A trip to the theatre can be magical, and one too rarely experienced these days. Unlike in movies, television or any electronic media, in theatre the actors perform right in front of you, in the same room. The experience is tactile, intimate, human. That much can be said about Chicago Children’s Theatre production of The Houdini Box, a musical based on Brian Selznick’s children’s book. Actors, musicians, and puppets bring this magical and very human story to life on the stage.
As famed escape artist Harry Houdini circles the globe performing one amazing stunt after another, Victor, a young devotee, goes through his own rigorous training—locking himself in closets, holding his breath under water and walking into walls. After a chance encounter with his hero, Victor receives a special box that might contain the secrets of Houdini’s success, the blueprints for the greatest magic tricks ever performed. But will opening it unleash a Pandora’s box of troubles?
Perhaps the most famous magician of all time, Harry Houdini perfected implausible escape acts and performed at the biggest theatres in theUSA. His amazing stunts included suspended straightjacket escapes, and the harrowing Chinese Water Torture Cell escape. He also achieved notoriety as a debunker of self-proclaimed psychics and mediums. He is still highly regarded by contemporary magicians, many who have modeled their acts and personas after his.
Before he wrote the children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret (the source for the hit movie “Hugo”) Brian Selznick penned his delicate tale, The Houdini Box, “a curious story of magic and escapology,” and illustrated it with quirky, brilliant drawings. The Chicago Children’s Theatre production successfully captures the tone and style of the book while giving it theatrical flash and intimacy.
The Houdini Box
January 24-March 4, 2012
The Mercury Theatre
3745 N. Southport Avenue,Chicago
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