Carol Givan shares her curtain speech and breaks it down so that we understand the purpose behind what she says. She also talks about how she builds relationships with her patrons and what it takes to get them to come to her theatre time after time.
Carol is a magician and a co-owner of the Theatre of Dreams. The Theatre of Dreams is an elegant, 74 seat theatre in Castle Rock, Colorado. For over 12 years, they have featured world class magicians from across the globe.
WILLIAM: Today, I talk with our client Carol Givan, who is a magician and a co-owner of the Theatre of Dreams.
The Theatre of Dreams is an elegant 74-seat theatre in Castle Rock, Colorado. For over 12 years, they have featured world-class magicians from across the globe.
In this episode, Carol shares her curtain speech with us and breaks it down so we understand the purpose behind what she says. She also talks about how she builds relationships with their patrons and what it takes to get them to come to her theatre time after time.
So, let’s get into it.
Hey Carol. Thanks for joining us today.
CAROL: Well, I appreciate you inviting me.
WILLIAM: To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the Theatre of Dreams?
CAROL: Oh, gosh. So, I guess I came before the theatre. I started in magic in college. I was a college cheerleader at Kent State University in Ohio and a magician came up to me after a game and said, “You’ve been in front of crowds before, you’re athletic, and I’m looking for someone to assist me in my show. What would you think about that?” And I thought, “That sounds like a pretty good job.”
When he walked away, me and my partner kind of laughed and went, “Hmm, pick-up line,” because it seemed kind of funny. But, anyway, long story short, we got together, started practicing some large scale illusions.
And after the first show, his name is Peter Gossamer–he’s still a professional magician. Actually, he’s got a big show in Branson right now–anyway, he said, “What do you think?” And I said, “Well, I really like the magic. It’s great, but handing you things and feeling like an assistant feels a little bit old-fashioned and that part about it, I’m not crazy about.” And so he said, “Great! Would you like to become more of a part of the show?” And I said, “Sure, why not?”
So, that progressed throughout the rest of that year and we both graduated that year and I had said to him, “Hey, what about trying to apply for a job as a cruise ship magician?” And he said, “Oh, that sounds great.” So, we did and we got a three-month contract which continued on to five years on cruise ships pretty much year round about 50 weeks a year. So, that’s how my career got started. So, I never turned back and never had another job besides being a magician.
WILLIAM: So how did you start the Theatre of Dreams?
CAROL: Well, after traveling with Peter for quite a while, I met up with Joe. Peter and I were working a gig at the Magic Island in Houston and they had a standup act, which was Joe, and an illusion act, which was Peter and I. We kind of made friends and went our separate way.
And after a while, Peter and I decided that we had different ideas on how we wanted the show to progress, so Joe and I got in touch. Eventually, I moved to Colorado and Joe and I hit the road with Dream Masterz. That was the name of our show because it was a storyline show about a guy who would dream of the perfect woman in his dream–I’m far from perfect–but I would come into the dreams and cut him in three and do all kinds of things.
I was like the power character, a non-speaking role, and that just kind of, for us, it was more fun to have a storyline and have a reason to do the magic instead of just standing magic because I can. So, that’s what the Dream Masterz storyline show went. And from there, we got tired of traveling and we said, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a theatre of our own, sleep in our own bed for a change, and get off the road year round?”
So, we started looking around the Denver area and this was about 2001, and we found a couple of different spaces, one just down the road from Mile High Stadium. Over and over, we found different places and there is always some kind of a snag. In that particular case, it was parking was an issue.
Then, we’d already lived in Castle Rock and one day, I’m looking at the paper and I saw this church. It was store front startup church was selling their space and I said, “Hey, why don’t we go look at that just to see it?”
And sure enough, we found our space and went into negotiations. I have a real estate license, so as a background that helped. But, yeah, started the negotiations with the church and eventually, bought it and started remodeling and here we are thirteen and a half years later.
