~ William Bernbach
As one progresses through life, from that of an infant through to adulthood, various experiences and numerous people will influence us in a myriad of ways (for better or for worse), the effects of which we may be unaware at the time. But some of those "experiences" or "influences" can have a profound effect on us, an effect that can last a lifetime.
Following is a list of some of the individuals who have had a profound effect on me, who have helped me to become who I am today, and who have either directly or indirectly inspired me to create and present my dream, Robert LAMAR's The GIFT™. To each and every one of them I offer my sincere thanks. And they are...
First and foremost, my wife, Anne, and our children, Connor and Shayla. I have put you through so much over the years, more than I should have, to pursue my dream. It hasn't always been easy, but for your continued patience, I sincerely thank you! And I love you all very much.
Of course, my parents. They have been encouraging and supportive through the years—through good and bad. Oh, and they also introduced me to the conjuring arts by purchasing for me a Marshall Brodien TV Magic Kit that started the proverbial ball rolling. Without that kit, it is highly unlikely that I would be involved in what I'm doing today.
To John & Roxanne Talbot for their generosity and support throughout the years. John, being an extremely creative and talented magician (and marketing executive), and Roxanne, also an equally creative talent, provided me with ample inspiration—and a lot of laughs and great memories—in my own creative journey.
To Peter & Coral Reveen. Sadly, Peter passed away April 8, 2013. I first saw the Reveen show in 1975 at the age of twelve. I was blown away by what I had seen and wanted to do what Reveen was doing. Little did I know that just a scant six years later I would have the opportunity to, not only meet Peter Reveen, but also become friends with him and his lovely wife. It was a friendship that continued for over 30 years. Although he didn't "take me under his wing and teach me everything he knew," he did impart a lot of knowledge and wisdom to me through the years. I considered him my friend and mentor. My goal from the beginning was not to fill Reveen's shoes, but rather, to be worthy enough to some day be able to place my shoes next to his. Because of Reveen's influence and inspiration, we created a performance called Robert LAMAR's Theatre of the MIND™, a show we presented for over 25 years. Thank you, Reveen, for EVERYTHING. All my best to Peter & Coral's son, Tyrone Reveen, for so ably carrying on the family legacy and keeping his father's memory alive.
Conjuror, escapologist, and skeptic extraordinaire, James "The Amazing" Randi, more than anyone else, taught me how to think. He has had such a profound impact on my life it truly is—living up to his moniker—amazing! It was a real honour to have finally met this legend back in September of 2011. At that time I, along with my Show Director, Richard Bonner, were afforded the opportunity to spend some quality time with Randi where I was finally able to thank him personally for all he has done for me.
There were a few individuals who helped me when we first put a show together, back in 1991. John Talbot, Allen Murphy, Todd Masters, Steve Vincent, and Terry Hearn. Ah, yes! Those were the days of coffin-shaped cabinet speakers, Noma floodlights screwed to a piece of 2 X 4, and a lot of bravado. It may have not looked pretty, or sounded good, but at least we tried. And with every new venture, you have to start somewhere. Thanks for your help, support, and belief in those early days.
When I first had the idea for Robert LAMAR's Theatre of the MIND™ I gathered together a number of talented individuals to see if they would be interested in embarking on this journey with me. Richard Bonner, John McKeage, Steve Gracie, Ruth Leggett, Trevor MacDonald, and Aaron Peck all joined forces to help me launch this juggernaut of an idea. It was a lot of hard work with very little pay, but it was a blast! The laughs we had, especially during the creative process, are some of the best memories. In particular, I MUST single out Richard. Richard Bonner has truly been my right-hand man. His knowledge, work ethic, creativity, patience, and commitment to me AND the show has been nothing short of amazing and inspiring. There is absolutely no way I could have gone as far as I have if it wasn't for Richard. I can never thank him enough. He's not just a colleague, I consider him one of my best friends. Along with Richard, Trevor and Aaron have incredibly—but thankfully—remained part of the team; but to all of the original crew, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
For everyone that attends Robert LAMAR's Theatre of the MIND™, they will hear an individual that helped us out at the very inception of this show, but who, although a very talented individual, is someone they probably will never meet. Rick Walker, aided by his deep, crisp, clear, resonant voice—a voice that reminds one of classic radio from way back when—"welcomes" every audience prior to the start of each performance. Before stepping out onto the stage each night I listen to Rick's voice, and it inspires me, excites me, gets me ready to step out from behind the curtain. And for having done this for us, I am forever grateful.
