top of page
Search

Bringing Magic to Hochatown, Oklahoma

The Journey to Opening Hester's Theater of Magic in Hochatown, Oklahoma


For many, it seems like Hester's Theater of Magic just popped out of nowhere! I am a magician, after all. But the seed for this idea, including this location, goes back over 30 years. Opening Hester's Theater of Magic has been both an adventure full of excitement and challenges. Here's a glimpse into the journey that brought Hester's Theater of Magic to life.


The Spark

When I was around 4 or 5 years old, we visited Colorado Springs. Apparently, there was a magician who performed in Buckskin Joe's, and another at Santa's Workshop that I saw as a child. I have no memory of seeing those shows, at least not consciously. I'd later find out that Max Hapner was the Buckskin Joe's magician, and Max Armstrong was the Santa's Workshop magician. John Bryan was Max Hapner's protege and currently performs at Santa's Workshop. But something from those shows must have stuck.

The next time I saw magic was at a traveling circus that came through McKinney, TX. I have no memory of that show, nor do I know the name of the circus or magician. My first memories of magic are from watching the NBC World's Greatest Magic specials on TV, hosted by John Ritter. Jeff McBride, David Williamson, The Pendragons, Lance Burton, and Galina were among the notable routines I remember. I recorded those specials on VHS and would watch them repeatedly.

Then I met my best friend Matt, whose dad was a magician and would show me tricks like quarters through the hand, color-changing knife, cups and balls, sponge balls, ball and vase, and card tricks! My grandparents were amazing and would take me to Queen of Hearts magic shop in Plano, TX to keep my interest alive. So that covers the magic part. But why Hochatown?


The Location

Growing up, we went to Beavers Bend State Park yearly. I've made dozens of trips, staying in State Park Cabins (the luxury cabins didn't exist then), or the Charles Wesley Motor Lodge, Rodeway Inn, and the Microtel when it was new. We rode the train and horses at the Depot in the park, ate at the restaurant overlooking the river, swam, hiked, played mini golf, rode paddle boats and bumper boats. I have so many childhood memories there that it will forever be one of my favorite places, right beside Colorado Springs and Hot Springs, AR.

I knew Hochatown would be the perfect spot. I just didn't know where in Hochatown. It had to be easily accessible, so right off of 259 was ideal. At first, we tried reaching out to existing businesses to see if they had performance spaces where we could build our show and partner with them. No one had a dedicated space or seemed interested in having a permanent setup. We knew that in order to provide a show of the quality that we had in mind, that we would need a permanent setup. A show of this scale is simply too difficult to set up and tear down every performance. We knew that if we had a location with ample parking and enough space for a small stage and theater chairs, that we could make it work. Two years into our search, a small retail location popped up in the Shoppes at Eagle Ridge Village.


The Build

To achieve the right layout and aesthetic, we knew we'd have to tear out everything and rebuild the space from scratch. It's been a daunting task, but we're determined to bring magic to Hochatown! It's certainly a labor of love. From logistical issues to intricacies of marketing, we had our hands full. We tore out every piece of drywall while gutting the existing rooms that interfered with our layout. Once we tore the rooms out, we discovered the flooring had to be torn out halfway because the flooring had been put in after the walls, leaving strips with no flooring. Because it's laminate, we had to tear it out to the halfway point and work from there. Luckily, the flooring was only 2 years old, and Home Depot still carried that color and brand to match. Next, we built a stage and a 15ft wall to separate the lobby from the theater. The walls are insulated with rock wool sound insulation to help block noise from the lobby side and control the sound from our speakers. From there, we had to rewire the building, adding special outlets for the stage lights and sound system. We had to add an ADA-compliant bathroom, and 5 more sinks to be Health Dept compliant (turns out you need a 3-basin sink and two handwash sinks to sell popcorn). As you can see, one project turns into five more. The building had to be re-plumbed to account for the sinks and new toilet. We ran into severe contractor issues and hit a point where we had sheetrock hung, taped, and bedded but no texture. We couldn't find a contractor available to texture, and time was not on our side, so we improvised and bought faux brick paneling to cover the bare drywall! It turned out nicer than we expected, and we saved thousands of dollars and several weeks we would have waited for a contractor. Apparently, there's so much work with the 2,400+ cabins in the area that contractors have little interest in a small commercial job.


The Reason

Finally, 6 weeks later and after several delayed deadlines, we are close to opening our doors. We still need to do final touch-ups for paint, and hang the stage lighting, sound system, and curtains. The theater seats, which came from Ray Stevens' RFD Theater, are installed and ready to go. We have 60 seats total, with the front 9 seats designated as the VIP section.

We know it will be worth it to see the look of wonder on the faces of our guests. Our love for Hochatown inspired me to create a venue where others can make their own magical memories. Every show, every trick, every routine, every laugh, every gasp will be worth it. Hester's Theater of Magic isn't about the magic on stage; it's about making new memories, keeping old memories alive, and sharing the same wonder I felt when seeing magic for the first time with everyone who walks through our doors.


6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page