Follow YOUR Dreams - Branson Magician's Inspirational Story
There is no doubt that Rick Thomas is a world class illusionist and he takes you on a journey through his life as he encourages you to follow your dreams. That is why he built the Mansion of Dreams. Discover not only how wonderful his magic show is in Branson MO, but also how he grew up to be the famous magician he is today.
You can get tickets to see him at: https://www.mansionofdreams.net/
You can purchase his book, The Tiger Whisker: Nothing Happens Until You Dream!: https://amzn.to/3Qvl7HT
Our sponsor theater, the Americana Theater, is also offering 50% off all regular tickets
Get 50% off all our regular shows using Promo Code: BBS
#BransonMO #Branson #Magic #RickThomas #Illusionist #FollowYourDreams
Matthew Boyce 0:00
Hi everybody. I'm Matthew Boyce.
C.J. Newsom 0:01
I'm CJ Newsom, and welcome to Branson's best shows.
Matthew Boyce 0:06
This week on the podcast, we are joined by magician Rick Thomas from Andy Williams theater mansion of dreams here in Branson, Missouri. We're so thrilled to have him here. Rick, thank you so much for coming out and joining us this evening and doing the podcast with us.
Unknown Speaker 0:19
You're letting everybody know it's this evening. They know how late it is. This pocket, it's late, like late it's going on to 11 o'clock at night. So you better be listening.
Matthew Boyce 0:29
And we're going on for the next six hours. You guys better strap in for this long form interview fill out,
Unknown Speaker 0:34
we're ready to rock.
Matthew Boyce 0:35
Now I want to start basic. I want to start easy, but I want to know what brought you to brands and what got you interested in the area of brands in which is not beforehand? What set your eyes here?
Rick Thomas 0:46
I have no idea. I actually do. Start with Jimmy Azzaman. They were Osmonds were performing over at the casino in Vegas. And I literally called me to the show. And he said what are you doing? And I was actually between shows I just finished performing at the Stardust. We imploded, the Stardust and we were building out another hotel. And I was getting ready to go out on tour go to Asia, Japan and Korea. And he said, Have you ever thought of coming out to Branson? And I said no. And in fact, I even bring it up in the show. I share with everybody how I got out to Branson. And and I literally say as I look at you directly. I never plan on being here. I never plan on performing here or even driving through the area. But after the first season, I fell in love with Branson, and after eight years, I still call Branson home. So leaving Vegas, of course, I was in Las Vegas performing there for 15 straight years, and then moved the show to Branson and we've had a blast I still perform in Vegas, a month or two a year. I'll be there next season, February, March. And then of course back here to reopen our season 2023.
Matthew Boyce 1:57
Awesome. Now, did the show start with managing dreams? Or did it lead to what was your first project that you started with?
Unknown Speaker 2:03
My first show was the show I had been doing consistently for for many years, I'd always changed out the illusions. I had dancers in the show. My background is ballroom dancing. And so dancing and production is a big part of what I do. But I will years ago 20 years ago I was as I was traveling the world, I realized that people were talking about who I was more than the magic I was performing, like what do you do when when you're not doing your show or what Who are you really because when they see somebody on stage, they don't, until they maybe after the show, get a chance to shake your hand and find out if you're the same person that you were on stage. They don't know. And I wanted to create an event or something that I can invite people to, so that they could see me for who I am, and have a big party. And the idea was, let's create a mansion and invite everybody to my home. And and just have a big evening together and share with everybody all the rooms of the home. And that's why as we traverse through the mansion of dreams, he gets to see all these different illusions throughout the mansion. So it makes sense. So there's, there's a reason why the magic is being presented. So often in the world of magic today. All you see is a magician going out there doing a an illusion or a piece of magic and then doing another illusion, or doing a piece of magic. And I say that plainly. And I don't mean to but that's almost what it is. It makes them disappear, then it makes them appear then he transfers them somewhere else. And I wanted the story to have, I wanted the show to have a story. And so the mansion of dreams is all about following your dreams. And the theme of the show is nothing happens until your dream.
Unknown Speaker 3:46
No, I was nice.
Matthew Boyce 3:48
I gotta say I saw the show at Andy Williams. I saw it at Shanghai. So different variations on the idea. And just both interpretations of the show were amazing. And hearing things in the audience talking to people at both locations. It's it's just, I've never seen I've been a huge magic purse. I've been in the magic as I was a kid. And I've never seen a show like it. It's so different. It's beautifully done. And even illusions that you see, you know, all the time even like, like the linking rings. It's just just the way that it's done. The way that it's presented is just so so well done. And I bet you hear it all the time. But man putting just into perspective, just kids and families seeing these, I guess dreams come to life seeing the rooms of the home everything I bet I just the feeling must just be uncomfortable.
