Spring Guide: ‘The Life (and Death) of Harry Houdini

SAGP_HoudiniPlay_0315

Credit: Ian Paul Guzzone

Harry Houdini will forever be known as the greatest escape artist of all time, but death can only be defied for so long. Brenna Geffers’ new play “The Life (and Death) of Harry Houdini,” which EgoPo Classic Theatre will present as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, tells the tale of a man for whom mortality was decidedly not a parenthetical concern.
“This is very much a story about Houdini’s relationship with the idea of death,” Geffers says. “You have to imagine a man who was so zesty for life that the only way to prove it was to do very death-defying, dangerous tricks.”
The show continues EgoPo’s season-long celebration of American vaudeville, for which Geffers also directed an all-female piece about Jesse James. “I’m interested in myths,” she says. “I think art has a big responsibility to not just celebrate old myths but to create new ones.”
The time machine theme of this year’s PIFA calls for pieces that take the audience back to a specific date in history, a happy coincidence given Geffers’ proclivity for shows that deal with pivotal moments in her characters’ lives. “I’m interested in pieces about the precipice of changes that people experience in life. This play takes place at the moment when Houdini draws his last breath, so it’s the biggest precipice  there can be.”
Geffers’ production will seat the audience on the stage, allowing them to share the escape artist’s vantage point as he flashes back through his life and ghostly applause echoes from the uninhabited seats. Houdini’s obsession with the afterlife extended off the stage as well, to his involvement with the spiritualist craze of the day.
“The more I researched Houdini, the more fascinating his life became,” Geffers says. “But anything that wasn’t connected with his relationship with death had to fall by the wayside. Expect to see something more along the lines of a ghost story than a magic show.”

If you go

‘The Life (and Death) of Harry Houdini’
March 27 to April 7
Plays & Players Theatre,
1714 Delancey St.
$25-$32, www.egopo.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Movies

Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.