WILLIAM: How long did it take you to find a venue?
CAROL: I’d say a couple of years.
WILLIAM: Oh wow.
CAROL: Yeah, yeah. We actually looked up in the mountain towns. Again, there was always some little issue, whether it was parking or zoning or its size or cost of converting it. There are just all kinds of things would pop up and I guess in the long run, we consider it a blessing because I really, really like this little town.
It had Castle Rock at 8,000 residents at the time and now here we are with over 50,000 residents. So, the town has grown right along with us.
WILLIAM: And it’s nice because you just live right across the street and so, you don’t have to go anywhere to even run the theatre, really.
CAROL: No. It’s an 8-minute drive door to door, so if I forget something, I only have 8 minutes to get home and to get it, so that’s kind of nice, too, and no traffic. We’re pretty much in the back area, but, yeah, 8 minutes door to door from our house to the theatre. You can’t beat that.
WILLIAM: No, you can’t. Now, let’s chat a bit about marketing. In episode 5, Gloria Shanstrom talked about the importance of having a curtain speech. I’ve seen your show. I know you guys have an excellent curtain speech. Can you talk about what that does for you and your theatre?
CAROL: I think it’s really important because a lot of people think, “Okay, here’s the little theatre in Castle Rock, Colorado. How in the heck did they get world-class talent here?” And that is a good question if you’re a first time theatre goer here.
The reason I do it, in a lot of ways, I feel a little funny sometimes because in our program, it gives a bio of Joe and I, but it also lets them know why we’re able to get these talented people to come here. We have very talented colleagues and because of that, we can get them to come to a 72-seat theatre in the middle of nowhere. Basically, we’re not in a big city.
So, yeah, that kind of lets them know how we can accomplish what we do, plus I feel like the curtain speech, especially for me, because when I’m not performing there, I am running lights and sound and hostessing. So, it also gives a personality to who the heck Joe and I are, also.
That has really worked out well and we have had a big compliment several times where people say, “You know, you guys, it’s really cool because we’re seeing world-class talent and we feel like we’re in your living room.” That’s cool.
WILLIAM: Could you give us an example of your curtain speech of what you say before the show start?
CAROL: Sure. Basically, I say: Welcome to the Theatre of Dreams. My name is Carol. I’m one of the co-owners and resident magicians and we’re so glad you’re here.
You’re about to see another amazing show, hence the name of our website. Before we get started, I’m asking that you put your cellphones on silent so not to disrupt the performance.
Besides our public shows, we do a lot of private parties and events here such as birthdays, anniversaries, customer appreciation, team building, meetings, field trips and more. It really helps us to keep our small theatre in operation. Also, we offer gift certificates for clients and friends.
Please take a minute to look at your programs that lists the upcoming shows as well as how to like us on social media. You can have our performers sign your program and we hope you take it with you to show people and help us spread the word about us.
We also offer Wizard Camp and private magic lessons also. And then, if there are wizards in the crowd, someone who’s graduated, then I introduce them. That’s kind of fun because I can also focus that we do have adults that come, so it’s ages 7 and up and I mean all the way up.
And then, I tell them, “We’ve been here for 13 years, which is magic in itself”
And I tell them the story that the Rocky Mountain newspaper had Joe and I on the cover of the Weekend Spotlight section in April of 2003 with a really large caption that said, “Quite a trick,” expressing that it might be kind of difficult opening a small theatre focusing on magic in a small town like Castle Rock. But, here we are 13 years later and, sorry, the Rocky Mountain News closed its door a few years ago. Oh, well, sorry for them.
And then, I ask always how many have been there before and it’s amazing because it’s usually about half the house. So, that’s great repeat business, and then I ask them to all become ambassadors for our theatre and go out and tell everybody they talk to about what a unique, fun theatre we have right here in this small town in their backyard, and I ask them to help keep it going.
And then, just for personality I say, “Are there any celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries?” and sometimes, sing happy birthday, if that’s the case.
