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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Have you ever watched an illusionist perform and wondered how the tricks were done? Well, Jason Bishop can't reveal his secrets, but, in honor of his latest show Believe in Magic, he wanted to share with you seven facts about life as a professional magician. 
 
Jason BishopIt's important to have a LOT of interests. One thing I really love about being a magician is that I'm able to use all of my (many) hobbies in my illusions. I get to use physics, electronics, chemistry, video editing and even animal training. It's important to become both a jack of all trades and a master of all trades so you can have a rich background to pull from to surprise and delight your audience. 

Performing is the fun part. Being in front of an audience and sensing that they're totally with you is one of my favorite feelings in the world. But sometimes, it's a challenge just to arrive at the gig. There was one time that I traveled for over 24 hours to get to Australia and needed to immediately perform the very same night I arrived. Entertainers miss holidays, weddings, birthdays and every other special event in the calendar. It can be a drag, but when I entertain an audience that is fully invested in the magic, it's all worth it. 

There's a lot of travel. Kim, Gizmo and I are all from Pennsylvania, but we've been fortunate enough to travel to France, China, the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia and Hawaii. I can't begin to count the number of fascinating people I've met and the amazing places I've visited. Every day, I'm thankful for all of the incredible venues who've booked us around the world.

You're the most popular person at a party. People I meet are equal parts entertained and intrigued by what I do. When someone requests a trick, it's usually one of the two most popular requests—making a million dollars appear or making their spouse disappear. Let it be known, I've never taken either request. When I'm eating, people usually ask "So, how are you making all that food vanish?"

Jason BishopYou have to hold two opposing thoughts in your head at the same time. A magician knows how a trick is done, but also what the illusion should look like. A part of me totally believes that I'm floating an object in the air, but another part of me is thinking intently about the mechanics of the illusion.

There are lots of different types of magic. In magic, there are large stage illusionists who accomplish enormous tricks. On the flip side, close up magicians with very small, fine illusions perform equally complex feats that can only be seen by a few people. There's also comedy magic and mentalism, where the performer seems to read people's minds. Like right now you're thinking...is Jason a mentalist? The answer is no, but I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. 

Magic crosses cultural and language boundaries. No matter where I perform an illusion, whether it's in China or in Norway, people respond in the exact same way because smiles, gasps and laughs are all universal. There's nothing like knowing you've amazed a person when you can't speak the same language. A big reason why I chose this career is because magic is one of the only things that can easily cross those barriers and bring people together.

Photos: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
 
Jason Bishop Thumb Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but this show is so delightful! Back by popular demand after last season's sold-out run, Jason Bishop returns with even more tricks (and wry one-liners) up his sleeve. Get your tickets to Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic today!
 
 
Posted by Beth Henderson

To kick off our three-part series celebrating the launch of the Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby, we sat down with Vice President of Operations Jessica Baker Vodoor to talk about the exciting features you can expect in our new and improved space!

What spurred this renovation?
 
The New Victory team had a collective dream—to take our previously bland and uninviting lobbies and create a place that audiences would want to come with their families before the show or linger afterwards. We formed a lobby vision committee and we discussed all the things that could be improved. 
 
The new space needed to reflect the vibrancy of the incredible programming that lives on our stage. Our goal was to make it warm, inviting, family friendly, but also sophisticated, smart and tailored to our programming needs. On top of all that, we wanted practical improvements, like better bathrooms, a more functional gift shop area and a more friendly and accessible space for audiences of all abilities. We wanted the public space to be a place that sparked the imagination—a joyous, spirited, bold place to create memories and collective experiences for families. 
 
What aspect of the new lobby are you most excited about?

I think I'm most excited about the Jack and Lew Rudin Lobby (formerly named Lew's Lobby). Prior to our renovation, this space was a big, empty and dark two-room hall, with no place to sit and a dated ADA lift that was undersized and had difficulty accommodating modern wheelchairs. Our fabulous pre- and post-show activities were stuck in what felt like a back room. The room didn't match our needs, programs or personality. Now, the room has been completely transformed!

