Treat or tricks?
I love to get scared. It’s really not hard to scare me, either. I couldn’t sleep for a week after watching The Blair Witch Project. I jump unnecessarily high when I hear footsteps behind me. Don’t even get me started on haunted houses. People often make fun of me for scaring so easily, but I treasure my childlike nervousness. I would hate to become so jaded that I couldn’t get scared. That’s why Kalin & Jinger’s second annual performance of Ghosts! at the Magic Underground was so much fun for me.
I should say up front that, even though this is a Halloween show, it isn’t all that scary. But it’s not really supposed to be. That, and the fact that it’s only 45 minutes long, make it great for kids. Ghosts! isn’t a theater masterpiece or even very complex, but it is a good time for the family.
The entrance to the Magic Underground, in front of the Pioneer Center, has a narrow staircase into the dark below, setting the scene for what’s to come. Inside, with your ticket in hand, you’ll walk through a hallway adorned with portraits of evil faces, things that move independently, as if operated by spirits, and a decapitated head that talks. In fact, the head made fun of me when I hesitated to walk up to it (I was afraid it might do…something to me). I relaxed just enough that the “executioner” up ahead was able to “Boo!” a jolt out of me. I’m a total sucker.
The audience was full of willing, enthusiastic and well-behaved kids of all ages. The lights dimmed. Jinger Leigh entered, telling a ghost story. Then Mark Kalin, the lead magician, stepped out and greeted his audience warmly. You may recall their names. Kalin and Jinger produced and starred in the critically acclaimed Carnival of Wonders show, so they have a following here in town, and there’s a reason. They’re fun to watch. They have a great rapport with the crowd and completely involved us in the show. Several members of the audience were even invited onstage to participate.
I had my doubts, when I saw the number of children in the audience, as to whether the magic would seem authentic. I’m happy to report that it does. My date and I, both in our 30s, were baffled. How, for instance, did they saw that girl in half? How could Kalin put his head in a box and allow his head to be spun 360 degrees as he talks to the audience? How could Jinger levitate? And how could one cast member get into a box, allow the box to completely flatten, and then disappear as the box finally opened, revealing an entirely different cast member inside? I still don’t know. I saw no mirrors, no ropes, no trap doors. And maybe I don’t want to know.
The supporting cast is, unfortunately, unnamed. There is no program or cast list, but are simply thanked by Kalin and Jinger at the end of the show. But I give kudos to all, who treated the unsuspecting volunteers with care and brought the show to life. The music was appropriately spooky and mysterious. It all just worked.
So go see Ghosts! And beware of executioners saying "Boo!"