The House Theatre of Chicago has announced the extension of the first play to ever grace its stage, the magic-filled crowd favorite Death & Harry Houdini, written and directed by The House Theatre of Chicago Artistic Director Nathan Allen and starring Company Member and professional magician Dennis Watkins as Harry Houdini. Filled with stunning magic, poignant dialogue and original music, Death & Harry Houdini presents the story of history's most famous magician and his life-long war against Death. The production's extension runs through August 21 at the Chopin Theatre's Upstairs Theater, 1543 W. Division St. The performance schedule, beginning July 1, is Wednesdays - Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 4 and 8 p.m Tickets range from $45 - 59. $15 same-day tickets for students and industry professionals are available for all dates, seats permitting. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.thehousetheatre.com or call773.769.3832.
The production previously ran to great acclaim and sold out houses in Chicago and Miami from January through August 2012 and again in the summer of 2013, The House is thrilled to bring back this dynamic and magic-filled production.
"This intimate, illusion-filled tribute is back... handcuffs, straitjacket and all. Hugely entertaining and crowd-pleasing!" declared Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune in his four-star review. "Soar[ing] on Dennis Watkins' brilliance as a genuine magician" and "ingeniously written and directed by Nathan Allen," (Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times), Death & Harry Houdini showcases "Enormous cunning, elegance, and skill (Tony Adler, Chicago Reader) as it leads viewers through the events of history's most famous magician's life told with "high energy and lack of artifice in a loose, buzzy blend of traditional storytelling, music and spectacle," (Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago). Beginning with the untimely passing of Harry's father, the show travels through his first tent shows with his younger brother Theo, meeting his wife Bess and the beginning of his journey towards fame on the Vaudeville circuit. All the while, Harry feels Death close on his heels and he won't rest until he's conquered him once and for all. Harry will walk on broken glass, swallow razor blades and risk his life in the Water Torture Cell, but will he pull off an escape from Death? Marvel with fellow Audience members as Houdini battles Death once more.
Returning to the cast and joining Dennis Watkins as Harry Houdini are House Company Members Carolyn Defrin (Bess), Shawn Pfaustch (Theo), Tommy Rapley (Death), Marika Mashburn (Cecilia), and Johnny Arena (Ringmaster). Guest artists Rashaad Hall and Julia Merchant join the ensemble.
The Design Team includes House Company Members: Nathan Allen (director/playwright),Collette Pollard (scenic designer), Lee Keenan (costume designer), Ben Wilhelm (lighting designerer), Kevin O'Donnell (Sound Designer/composer) and Brian DesGranges (stage manager), with guest artist Harrison Adams (co-Sound Designer).
ABOUT NATHAN ALLEN, writer and director
Nathan Allen founded The House Theatre of Chicago with friends in 2001 and continues to lead the company as Artistic Director. Writing and directing credits include Death & Harry Houdini, The Sparrow, Rose and the Rime, and The Hammer Trinity (The Iron Stag King, The Crownless King, and The Excelsior King.) He also wrote and starred in The Valentine Trilogy (San Valentino and The Melancholy Kid, Curse of the Crying Heart, and Valentine Victorious) and directed The Magnificents by Dennis Watkins, with whom he created the weekly magic show, The Magic Parlour. Nathan's work has been seen on the stages of The House, The Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, The Stoneham Theatre in Boston, Strawdog Theatre, The Neo-Futurarium, Collaboraction, and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Nathan has received acknowledgements from the Joseph Jefferson Awards, The Orgie Awards, and The American College Theatre Festival. He has been named an Associate Artist at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, and received the Emerging Leader Award from his alma mater, Southern Methodist University.
ABOUT Dennis Watkins, actor and magician
Dennis Watkins, a third-generation, world-class magician, works as a corporate entertainer, mentalist, and event speaker, and is also a classically trained actor, playwright and director. A founding Company Member with The House Theater of Chicago, Watkins has played Harry Houdini in every production of Death & Harry Houdini, winning a Joseph Jefferson Award for Artistic Specialization in Magic Design for the 2012 production. Dennis has worked as a writer, director and/or actor on over 20 productions with The House Theatre of Chicago since 2001, including the long-running The Magic Parlour playing at the The Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel. He has also worked with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Writers Theatre, Next Theatre, Court Theatre, Vittum Theater, RoadWorks Productions, Uma Productions, Live Bait Theatre and Strawdog Theatre Company, among others.