I'd also like to extend thanks to another creative individual who helped me immensely early on—Brenda Hoddinott. With her camera and her skills at capturing "moments," Brenda was responsible for taking many a photograph—photographs that would be used for promotional purposes. For her time, patience, and attention to detail, many, many thanks.
To the late Gary Ouellet. He was an incredible individual: a lawyer, musician, magician, television producer, creative consultant, manager. Not only was he best friends with Peter Reveen, but, for several years, he was Business Manager and Creative Consultant to David Copperfield. Very well respected and sought after for his creative genius within the magic community, Gary spent many an hour with me discussing our production, Robert LAMAR's Theatre of the MIND™. In fact, several of the finesses within our show are Gary's ideas. For Gary's time and efforts, and for his inspiration, and "touch of magic" applied to our performance, I am ever grateful.
To my Grade 10 English teacher, Mr. Gabe Fishman. In all seriousness, if it wasn't for Mr. Fishman, I am confident that I would not be doing what I am doing today. Back then I was extremely shy. For a mandatory class presentation I thought I would perform a bit of magic—something I had never done before in front of an audience—an audience larger than one, that is. Being extremely nervous didn't help. To say I bombed the day of the presentation would be an understatement. After class, and after that less than inspiring performance, Mr. Fishman talked with me for about ten minutes and encouraged me to try again in one week, which, with great hesitation, I did. The second time around, things went much better. If Mr. Fishman hadn't talked with me and hadn't urged me to regroup, I sincerely doubt that I would ever have tried performing again. And for doing what you did, Mr. Fishman, I am eternally grateful.
To someone I jokingly considered—and called—my second "mother", Judy Ballah. A high school teacher who taught theatre, Ms. Ballah was the first to introduce me to that world. Her tips, techniques, and suggestions helped me to begin to think in a theatrical manner: from stage management to blocking, voice projection to movement. In short, how a performer should perform on a stage. Thanks for the laughs, the wonderful memories, and the skill set.
I must also thank the alter ego of the Supervisor of the Sunnyvale Trailer Park, Mr. Jim Lahey (John Dunsworth). Back when I was in high school, long before Trailer Park Boys was even an idea, John was well known within the local theatre and entertainment community. On this particular day, John was offering advice to high school theatre students that were participating in an annual high school theatre event that took place in my hometown. After seeing me perform, John provided me with invaluable tips and suggestions that I have carried with me to this day. This was my first encounter—the first of what would be many encounters—with John. I have never forgotten that initial sage of advice, nor his many comments and suggestion that he imparted through the years. Many, many thanks.
To my friend, fellow magician, and incredible artist, Dave Leonard. I am forever grateful to Dave for all the time and energy he spent through the years designing posters for our show. He is an incredible talent, both on the canvas and with his skills of prestidigitation. I really do appreciate EVERYTHING you have done.
To Eric McDow (an awesome drummer, by the way), I thank you, for designing one of our posters.
To the late gentleman of the playing cards, The Charming Cheat, Martin A. Nash. A wizard with cards, Martin had a profound impact on my approach to magic. Although we had never met in person, I was very fortunate to have had several lengthy conversations with him via telephone. The information he shared was priceless.
Another magician, and friend, the late Pavel Pomezný. Pavel was best known for his mastery of the ropes, for creating and selling original effects to magicians worldwide, and for being able to boast, though he never did, that he had made three guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show to present his unique brand of magic. I will never forget the evening that my wife and I had spent with him over dinner. Many lessons were learned from that one sitting—lessons I think about to this day.
Peter Samelson is one of those rare magicians who presents magic beautifully and theatrically. His thinking behind his performance is inspiring. Back in 1989, along with my wife and fellow magician, Greg Gidney, we were afforded the opportunity to spend a weekend with Peter. It was an incredible experience. Peter changed the way I approached my magic, thought about my magic, and performed my magic. And, although he doesn't know it, he was also responsible, indirectly, for inspiring me to name our show, Robert LAMAR's Theatre of the MIND™. When we first met Peter Samelson, the show he was touring with at the time was called, "Theater of Illusion." I loved that. It said so much with so little; and it truly described the theatrical nature of his performance. So, Peter, thank you for inspiring me to think and act and present in a "theatrical" manner. You continue to inspire to this day.
