Center on the Square is hoping that a little magic will help make some of its hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic go away.
Board chair Cathy Liles said Center on the Square “has just got back on its feet” after having to close for a year due to the pandemic. She said the community theater had a full time staff member and had to let her go. “Because we couldn’t stay open, we closed it.”
Since then, “we have done an outdoor play in the Citizen Park area” and other parks in the city, she said. “We just finished ‘Shrek [Jr.], ‘our first intern, I think. … We really try to have money in our coffers because we are all volunteers and the only money we make is on ticket sales, so if we don’t have a theater, we don’t do money. So for a year we didn’t do anything. “
This weekend, that changes again with two “family” magic shows. The shows, called “Christmas Magic,” will take place at 7 pm Friday and Saturday at the theater at 219 W. Arch Ave. All proceeds will go to Center on the Square. Tickets are available on centeronthesquare.ticketspice.com.
Jon Bucher, 80, is producing the shows to be presented by the Searcy Magic Society. Bucher’s wife, Susan, a longtime music teacher who retired from the Searcy school district in July, will be the mistress of ceremonies.
“There will be a lot of kids in the audience who will recognize her, I hope,” said Jon Bucher. “She’s probably taught half the kids we know in town.”
He said there will be six more artists, but although the band is called the Searcy Magic Society, “the funny thing is … there aren’t any artists from Searcy. in shows because we don’t have any members from Searcy. We have members from Brinkley, Conway, Little Rock, Augusta … we have the former mayor of Augusta going to perform for us. He’s hilarious. “
Bucher said each show will be 90 minutes long with an intermission.
Adult tickets cost $ 15, $ 10 for seniors, and $ 8 for students. “The theater is decorated like Christmas and we hope that if the ticket sales go well we can have some cocoa,” Liles said. Bucher said there would also be balloons for the children. “I get bags of treats for every child so we really can’t wait to be there.”
Bucher, who was “a stern introvert at school” when he was 14, said he accidentally got his hands on a magic book from the school library in Wichita, Kan. “Once you are bitten by the magic virus, there is no way to cure it.
When he was starting out in magic growing up in Kansas, he said, “I wasn’t very good back then because I didn’t have any mentors. All I had were books I could get my hands on and it wasn’t until I left school and grew a little bit – I think I was 21 or 22 – and that I discovered an International Brotherhood of Magicians ring in Wichita, Kan. “
He joined the Wichita branch, Ring 47, “and it continued because I got better and better because I worked there a lot.
When he started doing magic, Bucher said his first trick was done for his family. “It just so happens that recently there was a magician named Jason Hudy at Harding University, just a few months ago I went to see him and it turns out he performed a version of the very first trick. that I never performed when I was 14 years old. I found that hilarious. “
When all the magicians start, Bucher says they throw a lot of birthday parties. “We all have birthday parties and if you’re good enough you could move on to corporate picnics, corporate things.”
He said he eventually “specialized in close-range magic.” The Little Rock club had organized the international fellowship of the International Brotherhood of Magicians competition and there were 1,500 people from all over the world and I participated in the close-up competition that they have every year at the conventions. That year, 1975, I won.
One of the things Bucher has done and loved from a young age is trade shows. “There are tons of magicians who organize trade shows and casino shows. My wife, I, and another friend of mine performed for four years at the Merv Griffin Theater in Metropolis, Illinois. It was awesome. It was so much fun working with a professional crew and a full scene. “
Bucher said that with a magic club in Jonesboro “for 13 years, we put on a 90 minute Halloween show every Halloween. It was awesome and sold out every year. It was all these club members. , none of them were professional, they were all amateurs. The real name of an amateur is not someone who is not very good, but someone who loves his sound so much. job he’s doing it just for the sake of doing it. “
He said the magicians who will be at Center on the Square will be happy to perform again as many magicians have not worked for about two years due to COVID-19.
Residents must “come to the show to open the Christmas season,” Bucher said. “It’s going to be Christmas. Everyone over there is going to bring home something they didn’t come with. It’s going to be fun and mysterious and Christmas, colorful; it’s great.”
The venue has around 100 patrons and Bucher said that was the reason they were doing the show for two nights.
In addition to hoping to have a full house for each show, Liles said Center on the Square is always on the lookout for community members who want to get involved in directing, acting, sound lighting, accessories, management, management team (behind the scenes), construction decor, hairstyle / make-up, costumes, marketing (posters), house management, door reception and scrapbooking.
“Searcy is fortunate to have a community theater,” she said. “It takes the whole community to be successful. Actors, directors, technicians, board members, costume designers, set builders, makeup artists – all are volunteers.”
Liles said last year Center on the Square “celebrated our 20th year, I believe, during COVID.” He was going to have a “20th anniversary” but “couldn’t because of COVID”. Now for his 21st year, he has some magic up his sleeve.