Unknown Speaker 4:40
It is I can tell you now that there is a segment now in the show, where during the intermission, I bring members of the audience backstage to have a photo taken with myself, my Great Pyrenees dogs, my dancers and we all stand on the stairs of the mansion, and we take a photo and that guy As the audience during the intermission actually talk to me. And more often than not, they'll step up on the stairs, they'll grab my hand and they'll literally whisper in my ear. Wow, the magic is amazing. But your story might, whether they say it's, their children need to hear it, where it's something that's inspiring them, whatever it is. That is what I'm getting. They're telling me in the middle of my show, I've got it right. And I that I appreciate. I have so often people are saying, when they first saw it, and they said, We don't understand what, why do you do this, and I said, my whole life's been around theater, I love Broadway. Broadway just doesn't do magic tricks. They've got stories. And it's quite fascinating to see him sing the entire story. Yeah. But you've got to have something, you've got to have some depth. And the audience is not going to walk away from it, remembering it if it's just a whole bunch of tricks. And I have a saying that I've lived by my whole life, anybody can do a trick, but very few people can perform magic. And that's where the mansion of dreams comes in.
C.J. Newsom 6:01
Well, that's what I love about your show, too. Because you're, you're a fantastic entertainer. You know, you're not just a magician, you entertain people. And that's one of the main composite components of your of your shell, I think. Now, I am curious, who put together all your music and your artwork and your videos, because I love that's another part of your show that I really love as well.
Unknown Speaker 6:26
I am a control freak. And I put it all together. I don't get much sleep, I have slept my mom. When I was growing up, I thought that I had problems with my sleeping patterns, because I only slept about four or five hours a night. And she say, you're not getting enough sleep. And even to this day, she'll come out and see my show. And she'll stay at the house because you're not getting enough sleep. And I said, Well, Mom, I don't know about you. But I've gotten my whole life sleeping like this. I am constantly working on the show. I'm constantly editing, video production. I remember I did a, a an illusion. Back in Los Angeles, I grew up in Long Beach, California. And we we we rented out this old warehouse in the middle of Hollywood, brought in all these swing boom cameras. I mean, there were like six cameras on me an entire crew and was shot through the evening to do these illusions. It was an awesome experience. And the videos, they came out great. But when they were finished, I looked at them. I said to myself, I can do this, I can do what they just did. I've got that I and from that point on. I just I took it from there. Now there are times where we've got to have camera crews out there. Well, I'm on stage, I can't run the camera as well. But the point is, is even even recently, I have an illusion where I talk about glass and passing objects through a piece of glass and we call it liquid glass. Because there are those that believe that glass is a liquid not a solid because of the way it's made. So it can still be considered liquid. And I decided to the Tara my wife, she dances in the illusion. And so she dances, performing it and I shot her in a video and I wanted to play the video behind her while she was dancing at the same time. And I remember she's in my office and I'm mixing this in like this is beautiful. This is beautiful. She walks up behind she goes What are you doing that looks like that's that's not right. I go Yeah, it's gonna play behind you. It's you dancing behind yourself. And we put it up on the on the LED wall. And it is it is talked about. It is just like it's a perfect moment where the audience just enjoys Tarr and then sees her bigger than life behind herself dancing the same moves. So sometimes I get it right.
