Magic On The Coast
06/05/2017 06:37PM ● Published by Manda Koolis
When Jeanette Andrews was four years old, she saw a Siegfried & Roy TV special and decided, “That’s it. That’s what I’m going to do.” She got a magic set for Christmas, practiced and practiced, and performed her first show for her preschool class. Two years later she went professional, performing her first paid show at the age of six for a local park district in the suburbs of Chicago.
“It was for a day camp of four-year-olds,” Jeannette recalls. “It went great. I was so excited!" That first job paid her $10, which is monumental for a six-year-old. “I told my mom I made $10 and, because I wanted a magic book that cost $20, my mom said, ‘This is so amazing; let’s figure out how to get you paid another $10 so you can buy the book.’ My parents supported me and my career in every way humanly possible.”
Throughout Jeanette’s childhood, magic was her focus. She did as many shows as she could and “practiced like crazy.” She did shows for community organizations, festivals, and retirement communities, just trying to get out there and perform as much as she could and get as much experience as possible. While other children were taking piano lessons, Jeanette took magic lessons. It’s all she wanted to do, and it’s all she did.
Also at a very young age, Dr. Julian Pittman performed his own magic shows for family and friends. He loved using his imagination. He performed magic tricks and juggling for his school talent shows and won them all. He went to a show at Busch Gardens and saw magician Mark Wilson and juggler Albert Lucas perform a show on ice. Watching them inspired him to combine their two art forms for his own performances and to go into live entertainment himself. As a teen, he worked at Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens where he continued to gain exposure entertaining live audiences through dance, music, magic, and juggling. Today, Julian’s act, called Pittman Magic, is a husband-and-wife show that includes his talented wife, Melody.
“When I first met my wife-to-be, I failed to mention that I did magic and juggling because I was afraid of what she would say,” Julian recalls. “Let’s face it, ‘I juggle and perform illusions’ is not the best pick-up line.” But eventually, he couldn’t resist including her in his show.
Melody was no stranger to entertainment either. Her parents took her to see Annie when she was very young and from then on, she wanted to be on stage. She began dance lessons at a very young age and loved it. Her family also encouraged her passion with classic movie musicals with lots of dance numbers such as Singin’ In the Rain and West Side Story. She continued dancing with performance and competitive teams well into her adult years. “I remember when Julian first taught me how to do a few grand stage illusions,” says Melody. “He was incredibly impressed with my quickness at memorizing the ins and outs of what had to happen and when.”
No doubt about it, magic is fascinating. The shows compel us, intrigue us, wow us. Each of these performers was captivated by magic at a very young age. They saw performances live and on screen and were fascinated. They wanted to perform, wanted more experience, and wanted an audience!
They were encouraged every step of the way, from their parents and teachers to their peers and audiences, and they grew in their craft to become the successes they are today.
Alissa Clifton’s own love of drama started at a young age when her father cast her in a church play and continued through high school as she participated in drama classes, performances and competitions. As an adult, she has been involved in community performances throughout the years as a performer, writer, and director. As the director of Drama Kids of Northwest Florida, she recognizes the appeal magic has for young ones and their desire to perform. “It’s amazing to watch a child develop the confidence to speak or perform in front of an audience,” she says. “Some kids are polishing their skills but for others, the difference is dramatic.”
Perhaps you have a budding magician in your life you would like to encourage. One terrific venue for your young magician is Magic Camp! This summer, Drama Kids is offering two Magic Camps for kids ages 6-12, one at Rosemont Baptist Church in Niceville June 12-16 and the other at Crafts Happen in Destin June 19-23. Wizards and magicians of all skills will act out magical scenes, play fun theater games, learn all kinds of magic tricks and end with a fantastic show for family and friends. Camp is limited to the first 24 students and you can register at www.dramakidsnwf.com or by calling 850-737-0413.
Jeanette is now a summer regular at the Seaside Repertoire Theatre. “I got my start at Seaside doing an artist residency called Escape to Create in January 2014,” Jeanette recalls. “It was the most influential experience of my life. I worked on research on magic for the five senses, and that is the work I have been focused on and have based my entire career on since.”
Jeanette’s show is out-of-the-box in terms of what people think of as magic shows. Her performances are interactive and centered around magic for the senses. The entire audience is involved in creating the show every step of the way. “It is not a passively-watched show, as their decisions and choices influence the show,” she emphasizes. “Much of what I do is all geared toward older kids, teens and adults, creating a smaller scale, more intimate experience.” To learn more about Jeanette and her performances, please visit http://jeanetteandrews.com.
The Pittmans recently hosted their first Destin Magic Dinner Theatre at La Paz Restaurant in Destin. The Destin Magic Dinner Theatre is a family-friendly night out that includes dinner and the Pittmans’ very own world-class award-winning show. Each show features multiple large-scale Las Vegas-style illusions, comedy and close-up magic, daring escapes, balancing acts, juggling acts, and more. After the show, the Pittmans host a meet-and-greet session where guests can share their favorite moments from the show and get autographs and their photos taken with the Pittmans.
“We are doing what we love and doing it with love,” Julian says. “If we can help to make people forget troubles in their everyday lives, laugh, smile, and have a good time, then we have done our job. It’s a lifelong passion.” And their passion has paid off as the Pittmans just recently won The International Magician's Society "Merlin Award" for 2017! This award is to magic what the Oscar is to movies. Previous recipients include David Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, and Penn and Teller. To learn more about the Pittmans or to book them to entertain at your next special event, visit PittmanMagic.com. Be sure to like them on Facebook for more performance dates and locations. To attend a dinner theater performance, visit DestinMagicDinnerTheater.com to make your online reservations. If you are celebrating a special event or occasion, be sure to mention that when you make your reservation for a chance to be part of their show!
Magic abounds on the Emerald Coast, and everyone can be touched by it, whether by watching a performance, being a part of an interactive audience, or by learning the craft and becoming a part of magic On The Coast.