By Jaimz Dillman
Images courtesy of Killer Carnival
Remember when you were a kid, that one house on your street where the cool people lived who always had something going on with the best holiday displays and were also probably the ones that gave out the best trick-or-treat candy?
That’s exactly what Stefan Price has off a little side street of downtown Winter Garden. The town has grown in popularity thanks to a great weekend farmer’s market and a little theater producing big shows, while still holding onto that small-town charm.
Price found his little slice of heaven about 10 years ago with sights on creating a maker’s village. One area for artists to unite and make their art. Price said, “I bought this space to be my shop. I always liked having a collaborative workplace so I rebranded to have artists, pottery sculpture, furniture builders, cirque du Soleil performers, you name it- all one supportive space.”
And with that Price, along with partner magician and illusionist, Nick Comis brought another dream to life in a cinder-block high-ceiling barn now home to Killer Carnival. Comis said, “I got into magic to do haunted houses. Illusion design and performance- I want to see this grow every year.”
Now, make no mistakes, this is a ground-floor kind of attraction just in its infancy. You park in a grassy area and walk through open dirt and gravel past workshops. Years of creating props and scenery for television and movies are evident through the show space dressed with a hodgepodge of this and that. The storyline tells a tale of freaks and oddities behind curtains harkening back to roadside sideshows where townsfolk would come out for an afternoon to be shocked and amazed.
Several rooms lead you through small displays of impressive illusions featuring a small cast, some doing double duty in the final magic show. The largest space has a smattering of chairs, sofas, and theater seats- like I said, a hodgepodge. This is where Comis shines. Several magic tricks use audience volunteers, and a couple of large-scale set pieces bring the show to a big ending. We were less than 20 feet from him and nothing was given away. Pretty cool. But don’t relax, you still have to find a way out. And if you have a certain phobia, just remember this is a “killer carnival” and a few residents aren’t happy you’re in their space.
Talking to Price and Comis afterward was like chatting with a new parent. They were both so excited and proud to have brought their baby to life. “My biggest hope is when everyone walks out we tell them to come see us at Christmas. We take this intimate immersive format and play with it several times a year. We can build a cool show and in a different way that wouldn’t work in a theme park.” Said Price.
And that’s exactly what this is. It's a fun thing to do for a Halloween date night or something away from the over-sold over-hyped over-priced events out there. It’ll make you wonder what they’ll come up with for next time.
And yes, Price is already looking towards the next time. “When I first walked this property, I told my wife I want to make theater here. I’d love the opportunity to tell stories that say something and entertain.”
Killer Carnival has 3 shows a night with room for 30-40 people per audience.
Oct. 13, 14, 21, 22, 23 (industry night), 27-28. Tickets and info can be found at killercarnival.com