May 30, 2024

Heading Back To The Salem Ohio Community Theatre

by Jason Alan

Returning to my hometown of Salem, Ohio to perform is an interesting experience.  Here you are… back where you came from showing people you’ve known forever your magic tricks.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It is... but also completely nerve wracking!

Before we begin, lets talk about Salem. I graduated from there in 2002, my family still lives there, and I don’t live far away.  Salem is the place where I played sports, made friends and learned magic.  It’s also a place full of history. 

I remember being in class at Reilly school when we started learning about Salem’s history.  The houses we passed on Lincoln, those were homes on the underground railroad.  The first women’s rights convention was held in Salem and JFK found the need to stop and speak at Reilly stadium just weeks before he was elected president.  Salem is full of stories people sometimes forget to tell. 

JFK Visits The Valley and Salem Ohio

I see it as a small town that’s in the process of revitalizing itself into something it once was. My summers as a child were spent downtown at the jubilee, the annual street fair put on by the city. I loved every minute of it.  And Friday evenings… I can still see the band marching down Ohio Ave past my house to enter the stadium.  Do they still do that?  These are the memories I have of my hometown.

Reilly Stadium Salem, Ohio

Each time I go home I find something new to explore.  The downtown is starting to remind me of what it must have been like during the heydays of the city. Salem is starting to look like the town I remember.

So…back to me and my magic.  I can’t go 2 paragraphs without talking about myself… sorry.

I always had a love for magic. I started when I was 13 and learned every trick I could find just to show my friends and family.  Performing small tricks for one person at a time is one thing, taking that to the stage…that’s another.   

Around 2007, I became involved with the Salem Community Theatre. It’s an amazing 300 seat theater that shares a spot in history with the rest of the town.  My parents tell me about seeing old movies there before it was turned into a performing theatre.  I was asked to emcee a variety show put on by the community actors. Think Saturday Night Live but actually funny.  It was my first time being around a group of creative people who came up with something they just had to get out into the world. 

Salem Ohio Community THeatre

I was asked to emcee the show and had to come up with 10 new tricks that would work on a stage.  I was terrified, I was nervous and I was immediately hooked.

From what I can remember, things went well.  Some tricks worked, some didn’t, and I didn’t pass out. That’s a habit of mine when I talk in front of people or seeing needles.  Afterwards I had somehow conned them into letting me do a one man show I called, “The Evolution of a Comedy Magician” They were all in!

Salem Ohio Show Evolution of a comedy magician

I owe a lot of my current success to the that first big stage show break at The Salem Community Theatre. I learned so much about being on stage. I learned what to do and what not to do, how to take risks and when to pull back. Most importantly I learned what it would take to do this for a living. 

Over the next few years, I would return to the community theatre’s stage and perform an updated version of my show.  This became a tradition which Stacy would start to enjoy too.  I’m sure the nerves are different for her. 

The reason I bring all of this up is the fact that the experience I gained from performing in Salem has been a huge reason why I have been able to make a career out of this.  The support we get from my hometown is one of the major reasons I have had more opportunities as a performer than most.  Salem is a place full of people who won’t hesitate to tell you if they like something or if they don’t.  Constructive criticism is the best way to grow as a creative person, more of that is needed in the world.

This weekend we are returning to The Salem Community Theatre to perform an updated version of our show which has taken us around the world.  Within the last 2 years we have had the pleasure of working on dozens of cruise ships while visiting a handful of countries.  We’ve been given an opportunity to make our show better.  The one thing I always look forward to is being back on the Community Theatre’s stage. 

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