And then, I basically say, “The show is going to start in about 5 minutes. Get ready to have a great time and thank you for your support.”
WILLIAM: Now, I know you’ve put a lot of thought in this speech. Can we go paragraph by paragraph here and break down why you say what you say and where you say it?
CAROL: Sure, absolutely.
WILLIAM: So, to start off here, you say, “Welcome to the theatre of Dreams. My name is Carol, one of the co-owners and resident magicians here. We are so glad you’re here.”
“You’re about to see another amazing show, hence the name of our website. Before we get started, I’m asking you to put your cellphones on silent as not to disrupt the performance. Thank you.”
So, can you break down the purpose behind why you say these things?
CAROL: Well, obviously, I want to get the business done. I do not want the cellphone ring tones going off in the middle of the show, so that’s really important. And people, sometimes, they don’t think about it.
I’ve been in movie theatres and the movie theatres put that on the screen and sometimes people just don’t listen to that, so they really need to. So, that’s important.
And basically, I need to tell them who am I, why am I standing up there, and what am I doing in this space. And I also sneak in “another amazing show,” because that is the name of our website amazingshows.com. So, without me having to say that, “and it is written in the program,” we’re trying with just a little subliminal, Oh, yeah, amazing shows. So, it kind of just reinforces the name of the site, which is really pretty easy. So, that’s why I do those two sentences.
WILLIAM: So, let’s go on further in the speech here. You say, “Besides our public shows, we do a lot of private parties and events here such as birthdays, anniversaries, customer appreciation, team building, meetings, and field trips. It helps keep our small theatre in operation. Also, we offer gift certificates for clients and friends.”
“Please look at your programs that list the upcoming shows and find out how to like us on social media. You can have our performers sign your program and we hope you take it with you to show people to help us spread the word about us.”
So, let’s break down that paragraph there.
CAROL: Right. the, “Besides our public shows,” is an absolute fact. If we didn’t do private events of all different kinds, field trips and all that, it would be really hard to, number one, keep our ticket price down, you know, family affordable, and also, it really is the main income there for us.
WILLIAM: What are your ticket prices for your theatre?
CAROL: Right now, normally, $22.50 to $25.00 for the premium seats. However, I have a show coming up that its $25 to $30 and it’s probably going to, I’m hoping, going to open the door to keep that $25 to $30 range out there.
It really is a super good deal because, also, when you come to our place, it’s free parking, no hassle, all on one level, wheelchair accessible, all those things. And it’s probably about time that we do increase that ticket price just a little bit. That’s still very cheap when you think about it for an hour and a half world-class show.
WILLIAM: Exactly. And then, you talked about gift certificates and also how they can like you on social media.
CAROL: Right. Well, as well all know, the social media thing is a big thing in getting your name out there. Thank heaven for that or email. I can’t imagine running a theatre and doing this without a private email list, and social media, and all the free listings that I get because those three things are really what do it. I can’t imagine having to send things by snail mail, printed materials by snail mail like they used to in the past. That’s crazy.
But, yeah, those things are all really important, but gift certificates are nice because you know, somebody’s like, “Oh, this is a great place. I want to spread the word,” and you know, there’s people out there and I’m one of them. They have too much stuff.
I would rather have a gift of something fun to do instead of collect more stuff to sit around in my house. So, it kind of hits the chord with a lot of people with the gift certificates, so that’s always fun to mention because I really do sell quite a few of those.
WILLIAM: Here, you say, “If you want a performer to sign your program and take it with you to show people to help us spread the word.”
And whenever I come to your theatre, I see maybe a third of the audience want their programs signed. Why do you do that?
CAROL: Yeah. Well, for one, it helps with meet and greet because you know, then, they can get somebody’s signature and take it home and especially the kids. I have some kids, they have so many programs they collected.
