Family-friendly fundraiser promises thrills and chills

Two performances of Stage Fright: The Thrill-usion Show Sat., Oct. 27 at Aggie Hall will raise money for the Ladysmith Kinsmen Club.

John Kaplan has been making magic since he was a nine-year-old boy.

The RIchmond-based magician has turned his childhood passion into his career. He travels across Canada performing magic and thrilling illusions, and most of the time, he combines his magic shows with fundraisers for non-profit organizations in the communities he visits.

That’s exactly what Kaplan is doing this Saturday (Oct. 27) when he brings Stage Fright: The Thrill-usion Show to Ladysmith.

Stage Fright is being presented as a fundraiser for the Ladysmith Kinsmen Club, and the money raised will be used to finalize Brown Drive Kin Park and will go toward renewing the blue playground at Transfer Beach, which will need to be replaced within a couple of years, explained Kinsmen member Jason Kelland.

Kelland is excited to bring Kaplan’s thrill-usion show to Ladysmith.

“We thought it would be a unique show to come to town,” he said. “[Kaplan] does this across the country for non-profit organizations to help raise funds, and he’s got a lot of credentials. It looks like an interesting show. We’re really excited to bring it to town and to kick off an exciting Halloween season.”

Stage Fright: The Thrill-usion Show is meant to be a fun-filled Halloween-themed magic and illusion show.

Kaplan blends magic with music, theatre and dance. He incorporates classical magic with grande illusion and original routines as he resurrects the long-dead Horror Ghost Show, a form of theatre that was at the peak of its popularity during the mid-thirties through the late 1950s when vaudeville was king, according to Kaplan’s promotional material.

To create the proper Halloween atmosphere, the show uses lighting, costumes, masks, music and illusions. Stage Fright is described as “upbeat, fun and often hilariously funny.”

Stage Fright is full of icky, creepy, crawly, spooky magic,” said Kaplan. “Although it’s a family-friendly show, there are lots of thrills. It’s kind of like a hot and cold shower — there are lots of laughs and lots of thrills. Audience members will float in the air and will be putting their neck on the line in the guillotine, and there will tributes to Harry Houdini, which is appropriate because he died on Halloween.”

Kaplan has been touring the country doing magic shows since 1980.

“I got into magic as a kid,” he said. “I was nine years old when I got a magic kit.”

Growing up in Calgary, Kaplan says he was lucky to meet Micky Hades, a magician who has created, developed and manufactured custom props and illusions and has published hundreds of magic books.

“I was lucky I was able to apprentice under him for five years after I graduated from high school,” said Kaplan. “In 1980, I started developing my own show, and I’ve been touring the country ever since, primarily with my family fundraising magic show.”

In the last 33 years, Kaplan has performed thousands of shows in 500 Canadian communities.

“I’ve always loved magic,” he said. “It was a childhood passion, and I’m lucky to continue it as an adult. I love the feeling you get when you see something impossible or amazing right before your eyes. I enjoy the fact that our shows bring families together … I also love the fact that our shows are leaving tangible results — we’re leaving smiles on people’s faces and also raising a lot of money. My whole philosophy is creating a win-win, so it works well.”

Kaplan is looking forward to coming to Ladysmith and helping the Kinsmen.

“I’ve worked with a lot of Kin Clubs, and they are a great organization and do a lot of work in the community,” he said.

There will be two all-ages presentations of Stage Fright Sat., Oct. 27 at Aggie Hall — one at 4 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. Tickets for either show are $10 each and are available at A&W Ladysmith or at 49th Parallel Grocery.

While both shows are family-friendly, Kelland says the 4 p.m. show may be a little bit more suitable for younger children.

“There is the ‘boo factor’ so please be aware of that when bringing younger kids, but it is a family-oriented show,” he said.

Kelland says there are a few exciting side events planned during the shows, including children’s costume contests and a contest to guess what’s hidden in the coffin.

The Kinsmen thank all their sponsors for this event, including platinum sponsors Lealand Contracting, 49th Parallel Grocery and A&W and the many local businesses who are supporting the fundraiser.