Three magician acts are hoping to make some magic for a new refugee family.
Paul Romhany (a recent arrival to Qualicum Beach) will be headlining a show also featuring Parksville double-act Sandra and Heather McNeill as The Magic of Zanthera, as well as Eric Bedard.
On Sunday, Oct. 1, the four magicians will be performing a 90-minute, all-ages show as a fundraiser for the 2017 Qualicum Refugee Sponsorship Group.
With volunteers having helped to resettle the Johdee refugee family in 2016, this new group aims to do the same for another refugee family.
The group will be required to support a family of up to four for its first year in Canada, meaning Qualicum RSG-17 needs to raise approximately $35,000.
The upcoming magic show is the group’s first effort to do that.
The NEWS spoke with Romhany about his start in magic, his love for illusions and why he feels this is such a worthy cause.
Originally from New Zealand, Romhany said the first eight years of his life were a bit of a waste.
That’s about how long it took him to discover magic.
“I saw a magician, and I got a magic set and got books out of the library,” he said. “It just became almost an obsession … I knew at (age) eight exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to be a magician.”
But it was a unique combination of a magic act and the little tramp that brought Romhany to audiences around the world, he said.
He’d also discovered Charlie Chaplin at eight years of age, and said “the idea of Chaplin and magic just all seemed to roll together.”
Since then he’s travelled the world performing on cruise ships, on television, for the Royal Family of Monaco, celebrities and others, and having performed in more than 120 countries.
Though he’s settled down in Qualicum Beach with his wife, he said, those years around the world continue to have an impact on his life, including the decision to take part in the upcoming refugee fundraiser.
Romhany’s no stranger to using his act to support worthy groups, choosing about three charities to support each year, he said.
“Every time I choose a fundraiser, for me, I have to feel something for it, and generally I always feel something so it’s always hard to choose,” he said. But this cause in particular reminded him of crossing a particular bridge in Sweden, and that experience convinced him to take part now.
“I had to travel across this bridge to get from the airport to where I was going,” he said. “An hour after I made it across… there were thousands of Syrian refugees crossing that bridge. I got to see these people.
“It just really affected me, when you see they’ve just left everything behind… you see these people and these kids and these families just pack up and move… seeing it first-hand really affects you.”
Romhany said he remembers growing up in New Zealand and feeling so disconnected from the things he saw happening in the rest of the world on the news, but travelling so extensively has changed all that for him.
“That’s why, when (Qualicum RSG-17) approached me, I said, ‘Oh, you know what? Absolutely.”
Romhany said he hopes the upcoming event serves to both raise funds and raise awareness about the need to help refugees.
Also, on the level of a magician, Romhany said he hopes to bring a little wonder to everyone who attends.
“We have a six-year-old son… he experiences so many new things, and so when we’re kids we experience the magic, and as we get older, we get conditioned to stop laughing, to stop jumping in puddles and so-on, and so that’s why magic is so good. It brings out the inner child in everybody, and so the bottom line for me is for people to experience wonder and that feeling of being a kid again.”
The magic show takes place Sunday, Oct. 1 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, and starts at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for children and $15 for adults. They can be purchased at The Source in Qualicum Beach, Parks West Business Products in Parksville, from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks or from a Qualicum RSG-17 volunteer.