I’ve had people say that they take theirs to work to show their coworkers because then they got something instead of just speaking about it. They’ve got something, a picture, and an actual program to say, “Hey, this guy or this girl, they were like amazing and it was so much fun. You got to get down there.”
So, it really is a marketing tool there, you know, just to take the program.
WILLIAM: I think that’s a great idea.
CAROL: Yeah. It seems to work, also, yeah.
WILLIAM: And then, here, you talk about, “We offer Wizard Camp and private lessons too.”
WILLIAM: And then, you introduce some of the wizards that are in the crowd.
CAROL: Yeah, and that, again, that’s kind of just the fun personality thing. The younger kids just love to stand and be recognized. You can see them puff out their chests. They’re so proud. And then, the older wizards, you know, I have a guy that’s 40 something. He comes to every show and he still stands up and grins just like a little kid because he’s learned some magic, and then that gives me a nice way without bragging like these are really cool, and the kids get to come up and they get to not only learn magic, but perform on a professional stage.
And then, I sneak in the private lessons because that’s a big income for Joe and I, also. In fact, Joe’s right downstairs teaching one right now.
WILLIAM: Oh, very cool.
WILLIAM: And so, this is just getting in their mind that, yes, we do shows here, but we also do other things.
CAROL: Yeah, exactly.
WILLIAM: And then, you say next, “We’ve been in business 13 years, which is magic in itself.”
WILLIAM: And then you talk about the Rocky Mountain newspaper going out of business and how you’ve been there 13 years. Why do you tell that story?
CAROL: Well, it is ironic that we made it longer. That Rocky Mountain News was in Denver for 100 years and it just was ironic that they did do a feature story on us. And at that time, when we opened, honestly, William, we had a 5-year plan.
We thought, you know, Douglas County is one of the higher income counties in the state. We’re hoping that we can draw from that and we felt that made us feel a little bit more comfortable. But, we thought, if we can make it in this little town for five years, having no background or experience in running a theatre, we’d be pretty happy.
So, once we made it past that 5-year mark, we looked at each other and went, “Wow!” It’s not a huge income maker, however, it is a billboard for us because of having the theatre, we have gotten hired for all kinds of corporates and private house parties, et cetera, that we probably wouldn’t have gotten on just because of the visibility. They’re like, “Oh, there’s a magic team in Castle Rock.” So, they at least know about us. Before that, they didn’t.
And just 13 years, we’re proud of it. It’s a pretty good landmark, I mean, any business that can make it for that long must be doing something right, I guess. And it’s kind of a fun story, too. It’s not like I’m just marketing, marketing, marketing and being boring. It is a fun story and it’s true. So, that’s why I say that.
WILLIAM: Now, this next part, I think, is one of the most important parts of your speech. You ask the audience, “How many of you have been here before?” and then you ask them to all become ambassadors for the Theatre of Dreams and go tell everyone about this unique fun theatre that they have in their own backyard.
WILLIAM: Can you explain what this does for you?
CAROL: Well, by raise of hands, when they show how many have been there before, any business will tell you that repeat business will keep you open and that is an absolute fact. I learned that marketing even in college. So, it’s all about repeat business because if somebody comes in once and doesn’t come back, then you’re not performing up to the caliber.
But, I say as a marketing person, if I can get someone in the door just once to understand what quality and fun we are offering at a very affordable price, I feel like if I get them in once, my chances to get them back are very, very high. And that has proven to be so because at least half the house and sometimes more are repeat customers, and I know that the new people look around and go, “Well, look what I’m part of now.” So, that’s kind of cool.
And asking them to be ambassadors, if you don’t flat out ask them to go out and talk about it, they might not. It just never hurts. If you don’t ask, you won’t be given. So, it never hurts to just say please go out and tell them because they can also just feel comfortable like, “Oh, somebody asked me to do this. I’m doing something nice for these people.” I just ask because I figure it’s just worth asking because they just probably will do it.