C.J. Newsom 8:48
When you were talking about video production, you got to I guess you got a story about that to something where you helped out a company with the Indiana Jones movie and blue
Unknown Speaker 9:00
water post production down there in Hollywood. I wanted to truly be part of the movie industry. So this company did post production for the Indiana Jones series the original Batman's so they had me come in and they literally were putting the company together. And I spent months splicing wire that ran through the facility so that they could edit on one inch tape, beta tape and one inch reels. This was not digital editing like we do now. And if I'm my fingers were bleeding but I was in training. Then they put me on a camera and I was a cameraman and they would go out and do commercials for the movies coming out and they'd put placed me on camera and I was buying the camera while they were shooting these commercials for television. I thought it was great. And then they were doing then they put me at the Coliseum and years back they had was called Mickey Thompson off road racing. And they had at the Coliseum in LA, and I was at the top of the Coliseum on my camera. And one of the cars they had this big old dirt track that they had built through the Coliseum almost wiped me out. It wiped the camera out, but I dodged out of the way when he lost control. And you could hear I could hear people on my headset, guys. Okay, are you okay? And I'm like 20 feet away from my headset, but I survived. And at that point, I realized I wanted to be in front of the camera rather than behind the camera. Stop dodging cars,
C.J. Newsom 10:35
especially when you're not exactly a stuntman anyway,
Unknown Speaker 10:39
but it's great training. It's critical. It's really a necessity in this world, that we live in the world of entertainment, I think, I think to be a true entertainer and to understand, basically, how you look to the public, is to know how you look to the public. And that's not just looking at the cameras and look good. But if you know the sound, if you know the lights, if you understand a little bit about the production value, if if you're talking the crew, and you can talk to him about a certain light, and you know the name of that light, rather than that up there, move that over to the left or to the right, what is that, that just doesn't work for me, you know, it's nice to know the show and know stage and being a be a part of it. I am also constantly my cast are always laughing when we go out on tour. I am really hands on with the show, I build the show. I am right there with everybody the entire day. It takes us eight hours to put a show together. When we come into a theater. And I'm there from start to finish and the crew that are at the theater will say I've never seen a performer. Do what you do in preparation for your show. He says usually had the other guys do it and you're off doing something else. And I am maybe a problem of mine. But I always wanted to make sure that nobody felt I wasn't myself willing to do what I asked other people to do.
C.J. Newsom 12:01
Yeah, I really appreciate that. Yes. Not to mention, it's your net that's on the line, you know, during these these tricks, so you can that's one way to make sure that it makes make sure it goes right
Matthew Boyce 12:11
now what's the biggest hurdle you find like on the road when you're traveling when you're playing different venues when you're touring? What's the biggest hurdle going from venue to venue? Or what's the craziness happened when you realize maybe something's different a venue or you can't get some Right? Was there ever a backup? Or
Unknown Speaker 12:27
driving the semi? Oh, good. Yeah, see, one. At one point, we couldn't get the show to the theater. And if I could have hopped in a semi truck and, and driven it there, we could have accomplished the production. So I went out and got my class a license. Now on tour, I drive the semi. So as far as the challenges for the show, this is what I do. I come in in the morning at seven or 8am in the morning, we load the show in we build out the show. We present the show then we tear the show down. i On top of that have to figure out where we're going next. And how I'm going to park the rig. It's harder than you think when you're going into new theaters. Yeah, and you're coming in the next day. And you're making phone calls and saying okay, the rigs coming in how am I going to line my rig up? How am I going to line it up with the theater? How am I getting it in? And then I'll park the semi I'll back it up to the theater and the crew of the theater come out and and tell my guys so where's Rick Thomas? I'll be getting out of the truck though. That guy dive in the truck. They go No. Where's Rick Thomas ago, that guy driving the truck. So yes, I brought it on myself. But at the same time, I appreciate the trucking industry and what they need to know. So beyond my magic, I went crazy. And now drive the truck is something else interesting. I always talk about going beyond my magic. I talk about my dreams. And now I wanted to do something beyond the magic. And that is the mansion of dreams. And one gentleman came up to me one night and he said you know what? That statement you say I know is for yourself personally. But the rest of us just want to be part of your dreams. We don't want to go beyond it. We just want to be part of it. Yeah. So it's all we I learned lessons every day people tell me what's right and wrong with my show.
Matthew Boyce 14:17
Different brands and I've met so many folks that man they they have a lot of stuff to say.
Unknown Speaker 14:25
The first thing they said to me in Branson before anybody saw the show, and they heard that I was coming in from Las Vegas. The comments were take your show and go back to Vegas. Because in Branson they didn't want a Vegas show. My show was never a Vegas show even in Las Vegas. I always said if my mother could watch the show, anybody can watch it. And and for that reason my show is it became the most successful show for families in the history of Las Vegas. Wow. So it was all about families and I knew when I came out to Branson I still needed a What did they call it? The Show Me State, right? As long as you gotta prove your worth. So for that reason, my first season was, I gotta let everybody know that I'm serious one about being in Branson and I want Branson to be a success. Not myself personally, but be part of Branson, and let them know that that's, that's what it's about. And then if I can make that a success, then I'll succeed as well.
