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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hugh Jackman confirms he’s Houdini

Hugh Jackman has confirmed to Sydney's Daily Telegraph that he is indeed playing Harry Houdini in an original Broadway musical due to open in 2010.

"We've been working on that for about a year and we'll probably go to Broadway when we're finished. But it'll be at least a year away," says the actor.

Jackman described his fascination with Houdini, stating, "He was a showman basically. He was probably the first rock star. A master manipulator of the media and a showman through and through."

As to playing a singing and dancing Houdini...

“Come on. Why not?” Jackman says with a laugh. “If [Houdini] could sing and dance he would have done it.”

Scott Sanders and David Rockwell will produce Houdini, which features a book by best-selling author Kurt Andersen and music by Danny Elfman. Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien is attached to direct.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Political cartoonists still love Houdini

In his own time Houdini was often used in political cartoons, such as the Chicago Herald in 1922 depicting “Houdini Sam” suspended in a “Pacific Alliance straight jacket” or the Brooklyn Eagle showing “Congress” boxed in a Houdini-like packing crate marked “Bonus Dilemma” (these can be seen in The Original Houdini Scrapbook by Walter B. Gibson).

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Check out this modern political “cartoon” that accompanied an article in the Mail Online about British Prime minister Gordon Brown’s perceived political constraints. Headline: Even Houdini couldn't get out of this.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

'God Goliath' with Houdini and Leo Weiss

Here’s one of the most unique takes on a Houdini story I’ve ever heard. The Wingspan Theatre Company, in cooperation with The Bath House Cultural Center, will present a staged reading of a new play entitled God Goliath by Dallas playwright Angela Wilson.

God Goliath takes place in 1915 and finds Houdini’s brother, Dr. Leopold Weiss, experimenting with “the healing properties” of the x-ray machine. All he needs is a dying patient and a great deal of funding. When Houdini and Dr. Weiss team up, the competition is on between science and magic. When one of Weiss’ patients discovers that her own cancer has spread, she becomes the patient of an unlikely trio of “physicians” that includes Houdini, Leo Weiss, and the household cook, who has her own ideas for a cancer cure.

This staged reading of God Goliath will be directed by Beth Bontley. The cast includes T.A. Taylor, Ashley Wood, Pam Dougherty, Carrie Slaughter and Cindy Beall. The staged reading dates are: Thursday, April 9th and Friday, April 10th, both at 7:30 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-can. Call 214-675-6573 for tickets or by emailing wingspan@wingspantheatre.com.

Photo of Houdini and Leopold Weiss from Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss from the Arthur Moses collection.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Houdini’s Paper Magic reprint

The books Houdini wrote during his life have all fallen into the public domain and are therefore reprinted again and again in varying quality. I don’t even try to keep up, and let most of these reprints pass me by.

But every once and a while there’s a standout, and that applies to Barnes & Noble’s 2007 reprint of Houdini’s Paper Magic. It’s a small quality hardcover with a very nice dust jacket by Jo Obarowski. The text is a facsimile of the original 1922 edition by Dutton.

If you don’t have Paper Magic and don’t want to shop (and pay) for a first edition, this might be the one to add to your Houdini library.

Houdini’s Paper Magic can be purchased at Amazon.com.

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