WILLIAM: And I like that you put this near the end, too, because you’ve been in front of them talking with them, telling them about yourself, about your theatre, what you do, and now you ask them to help spread the word about their theatre. So, it’s almost as if they already know you at this point and you’re becoming a friend to them. So, of course, they want to help out a friend and especially if they enjoyed the show, they’re going to want to help you out even more.
CAROL: Yeah, that’s what I hope for, absolutely.
WILLIAM: And then, finally, here you say, “Is there any birthday celebrations or anniversaries here in the audience?” And if there are, then you celebrate that with them. Why do you do that?
CAROL: Well, I think a lot of people just, like all of us, when it’s your birthday, it’s one day out of 365 and they might just feel special about that. And the whole singing thing, again, it’s just to create a relaxed, fun, family atmosphere like, hey, we’re all here having a good time together. It’s just to make them feel good, really, and to acknowledge, especially we get wedding anniversaries that are 40 and 50 years. You go, “Wow! That’s very cool.” So, yeah, it’s just a fun thing and, again, just to create a comfort zone for them.
WILLIAM: And if it’s okay with you, we’ll make your speech available to our listeners so they can kind of break that down for themselves so whenever they write their own, they can use yours as an example for that.
CAROL: That’s fine with me. I’d be flattered.
WILLIAM: Excellent. So, let’s chat a bit about your repeat patrons. You already said about half or sometimes more than half of them are repeat patrons, how do you go about building that relationship with your patrons and what brings them back to your theatre time after time?
CAROL: I would say, for one, quality control, I mean, we do really do have world-class performers on this small stage, performers that normally perform for 500 or 1,000 people standing up here on our small space for 72 people. So, I think that is the main thing because people are usually blown away.
First time customers are like, “Wow!” And even repeat customers I hear over and over and over again because we greet them when they come in, we say goodbye when they leave. Every single person, we try to at least say hello or goodbye to every person and I hear it over and over again, “Oh, my gosh, Carol, you always market these people and say they’re really great and that guy or that girl is better than the last one. How do you just keep this up? We’re so thrilled.” So, that’s a big compliment.
So, I would say quality. Quality of shows definitely does it. And, I think, over time, they have gotten to trust us. Nobody knows who in the heck is Shoot Ogawa, for example, a Japanese magician, in two weeks. They don’t know who that is but they trust that if Joe and Carol say he’s world-class and you’re going to love this show, they have grown to trust us and so they come back again and again.
And one of the coolest things is that, often, I have lots of couples, for example. Every time they come, they’ll say and proudly announce when they walk in, “Oh, here is so and so friends of ours. We wanted to bring them and show them how cool this hidden gem is of yours.” So, they’re coming and bringing their friends to see us to prove that, “Hey, we found this thing you got to be a part of.” So, we love that too.
One funny thing I have to mention, you know, you mentioned about your becoming their friend, so many people, and I’m blown away half the time, so many people, when they arrive, they want to hug me, like, okay, there’s a fine line between being friends and hugging and keeping that professional relationship, but I guess I’m a hugger anyway. So, people come in hugging and I’m thinking, what do the new people think? But, I guess, that’s okay too. Do only our friends come to the shows? I guess, whatever. It’s funny.
WILLIAM: And you’re on a first name basis with a lot of your patrons, too.
CAROL: Definitely, on first name basis. Now, I have to admit, out of context, when I’m in town, at a store or something, I can’t come with their names because I don’t have it on a list, but a lot of them, I have to say, yes, I know their names. I definitely have learned their names.
WILLIAM: And I guess having with a 72-seat theatre, having that attendee list, where you can kind of read over and know who’s going to be coming so you prepared for that, also helps with that as well.
CAROL: Oh yeah. When I was a cruise director, you only see people for seven days. No way did I remember anybody’s names. Faces, yes, but names, no way. So, yeah, that was a little different. There were several thousand people and they’re brand new every single week. This is much easier here, although I only see them one week in a month, normally.
