Magical fundraiser kicks off Whidbey Playhouse renovations

JR Russell is one of three magicians who will perform at the Whidbey Playhouse Oct. 27 to raise funds for a theater facelift. - --
JR Russell is one of three magicians who will perform at the Whidbey Playhouse Oct. 27 to raise funds for a theater facelift.
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The Whidbey Playhouse needs a facelift and magical plans are under way to make it happen.

The first fundraiser in the “Raise the Roof” upgrade series planned for the Playhouse will be a pair of magic shows Saturday, Oct. 27. The shows will feature Playhouse magical favorite JR Russell, as well as Mark Paulson and Jim Earnshaw.

A children’s magic show is set for 2 to 3 p.m. Oct. 27. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for youth and $4 for children ages 4 to 11. At 7:30 p.m., a two-hour adult magic show is set. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for youth.

Russell has been performing for 15 or 20 minutes before Playhouse shows on opening nights. When he learned about the desired upgrades at the Playhouse, he thought his magic might be able to help.

At the upcoming shows, Russell promised lots of laughs “and you get to feel like a kid again.”

“People are all locked into their iPods and iPhones and going to movie theaters and it’s not live entertainment and it’s not audience participation,” Russell said, adding that this show is going to be “all one big audience participation and encouraging everyone to have a lot of fun.”

“When I retired from the Navy, I decided I still didn’t want to grow up,” Russell laughed. The retired Navy captain decided to magically transform his passion for flying into magic.

“I’m one of those kids who’s never going to grow up,” Russell said. “I just enjoy making people smile and laugh and have a good time.”

Russell’s wife, Sarah Russell, is the fundraising chair and a board member at the Playhouse. She was in one of the first shows at the Playhouse 30 years ago.

Originally, the building was a church, making the layout difficult for a theater. The board considered moving to a new location, but decided to work with this one instead, Sarah said.

The first order of business is to raise the roof above the stage so curtains can be installed and the lights can be hung at better angles, Sarah said.

Over the next two years, an assortment of entertainment-type fundraisers will support a “facelift of the whole theater,” Sarah said. Improvements are planned for the lobby, dressing room and more.

“We have a lot of fundraising to do in order to meet those goals,” Sarah said.

For details, call 679-2237.



It’s magic

Children’s magic show: 2 to 3 p.m. Oct. 27.

Admission: $6 adults, $5 youth and $4 children 4-11.

Adult show: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Admission: $10 adults and $5 youth.

The Playhouse is located at 730 SE Midway Blvd.


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