Amanda Duff | May 14, 2020
Many Ridgefielders are familiar with Tom Pesce – the magician, speaker, and corporate and motivational entertainer who calls Ridgefield “home.” He has toured the country as a headliner for Princess Cruises, regularly performs for some of the most prestigious resorts, theaters, and Fortune 500 companies in the world, and often gives back to the Ridgefield community.
Like those in so many industries, Pesce was forced to shift his event-driven business model with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. We caught up with him to learn more about his new virtual show.
Tell us a bit about how your decision to create a virtual show came about.
A few weeks into the pandemic, the industry started to realize this would be here for a while and I knew I’d need to pursue a new direction. I had an amazing spring schedule planned. I was scheduled to fly to Napa, Miami, Chicago – I was booked nearly every other weekend, and that was all postponed. I had built up a substantial roster of corporate clients in the last few years, and in order to keep moving forward in that direction, I knew I’d have to create something new to offer clients.
Once you decided to create a virtual show, how did you actually execute it?
I had to physically create the stage set and teach myself how to use new software. The set has a combination of really cool lighting and multiple camera angles. I knew I had to give my first virtual show 150% , and the client I created it for was so happy that they ended up booking 10 shows. From there it took off! That was the fire I needed to really take my virtual show to the next level.
That’s wonderful! Were you surprised by the experience you were able to deliver virtually?
Yes – even I was surprised by the capabilities of a virtual show and how much fun people are having with it. Sometimes limitations often bring about the best innovations. I’ve actually worked on 90% NEW MATERIAL during this time.
And it’s not only a virtual show, but it’s INTERACTIVE, too. Tell us more about that.
That’s correct, I’m actually able to interact with the audience at home. Magic happens on viewers’ phones, it happens on their screens, it happens with objects they are holding. I also teach the audience how to perform illusions. That’s one of the most memorable things about my corporate shows – when you can teach even a CEO something that makes him or her feel like a star, it transforms the dynamic completely. It creates a moment no one will ever forget.
How often are you hosting virtual shows?
I’m doing live shows each night. Right now, I’m mainly doing corporate shows, but this Saturday night (5/16) at 7PM is a charity show I’m doing for the Curran Family, local Ridgefielders who founded Kindness Over Muscular Dystrophy, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) organization with a mission to provide charitable giving to support Muscular Dystrophy research.
Tell us more about Saturday night’s charity show!
It’ll be an incredible show! We are going to have on America’s Got Talent Sean 10 Finalist Derek Hughes, and Penn & Teller Fool Us star, Ben Seidman. Both are incredible magicians and they will be performing with me. It’s open to the public – tickets are just $20 – and 50% of ticket sales go directly to KOMD. Those who purchase tickets will receive an exclusive link to get into the virtual show.
Here’s where you can purchase tickets and learn more: https://tompesce.wellattended.com/events/tom-pesce-the-virtual-show-2
Do you foresee yourself continuing to offer virtual shows even when people do start gathering for events?
That’s an interesting question, and I think we’re all preparing for the new normal – in all industries. This is a new format that will really take us into the future, allowing us to offer more to people, whether we’re doing a live show and we supplement it with virtual elements, or whether we’re just doing a virtual show.
What is one positive takeaway that comes to mind as a result of this shift?
I was in Salt Lake City, Orlando, and Dallas in the same day virtually. I thought to myself “I just covered three states in four hours!” That would obviously not have been possible had the shows been live in-person.