Matthew Boyce 15:22
Yeah. Outside of Branson traveling and seeing different cities. Is Vegas a favorite? Or do you have a spot where you tour you've been before that you you always look forward to going back to
Unknown Speaker 15:33
it's always nice to go back to Vegas yearly. I know I go back there, I get to say hi to everybody. I know in the industry, it's just nice to be back in Vegas and feel alive. And and I'm going to say that even in Las Vegas, sometimes I didn't feel that way. When you do a Vegas as I did for 1520 years. And it's the same. You get up, you prepare your day, I had tigers in my show to add 15 Tigers. So you prepare your day. You do your show, you go home, you go to bed, you get up the next day. Our lives are a nine to five job, whether people think it or not as entertainers, when we're in the same theater, doing the same show every day, six nights a week, 355 days a year. Right. So it's it's, it's an amazing thing to realize that once I've done that, once I accomplished what I did in Vegas, my great joy is actually getting out on the road. It makes me feel alive. So I tell my dancers, they're so excited my cast and crew to go out on the road. Because we've been doing the show in Branson all year long. Then all of a sudden we get the trucks, we get the buses, everybody gets out there and about a month into the tour. They're like, Can we go home. So it reverses it. But it's good. You get out there you feel alive. And I can tell you when we go on to a theater and we have to build the show, perform the show, take it apart and go to the next theater. You know when you lay your head on the pillow that night that you've given an entire day of work, you've got everything you've got and sometimes being here in Branson, you can get a little lazy and I say so many people in Branson, you need to get out there and tour because it teaches you so much beyond your show here and brands.
C.J. Newsom 17:18
Yeah, what real work is I mean because we get we get so used to being able to have a place for everything and all have our props and all of our equipment and everything like that. But when you get on the road, the you don't quite know like as Matthew was saying you don't know what you're going to be dealing with. It's it's real work. Now, you mentioned tigers. What made you want to work with tigers,
Unknown Speaker 17:42
stupids, do stupid. You can't fix stupid, right? No, I was. I love animals. Birds have been in my show for ages. I even had macaws and cockatoos and they flew through the audience. And there was a point where I was performing a show out in Guam, believe it or not at a place called the sandcastle. And they required that I present a tiger in my show. Well, I knew I wanted to work with tigers, I just thought that they were an elegant creature. I think they're the most beautiful animal on earth. And at that time, in our world, it was plausible. And putting the tigers in the show. And the way I utilize them and they were part of my life. It was a big deal. And I gave them everything I gave my life savings to take care of these animals. And they really truly were part of the family for 20 years. So I got the Tigers I trained for a year at the San Diego Wild Animal Park with their trainers. They taught me everything that they could for a year before I took the Tigers out there. Then I had one of their trainers go out with me to Guam, and he spent the next six months with me there. After about a year and a half. He said, There's nothing else I can teach you, you're on your own. And from that point on, I literally became a tiger handler. And as a magician, you may think well as a magician working with tigers. The moment the tiger appears on the stage is the moment I stopped being a magician. And I start being a handler of exotic animals. The magic goes out the window because it's all about the safety. It's all about presentation to the cats and my mental state of mind. So that was a big deal. The cats were in Guam with me for five going on six years. Then I moved to the Tropicana in Las Vegas. And the Tigers came with me
C.J. Newsom 19:36
what it sounds like a very big challenge just the type just being a tiger handler like you said, you know when from the moment you walk on the stage, you've got your magic to worry about your audience, your Tiger and everything like that. What were what were some of the challenges that you faced? I mean, I'm just I'm just out of curiosity. both onstage and offstage, I guess
Unknown Speaker 19:58
first of all, they're tigers and really lucky, I still have 10 fingers. Because they are trained, but they are never tamed. And I repeated again, they're trained, they are never tamed. You can't take the while that of these animals, they're always going to be aggressive at some point. And that's why you need to constantly keep your eyes on them. And make sure that they're fed before a show that they're, they're kept calm, and that they're not agitated. I never made my Tigers jumped through fire hoops, or were two twos are, and I say that kind of in jest, but at the same time, I let them be what they were, yes, they appeared on stage. But that's it, they were just majestic. They were beautiful. And that's what I loved about the Tigers, they just beautiful. But the care that was needed the hours of care before I even brought them to the theater, and the care for the hours after I brought them back to the habitat at my home. Every night was a big deal. Two or three hours before the show. Couple hours after the show. constantly cleaning the Tigers and taking care of them. Once again. There's the Rick Thomas and me. If I'm not willing to do it myself, I don't have the right to have the Tigers. I just felt that I knew I needed to know all about them. It was my responsibility. I fed them I took care of them. I cleaned them. And that was what I did. Now. That's exhausting. That's yeah, that's it's really. And the other thing too is Tigers like to mark their territory. So if you want to talk strange going on, when you bring the Tigers into the theater, they like to spray their territory. So every night at the end of the show, we would have to literally get mops and mop down the walls of the theater stage. That did that. Just that alone. Yes. Because you needed to keep it pristine. Sure. And if you let anything go the next morning when you came in the theater. You knew somebody didn't clean the feed?