A Shot of Our New Lobby
 
What were the top three amenities you knew that we needed to include?

First and foremost—we needed contemporary restrooms. Our old bathrooms were built before modern energy codes were updated and, to be frank, they were also cold and colorless. Now, our bathrooms are both colorful and state-of-the-art, with water-saving and auto-flushing sink and toilet fixtures, sanitary hand-drying and faucet facilities and stalls which are sensitive to privacy. We anticipate the new hand-dryers will reduce the number of paper towels our theater throws away each year to less than 10,000—previously we disposed of 250,000 paper towels every season. We know that the hand-dryers may be an adjustment for some families, so it was also important to us that they could be deactivated and replaced with towels for our Autism-Friendly performances. The fixtures allow for this and we're happy with the flexibility they provide us. 

We also desperately needed more places to sit and a new food service area. With the installation of a beautifully designed cafe, plus several group seating areas, some creative undulating benches and flexible furniture pieces in the Jack & Lew Rudin Lobby, we now have a space where families can relax, eat, explore and spend wonderful quality time together. 
 
Finally, we are thrilled about the removal of the old and undersized ADA lift in the Jack & Lew Rudin lobby. It has been replaced with a beautiful new ramp that frames the lobby and makes our public engagement activities easy to reach for patrons of all abilities. 

A Shot of Our New Lobby

What inspired the color scheme throughout the lobby spaces? 

We actually struggled for many months to find the right look and feel for the lobby. It all came together when our architects Ariel Fausto and Nathan Rittgarn suggested the warm, white oak that can be seen throughout, and also the beautiful felt product line called FilzFelt. Paula Scher of Pentagram (who also designed our new logo) saw this material and was inspired to create the work of art that is now gracing our fabulous orchestra entry wall. With the invention of this original artwork, the color scheme of the lobby came to life. Suddenly the palette fell into place and the new lobby colors now create a warm, inviting and sophisticated environment that all New York families will love and feel at home in. 

Can you take us through how you decided on the materials? We're not walking on carpet anymore!
 
Our architects, Ariel and Nathan, guided this process. There were weeks where we were surrounded by colors and textures…this was some of the most fun we had! We focused on the patron experience and identified materials that felt sophisticated but not slick, warm but not cartoony. The floor (it's made from recycled tires!) was selected because it's environmentally-friendly, warm, soft, easy to clean and vibrantly colorful. It was actually a very complicated process, but in the end everything came together beautifully. 

 

Vice President of Operations Jessica Baker Vodoor Vice President of Operations Jessica Baker Vodoor Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
What was it like to be in charge of such a large project? Did the project hit any snags?
 
I love managing projects and especially one that is driven by such unified goals. I think our biggest challenge was figuring out how to introduce technology into the space without letting it become the "be-all, end-all" of the space. We have beautiful new screens that support, but do not replace the activities. The focus is all about family experiences. This took us awhile to figure out, but we realized that our education staff knew best about exactly what we need to support our public engagement activities. We didn't need a digital sculpture for the "cool factor"—we needed a set of digital tools that our staff could use to enrich and support the family activities. After looking high and low, speaking to consultants and even working with some technology designers, we returned to the idea that what we needed was tools. So, we formed an in-house team of staff members from different departments and started analyzing how we could use technology to amplify our family activities. The going was tough, but now we can't wait for our audiences to experience what we have in store for them!  

What three words would you use to describe the New Victory lobby of 2016?
 
Dark, boring, old-fashioned
 
What three words would you use to describe the New Victory lobby of 2017?
 
Vibrant, energetic, warm
 
Jason Bishop Thumb Don't be a stranger! Visit the new lobby when you join us for Jason Bishop: Believe in MagicBack by popular demand after last season's sold-out run, Jason returns with even more tricks (and wry one-liners) up his sleeve.

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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