Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Spencers revive Houdini's Walking Through A Brick Wall


Magic duo The Spencers have added to their "Theater of Illusion" show a modern recreation of Houdini's Walking Through A Brick Wall. They will perform the illusion this Friday at the Performing Arts Center at Lincoln-Way Community High School in New Lenox, IL. Here's a description of their effect from Kevin Spencer and the The Courier News:

"One of the things we are featuring this year is a re-creation of Harry Houdini’s walking through a brick wall," he said. "In 1914, Houdini walked through a solid brick wall on the stages of Broadway. He did it for only a few months, and then he stopped. Lots of speculation about why he may have stopped, but nobody knows for sure. But since 1914, no other magician has ever attempted that illusion live onstage. So what we’ve done is taken that concept … and made it very hip, very sophisticated."
When audiences come into the Performing Arts Center at Lincoln-Way Community High School for the 7:30 p.m. show, walk in, they will see eight concrete cinderblocks. People are even invited to inspect the blocks and make sure they’re real.
Then, a member of the audience is invited onstage to watch the Spencers stack the blocks into place, with bars connecting the blocks. That audience member then holds onto the wall while Kevin Spencer visibly walks through the concrete to the other side of the wall.
"It’s not only a great piece of magic, but the fact that we get to use someone from the audience makes it a great piece of theater too,” he said. "It’s a really fun illusion for me to perform."

Sounds pretty cool. However, it isn't entirely correct to say that "no other magician has ever attempted the illusion live onstage." Doug Henning performed the illusion on his third live television special in 1977.

Houdini and his wall from Houdini The Key

You can check out The Spencers tour schedule and more information via their website spencersmagic.com. To buy tickets to this Friday's performance in New Lenox, visit the Lincoln-Way series website.

9 comments:

  1. John it is New Lenox, IL. Not Lenox.

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  2. The Spencers Walking Through a Brick Wall is slightly different from Houdini's. Their illusion is a creation of Jim Steinmeyer and is a portable version. That's not to take anything away from it, as it is a beautiful illusion. There is a video of it on youtube as well.

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  3. Oh, this is a Jim Steinmeyer creation? Didn't know that. I also wasn't sure if they had already performed it, or it Friday was the debut. I couldn't get in touch with them. The Courier article makes it sound like it's new.

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    1. They've been doing it for a while now. And they probably aren't easy to get hold of because they always on the road, they work all the time!

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    2. Oh, then I guess this really isn't really "news". But it's news to me. Thanks, Dean. :)

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  4. LOL, it's news to you and your readers that's what counts. Kevin and Cindy Spencer are great performers. Kevin also used to do the Milk Can in his show, and an excellent version at that. I also think he was the first to present this version of the Walking Through a Brick Wall. It's an impressive illusion.

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  5. Thank you for sharing with your readers about our upcoming New Lenox, IL performance and the feature of the Walking Through A Brick Wall Illusion. This is was created for us by Jim Steinmeyer. It is a brilliant piece of theatre and intriguing piece of magic.

    Houdini's version was invented by Sydney Josolyne and sold to Houdini. This was the source of Houdini's illusion, and it was later published in a booklet by Josolyne. There is some speculation as to why Houdini stopped performing it. Some people believe it undermined his escapes while others believe his debunking of spiritualist mediums had something to do with it. For me, it's a fun illusion to perform.

    I feature another illusion in the show from the mind of Steinmeyer. It has no real "name" - we just call it the Ring Box. It is freely adapted from an old British Ring Box trick that Jim
    was aware of for many years. A version of it appeared in Brunel White's book and, coincidently, White credits the illusion to Josolyne. Indeed, in Josolyne's booklet, is a complete description with the insistence that the trick was his and was later copied.

    In other words, that's TWO variations of Josolyne tricks in my show. I'm not sure that even Josolyne ever really performed two of his own tricks. But, in our current show we are bringing Josolyn back to the stage with two very cool illusions.

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    1. Thank you for the comment, Kevin. What an honor to have you here. Very interesting to hear the background on this illusion. As I told Dean, I had no idea this new version was created by Jim Steinmeyer. Hope to see your show some day. Break a leg Friday!

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