C.J. Newsom 21:54
Yeah, no. But I mean, it didn't matter if they had just been in the theater the night before that they still they still wanted to mark their territory every time they
Unknown Speaker 22:01
constant constant. And the reason they wanted to mark it as clean because we cleaned it up every day. Yeah, like, hey, wait a minute. It doesn't smell like I left it last year. Did this? Yeah. So they were constantly marking it. But we had to we had to keep it clean. And so those responsibilities are a big deal. People, like you said, you walk in here, you got your guitar, you pick it up, you tune it a little bit, and you hit the microphone. And for me, it was three hours before the show, load the tigers in the trailers, drive them to the theater, unload them, prep them for the show, then set the illusions, get the show ready. Make sure that everybody's in their place, and that everybody follows the rules.
C.J. Newsom 22:41
That's amazing. That's our Yeah, I mean, that's quite a challenge. And
Unknown Speaker 22:45
when I came out to Branson, I moved the tigers to habitat keepers of the wild in Arizona. And it was the best for them. And it was the best for me, I love my animals. But I also realized I was traveling the world a lot. And I was going out to Asia and performing. And I realized it was not the best scenario to travel with these animals and put them through this share. And when in Vegas, it was fine. They had my habitat at my my home my ranch that's very comfortable. And then moving into this beautiful reserve. That was the best thing for them as well. So that was a choice that was made. And now we have Great Pyrenees dogs.
C.J. Newsom 23:25
Absolutely. That's what I was going to ask you about next was the transition from tigers to dogs.
Unknown Speaker 23:32
It was not planned. It was not planned. I'm animals. Oh my goodness. i If you've seen my show, you know that the first line I say after I do my birds is I hate birds. It is a love hate relationship. Why? Because after 40 years of cleaning birds, you'll hate them too. So here I have the birds and then I have the Tigers. And then I took a deep breath and removed them from my life so to speak. And then I had I have a love for animals. So because I had tigers and they're massive, they're 500 pounds 600 pounds. I, I decided, well, the only animal that really fit that space is one of the biggest dogs on Earth. And those are Great Pyrenees. They're big. They're like polar bears. They don't even look like dogs. So when we make them appear on stage, I tell the audience I said these are dogs. People laugh because they look like big polar bears. So why did I put them in the show? I was hesitant. I wasn't going to put any animals back in my show. I thought you know what, I'm gonna stick with the magic. I've had enough of this in my life. It was one big chapter. Let's go to another one. And I was writing I have a newsletter every month and you can go to Rick thomas.com and sign on to go to connect Eric thomas.com and sign into my monthly newsletter. I know you probably get it. It's pretty good newsletter and it tells everything about my life including the Tigers, the dogs that might be answers just my whole life. And I asked in the newsletter, if people would respond, if I were to put the dogs in the show how they felt. And I was amazed because I usually get about 50% 40 to 50% of the people to actually open up the newsletter. You work so hard, and then not everybody looks at it. And it's the frustration and all sudden, like 80 90% people responding Yes, but the dogs and yes, but the dogs in. And I think it was because everybody has a pet dog or a pet cat. And they can relate to it. And they love their dog and their cat. Yeah. And for that reason, they had no problem with the dogs being in the show. And for that reason, I listened to the people come into the show and put the dogs in the show. Nice. So go
Matthew Boyce 25:51
really personal quick question or two quick question. But comment. So we saw the show last year, saw with Chris, Chris and Sita we went saw it and at Williams in that last year when you're at Shanghai, my parents came to town and they wanted to see what my favorite grandson shows were. So we took them around. And I said you gotta go see Rick Thomas. So we went and saw your show. And then intermission the girls came out, brought the dogs meet them or do photos. And we're in line, my family's always long line. And my brother is just staring on stage at these girls holding these dogs and just goes, Man, they're so beautiful. The dogs aren't too bad either. So that's that's that one. But I know I want to touch on your podcast, and nothing happens until you dream. Tell us a little bit about what you have going on with that.