Many other magicians have influenced and inspired me through the years, to varying degrees. In alphabetical order, they are: David Acer, Don Alan, Theodore Annemann, Michael Ammar, Theodore Annemann, Harry Blackstone, Jr., Derren Brown, Lance Burton, Mike Caveney, David Copperfield, Tony Corinda, Paul Daniels, Gary Darwin, Joseph Dunninger, Paul Gertner, Brian Gillis, Albert Goshman, Paul Harris, Doug Henning, Harry Houdini, Kevin James, Luke Jermay, Kreskin, Henry Lewis, Harry Lorayne, Ed Marlo, Max Maven, Jon Racherbaumer, Tony Slydini, Jim Steinmeyer, Dai Vernon, Michael Weber, Mark Wilson, Hans Zahn, and Dick Zimmerman.
In 1989 I helped to create a local magic club called The Conjurors' Court—a club which continues to exist to this day. The inklings for the club originated in my parent's basement when I was but a teen (back in 1978), when several magicians would meet for an evening of magic and camaraderie. Over time, as the group matured, and more members were added, we eventually outgrew the various residential basements that we would inhabit. It was then, eleven years later, that the "magic gathering" moved to a larger commercial venue and morphed into what would ultimately be called, The Conjurors' Court. The regular meetings with fellow magicians help to inspire and encourage one to better themselves in this most ancient of arts. For many years the meeting of mages provided much inspiration for me, and to all of them I am forever grateful. As with any organization, members have come and gone. Though I fear I may forget some, for which I do apologize in advance, I would like to thank the following individuals for their friendship and fellowship during my time attending The Court: Lorne Astle, Richard Bonner, Earl Casey, Jeff Collins, Doug Creamer, Lynn Crowell, Russ Dumont, Rod Doiron, Steve Elve, Greg Gidney, Michael Gillis, Fred Hall, James Hanson, Nigel Harrison, Louie Hazel, Terry Hearn, Walter "Hoppy" Hopkins, Michael James, Doug Leahy, David MacFarlane, David Moon, Mike Northrop, Robert Poole, Clifford Saulnier, Dr. Merv Shaw, Ian Stewart, Dr. Srinivasa Swaminathan, John Talbot, Steve Turner, Beth VanGorder, Bill VanGorder, Steve Vincent, Phil Wilkinson, and Bill Wood. Thank you for sharing YOUR time, YOUR talents, and YOUR magic!
To Karen Twaddle, who patiently, and with "magic" skills of her own, attempts to make me look respectable (when I had hair). As I'm always reminded, though, Karen is a beautician NOT a magician. With a client like me, I tend to disagree.
To Cathy MacPhee, who babysat many a time, even on short notice, so I could go and do what needed to get done.
To my long-time friend and fellow mage, Bill Jackman and his lovely wife, Lori. Bill helped us to kick-off, what would be both, our initial tour to get this ship-a-sailing AND our last tour before transitioning to our new show, Robert LAMAR's The GIFT™. He, along with his team, also designed, what would be, our last poster for Robert LAMAR's Theatre of the MIND™. For everything that was done, I am forever grateful.
When we started this latest project, Robert LAMAR's The GIFT™, a few additions were added to the team, Robert McMahon, Todd Masters, and Katie Graham. None of what we are doing today—and I do mean NONE—would have been possible without their initial efforts. They basically helped get the ball rolling for this whacky idea that I had. And for that, I can't thank you enough.
Sadly, due to other commitments, Robert McMahon and Katie Graham had to leave our project. Todd Masters, Richard Bonnor, and myself moved forward. Along the way, as the project developed, we slowly starting adding key individuals whose talents and creative abilities were needed to help me—to help us—bring Robert LAMAR's The GIFT™ to fruition. And this production would not have been possible without the incredible time and efforts that these peoiple put into this production. There is absolutely no way I could have done this on my own. So, with that being said, a HUGE THANK YOU to the following people who I am proud to, not only call colleagues and partners, but friends. In alphebetical order: Richard Bonner, Stephen Dempster, Gerry Frenette, Lowell S. Furhman, Todd Masters, Peter Samelson, Kevin Sollows, Ron Ulrich, Steve Vincent, Suzy Vincent, Rick Walker, Bobby Warren and Wendi Breese Warren. What can I say for all the sweat equity you have invested in this project? For helping me realize a dream? I am so proud of what we have been able to create together. And for that, all I can say is, THANK YOU for your time, THANK YOU for your efforts, THANK YOU for sharing your talents! The future looks great and I look forward to sharing it with you.
And, finally, to YOU, those individuals who have given of your time and your hard-earned money, to experience first hand, either our earlier project, Robert LAMAR's Theatre of the MIND™, or our latest venture, Robert LAMAR's The GIFT™, I am truly humbled. Without you, there would be no show. And for giving me the opportunity to present my dream child to you, I, along with my entire team, am and are forever thankful. Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!