Magician John Kaplan adjusts some back-stage equipment prior to his performance of Stage Fright — The THRILLusion Show — at RSS tonight. The doors open at 6:30 pm and the show begins at 7. David F. Rooney photo
Magician John Kaplan adjusts some back-stage equipment prior to his performance of Stage Fright — The THRILLusion Show — at RSS Thursday night. The show, which was organized by Beta Sigma Phi as a fundraiser for Trees for Tots and other children's charities, was very successful. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

Does the magic choose you or do you choose the magic? That’s the question John Kaplan asks himself from time to time.

The 51-year-old magician was busy setting up for Stage Fright — the THRILLusion Show fundraiser sponsored by Beta Sigma Phi to aid Trees for Tots and other local children’s charities — and talked as he worked to get ready for his performance.

For Kaplan the magic moment came when he was nine years old and received a magic set as a gift.

“That started it for me,” he said as he plugged something into a bank of electronics at RSS a few hours before he was scheduled to wow his Revelstoke audience, which, when it assembled, numbered somewhere between 300 and 400 people

Dressed in jeans and a checked shirt, Kaplan was an unassuming kind of guy, but — to steal a line from The Wizard of Oz — he was not only a real performer but definitely “the man behind the curtain,” too.

You’d think that in an age when computer graphics have become so sophisticated that they are occasionally difficult to tell from reality that audiences would find a magic show sort of… quaint.

Not so, says Kaplan.

“We take a lot of the technology we use for granted,” he said. “You can pick up a device smaller than a deck of cards and talk to somebody in Hong Kong and you just go, ‘Ho hum.’ You take that for granted. But watch somebody make a quarter disappear and you’ll ask, ‘How did you do that?’”

Kaplan used illusion and a lot of good-natured humour in his act Thursday evening, — even when he was cutting off EZ Rock DJ Steve Smith’s whimpering head. (How did he do it? Click on this link — — to watch it  unfold.)

One thing was certain: the show was pretty good. And why not? Kaplan has been doing this for 30 years right across the country and he has fine-tuned his act to perfection.

“It started as an adult show but over the years has evolved,” he said. “Now it’s a family show. It’s got some gore but it’s all in good fun. Kids like it and so do adults. One woman told me her 14-year-old said it was the best thing he’s ever seen.”

A 14-year-old? In this age of video games and ultra-sophisticated movie effects, that’s high praise indeed.