Unknown Speaker 26:38
I have a book that I've written called the tiger whisker. And it's about it's about my whole life. And the stories that I've I've accumulated throughout my career, and taking all those stories and putting them into a book. And Tigers were a big deal in my life. So the tiger whiskers important. There was one special moment in my life, where it had to do with a tiger whisker. And that's the that would probably be one of the biggest reasons why you'd want to read the book. But I am sharing chapter by chapter of my book in the podcast. So we have 52 chapters. And there are 52 weeks in the year. And I have no idea after the first year what I'm going to do with my podcast, but for now. I've got it pretty well covered. And we haven't said the story yet about the tiger whisker if you want. If you want to, you can go check it out, you can, you can click on our link and get and get the Tiger Woods screen, go to amazon.com and go to Tiger whisker. And by the by the book there. And also, nothing happens into you. dream.com is where you'll find our podcasts and it's everywhere. It's on Apple, it's on Spotify, no matter where you listen to your podcast, it's there. And as of last week, I was told that we are number 240 on Apple of over 500,000 podcasts. So I think we're I don't know, I guess I'm saying something that people are interested in. You know what it is, it's about following your dreams. And, and nothing happens until you dream. But you got to do something with those dreams. And I've also found that if we don't join together, and dream together and work on these dreams together, it's just not going to happen. No man or woman is an island. That is a true statement. Everything that you do affects somebody else. Everything that you do or say could be remembered by somebody the rest of their life. So for me the show, and I'm going to admit it right now is more so for me than anybody else. I am not perfect. I have a troubled human being like most of us. And I tell myself, I get to tell myself off every night, I tell myself follow your dreams. Nothing happens unless you work really hard at it. You've got to keep going. You cannot stop you've got to pick yourself up and you got to keep going. winners or losers who got up one more time and tried again. And those are the kinds of things that I continue to tell myself. And yes, I'm saying it to the audience. But I've been very lucky and very blessed that I've been able to tell myself every single night. Well yeah shape up.
C.J. Newsom 29:29
You say these things so often after a while you start believing it.
Matthew Boyce 29:32
We want to take a brief second to talk about the sponsor of our podcast, the Americana theater right here on the 76 strip Toronto five West 76 Country Boulevard here in Branson, Missouri. We have so many great shows here the theater we'd love to tell you about. You can check out more information on all of our shows CJ Newsom is a classic country and comedy Elvis story of a king awesome 80s British invasion and much, much more right here on this stage Americana theater Branson and.com And if you go onto our website and put in the promo code BBs abbreviation for Branson's best shows BBs when you're purchasing your tickets, you actually get 50% off your next set of tickets here at the Americana. So go on our website, check out the deal. And we're open all year through December, we'd love to have you come out and check out our shows right here in Branson, Missouri.
C.J. Newsom 30:22
That's right. Yeah. So Rick, I noticed that in your book, you you dedicate that to your father. Can you tell us about that? I mean,
Unknown Speaker 30:33
I dedicate it to my father because he had dreams that I watched. Not come true. When I tell people to follow your dreams, I also tell people to have a plan B. Because while you're following your plan A, you've got to have something that keeps you going to take care of your own while you're trying to make those dreams a reality. Because those of us in this entertainment industry realize that if you're only out there doing our show, we couldn't pay the bills. So we have to do everything we have to be be creative. We have to come up with different ways to to protect ourselves and our families. But my dad struggled, he taught ballroom dancing. With my mother. They had a cotillion that they taught with a man named Bobby Burgess from the Lawrence Welk Show. And they had 2000 students in Southern California, and taught ballroom dancing, they also taught my family, my brothers and sisters all ballroom dancing. That's why it's part of my background. And he wanted ballroom dancing, to be a big thing. Again, and I think he was just born at the wrong time, he struggled so hard, he tried to put ballroom dancing into the Olympics. I mean, he he was he was going to meetings and, and proposing ideas about saying that it was a sport. And that never happened. He put on ballroom dance competitions wherever he could possibly go. And often, that was just the price of putting them on was overwhelming, and he couldn't profit from it. And he did everything he could to not only tell his sons and daughters, follow your dreams, don't give up on them. And I think he fulfilled his life by watching his children's dreams come true. Because so many of ours have, and a father who supported us. So even though you'll say, well, his dreams didn't come true. They did. They did because of what a great man he was and what he did for his family. Fascinating as my father passed on. And within a few years later, what happens? Dancing with the Stars, Dancing with the Stars becomes a massive hit. And all of a sudden ballroom dancing is bigger kid. So he's a good man. And he did some great things. And for that I dedicated to my father, because without him, my dreams wouldn't be reality. Yeah, he supported me massively.
