By Tom Interval
The last time Harry Houdini was in Philadelphia, he played a three-week engagement at the Chestnut Street Opera House. That was in 1926. Eighty-seven years later and only a mile from where the opera house once stood, Houdini will again make an appearance. Well, sort of.
Philadelphia actor Robert DaPonte is not a legendary magician and escapologist, but he plays one on the stage. In his latest gig, DaPonte stars as the lead character in EgoPo theater company’s The Life (and Death) of Harry Houdini, a play opening this Friday night at Plays and Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place.
“[Houdini] was the most famous stage magician of all time, a man perceived to have super heroic abilities by his scores of fans,” says DaPonte. “But it is Houdini as fallible human being which interests me. His doubts about the prospect of an afterlife mirror our own.”
Created and directed by EgoPo’s Brenna Geffers, Houdini, a 75-minute production previewing this Wednesday and Thursday, “venture[s] behind the curtain of Houdini’s final performance,” according to the play’s web page. “A mysterious magician’s assistant prepares the absinthe, the shackles, and a séance. Houdini gasps for breath as his life flashes before his eyes. An invisible crowd applauds. You are the audience for this magic show of life, death, and the beyond. After a lifetime of death defying escapes, Houdini is ready for his final curtain call. You will be there to distinguish reality from fiction—if you can.”
In addition to DaPonte, the cast includes Lee Minora (Bess, Houdini’s wife), Griffin Stanton-Ameisen (The Stagehand), Maryruth Stine (The Assistant), and Tyler Horn (Manager/Doyle/Rabbi).
Houdini, part of the 2013 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), runs through April 7. Tickets cost between $25 and $32; however, EgoPo will give a $5 discount to readers of this blog and to other magic or Houdini enthusiasts who present the promotional code “magic” when purchasing tickets online, over the phone (267-273-1414), or at the door.
To learn more about Houdini, its cast and crew, group rates, and more, visit www.egopo.org.