.50am flight back to Melbourne. Repeat the process - luggage into taxis, departure lounges, Qantas Club, flight, carousels, parking bus, load into van and just a little after 11am we drove our van back into our garage.
That night, and the next few nights, we just had close-up shows which, pay less but are so much less work. Jump in the car with the gear, drive to the venue, put stuff in your pockets, walk in and perform. (Well, except for when Sue-Anne does close up as Jeannie.. add two hours of make up and costume preparation for that).
Anyway, just a little peep behind the scenes for those who were interested.