WILLIAM: But, I guess it’s year after year, with those people.
CAROL: Oh, yeah. There are regulars and I know you know it from running our ticketing site–Thank you–that when I release a show, those front seat rows are my regulars. They jump on them immediately. I’ve even sold the ones in November already quite a bit, just from the regulars that never miss a thing.
WILLIAM: So, let’s talk about that just for a moment. You have the first two rows at a higher price than the rest of your house, have you found that to be working out pretty well for you?
CAROL: Yes. I’m so glad that we decided to go to that. Yes, it definitely has, even though the other rows are rows 3 to 6, as small as we are. Yeah, people want to do that, especially if they have sight issues or hearing issues or smaller kids, they will jump on those right away. But I have to say, my first two rows are almost always filled with adults. I like that for the performers sake, that’s a little bit easier.
WILLIAM: So, even though they’re more expensive, you’re selling those out before your general admission.
CAROL: Yeah and they’re not more expensive. It’s like a couple of bucks, but it’s nice because I can pretty much rely on the first two rows going fast because people want to jump on those and make sure. They’re our regulars in the first two rows and they’re proud of that, too. They’re funny about that. It’s great.
WILLIAM: And then, I guess too, when somebody goes to the site and they see that sold out next to them, they say, “Oh, well, this must be selling pretty well. The first two rows are already sold out. I’d better get tickets.”
CAROL: Absolutely. It’s a good psychological angle also. Yup, it is really good. I’m glad we did it.
WILLIAM: So, to wrap this up, can we talk about one marketing technique that event producers can start doing today to increase their ticket sales?
CAROL: Oh, boy. I guess, well, aside from the things we already talked about, social media and quality shows, all that, I would say that I learned this in college and I’ve also spoken to radio and TV personalities that they claim that this is the way to go. They say that it’s not the size of your ads, like big pictures in the paper, et cetera, but it’s the frequency.
So, I personally spend a lot of time getting listings in every little newspaper I can anywhere I can get the name Theatre of Dreams out there where they see it over and over again. And finally, it will occur to somebody, “Well, I’ve seen that name x amount of times. I’m going to check it out, finally.” And so, the frequency of your listings, I think, for me, works very well.
WILLIAM: And then, that also helps that you’re doing shows not once every six months or once every three months. You’re doing shows practically every single month and maybe two or three shows in a month.
WILLIAM: Do you think you could have the same level of success if you’re only doing one show every two months or one show every few months, or do you think that frequency really helps?
CAROL: I think about one weekend a month is fine for us in this market, we probably could cut that down to every other month, but it might not pan out as well. And right now, I have a long list of very high-profile performers that are asking us if we have a time slot for them. You know, that’s hit or miss, I guess that’s to be determined. But, in our market, I know that one weekend a month I can sell out and that’s great for the performers also.
WILLIAM: Thanks a lot, Carol, for joining us on the show today. How do we keep up with you and the Theatre of Dreams?
CAROL: That’s very easy. Like I had mentioned, our website is amazingshows.com and that’s an easy one to remember. Just go to the website and if you want to buy tickets, on the top bar of amazingshows.com, there is a little icon that says “Tickets” and it takes you straight to tickets.amazingshows.com. So, that’s how you can catch up with me. On Facebook, it’s Fans of Theatre of Dreams and also, our performing act, Dream Masterz. That’s also on Facebook, as well as Twitter, and Instagram, and all of those.
WILLIAM: And if someone wanted to hire you for an act, how would they go about doing that?
CAROL: You can either call me right through Amazingshows.com. Call our ticketing line or there’s actually an icon that talks about Dream Masterz also with a separate phone number. So, either way, you can get or you can Google Dream Masterz. So, yeah, either way you can get a hold of us. Hopefully, it’s easier than you think, so call any time. We’re ready!
WILLIAM: Well, Carol, thanks a lot for being on the show today.
CAROL: Thank you, William. It was a pleasure, it really was.