C.J. Newsom 33:07
So cool. I love that. And your brothers and sisters. Did they follow closely to the ballroom dancing too? I mean, did they like was that part of their
Unknown Speaker 33:16
they did for some time. We all tried the ballroom dancing, it fits some of us better than others. And I think that that's important to look if you've ever been to Branson, I'm gonna tell you right now, when I got here with my wife, Tara, and even my son, I said, we should put my son in the show. And she said, why would you put your family in the show. And then we went and saw every show in Branson, and realized that the entire family is in every single show, in Branson. And in Vegas. That's not the case. So it was a completely different cultural shock for us. And I realized that it is about family. It is about putting them in the show. However, I also know that there are children in these shows that don't want to be in their parents show that then the kids there gets a point where they let some of them love it. And then some of them go, You know what, Dad, I'm going to be a doctor, or I'm going to be a lawyer and they go on and follow their dreams. Yeah. And it's awesome that they raised them in the industry and they raise them and they learn something, but I never want to force my life on my children. Yeah, I just want to make sure that it's there. Now my son, Brenton. He realized as he got older and became a teenager he says Hey, Dad, dad, you got to teach me some card tricks. Why? He says because the girls love it so it's through. Okay, so you want to know magic to to pick up girls right? Yeah, Dad got a piece of magic. I'd become the like the big thing at the party.
Matthew Boyce 34:52
I have made sugar from sugar packets disappear on every single first date in my entire life. And that is a true story. Same And that's how you rope them in.
Unknown Speaker 35:01
Wow. It also gets you through college. Yes, it gets you through college. I
C.J. Newsom 35:07
have absolutely nothing. No, I'm just kidding. No, tell us more about your family. Because I mean, you're you're you're giving us little dabs here and there. But I think all of our viewers want to know, you know,
Matthew Boyce 35:19
I think it's really cool story actually how you met your wife,
Unknown Speaker 35:22
Tara, she came and tried out for my show in Vegas some years ago, and my choreographer literally said, If you can't start next week, and the show, leave, and she got up and left, I am sitting literally in the audience, just by myself watching all the dancers is about 50 people trying out for the show. And she and a couple other people get up and they just start walking out. And I was watching Tara, and I said, Man, she's, she's amazing. I've never seen anybody. I'd been in Vegas by that time, at least 10 years performing my show. And I had not I've had some great dancers in the show. But there was something about her, I had to find out why she was so graceful on stage. So I chased after her and I found her and I said, Why are you leaving? Why can't you stay? She goes, I'm from Zimbabwe, born and raised there her entire life. And she flew from Zimbabwe across the world to Las Vegas to try out for shows. And the first show she tried out for was mine. She had friends in Las Vegas telling her go try out for a show, go try it for show. And she goes, but I, I I'm not ready to try out for a show in Vegas. But she flew out here and the reason why she wasn't ready. So I said, What's going to make you stay? And she said, I need a green card. She goes, my friend said, at least try out for the show. So you can see what they want in Las Vegas. And then work on your green card. And I said he getting one. She goes, yes. I said how long? She says about three or four weeks. I said well then good. I'll pay you in three weeks and then married her a few years later. Wow. And it was literally just watching her walk out of my life and having to literally grab her and bring her back in. I could have just sat there and said, Wow, she was really good. That's too bad. She can't start next week. Yeah. And she was trained. She had actually not only had left Zimbabwe, but she had actually moved to England. And she was trained in the finest ballet schools in England. And I thought okay, now it's making sense. Yeah. So she's an internationally acclaimed dancer. And she is literally the star of the show. Yeah, she can't, you can't watch that show. Without realizing that she's she's got what it takes to be a great entertainer. And she doesn't like to talk on stage. She loves to dance. And she loves that part of it. And she truly enjoys the illusions because that's taken her way beyond her dance career. But she's She's a superstar.
Matthew Boyce 37:40
You guys put on such it's such a great show. And the dancing and every I was so I was super impressed by you two together and your chemistry and the dance. It was such a cool touch the whole show tying everything together. Before we started this interview, you did mention a you had a really cool story you could share with us today about some touching moments. i really liked to hear it. Possibly could
Unknown Speaker 38:01
I preface this by telling you that my magic, I'm obsessed with my career. I have spent my life following my dreams. But at the same time, sometimes it's gotten in the way with my life. Because it's always been about my show. And I have a wonderful family. And I've I like many have had to make sure that I sectioned off my life for what's on the show, make being able to walk off stage, take the top hat off and become a dad. And one evening, I had an event called the tiger experience after our shows. And after the show in Vegas, we allow people to stay in the theater and come up and view the Tigers we'd have them in this beautiful display. And they'd come up and they'd ask questions about the Tigers. And I do a lecture on tigers and the endangerment of the species and try to educate people on the challenges we face with wild animals in the wild and how we're losing them. And we're losing the battle and saving these animals. So it was really good experience for me to go beyond the magic there with the Tigers. And we had this great experience. Before the show one night I was literally out front standing out at the front of the theater and a gentleman came up to me with his son, his son was about 20 years old. And his son had physical challenges. At 20 years old, he couldn't speak. And his dad held on to him tightly just to hold him in place. So he couldn't quite communicate to me but his father could. And his dad said we're here for the tiger experience. We want to see your show. We're so excited for the show. But my son really wants to see the Tigers. I said all right. Let's make it happen into the show. We let the audience settle. And because of the challenges that he's facing with his son, they sat in the back seat They wouldn't disturb anybody. So everybody's down friend, and this father and son are sitting in the back of the theater. And at that time, my whole, everything I was thinking about, literally, for those two hours while I was doing the show is that man and his son, this is going to be great, what a wonderful thing for a father to be doing this for his son, to have this experience, and to literally come up to me and say, We are so excited for this. So that was literally on my mind. And I could see him back there. And I begin to talk to the audience about tigers. And in the process, his son is so excited that he's just jumping up and down and showing his enthusiasm. And they had a large drink sitting between them in the chairs, I could literally see it. And the weird part about this is I'm the only person who can see this. No one in the audience knows what happened. They didn't see what happened. They didn't experience what I experienced. It was all for me. So I see this man, and the Sun and the Sun jumps up and this drink goes all over his son, it drenches him, it completely goes all over him, stains his shirt. And he begins to react to that moment is not a good thing to have a drink poured on you anyway, let alone the situation that he's in. The father grabbed him by the arm, they picked, he picked him up. And he escorted him quickly out of the room. And I'm now trying to talk to an audience. And all I see is a man and his son leaving the show, leaving the presentation when I know for a fact, this is why they were there. And it broke my heart. And I literally had a tear, start coming to my I'm like,
Unknown Speaker 41:49
really broke my heart. And the audience, they're clueless. About five minutes later, dad walks back in with his son. And his son is wearing his dad's shirt. And his dad is wearing his son's shirt.
Unknown Speaker 42:09
And his father had the mentality to do something very quickly to come back in and still allow his son to have the experience. Now with with what was going on the moment he did it, his son calmed down, and he had no problems. But his dad was willing to switch his shirt, the stained shirt and make sure his son had the experience. And it touched me, because I said to myself how I wish I could be a father, who has the wits about him to know what to do to take care of his children. And that men did. And I knew that that was something that I needed to see for me, because of my life, because of the way I raised raising my children. And it was just an example to me. So that being an amazing experience for me touched my heart. I loaded up the Tigers. I thought my evening was over, I'd experienced something I wanted to write down in a journal and keep it for the rest of my life and remember it. And when I drive home, I have a trailer behind me with tigers. And I drive home usually alone. And as an entertainer, when you have an audience yelling, screaming and making noises at you, all night long. I usually drive home in silence. Turn off the radio, I don't want to hear anything. And I'm driving home in silence. And I'm thinking about the story or the experience that I had. And I thought that the lesson was over. But it wasn't. Then I realized that it went even way beyond my imagination. And it hit me like a brick. I cried the rest. I cried all the way home. Because I realized that I'm a religious person. And I believe in a God. And I believe in a Savior who has died for us. And I realized at that point, that I have a loving father and a savior who's willing to take on the stains on my shirt and switch shirts with him so that I can be clean. And he can take on all the dirt that I've left on my shirt. And I realized that that point that it was a religious experience for me and that we have a loving Savior, willing to live and die for us and take upon himself our sins so that we can be clean. And that's what I got it wow, that's what I learned.
C.J. Newsom 44:54
That's beautiful. Isn't it amazing when the Lord reveal was things like that to you? There's there's hardly any words to describe it. But thank you.
Unknown Speaker 45:06
I appreciate it too, because though I was the only person who saw it that night, that at least I get to share it with you. And I hope that this story is touching. I do know I shared it with a minister one day, and he said, I'm taking this to my take news, my people on Sunday, and he did Sure enough, he said, I gotta tell you a story. So I guess it works. But it's something special. At first I thought it was all about being a good dad. And then I realized it was all about how someone cared enough to to make me clean.
C.J. Newsom 45:41
There you go. Yeah. Oh my gosh, that's beautiful. Perfect.
Matthew Boyce 45:43
That is really touching guys. Once again, this is Rick Thomas at the Eddie Williams Moon River theatre here in Branson, Missouri mentioned of dreams you can catch his show throughout the year here in Branson, Missouri, check out the website. We'll put the link in the description down below. And I will post the links there. Go check it out. Rick, thank you so much for taking the time to tell some stories and tell us about your life today. Once again, I'm Matthew Boyce.
C.J. Newsom 46:1