The House Theatre

Death and Harry Houdini

The House Theatre of Chicago continues its 10th anniversary season with an all-new re-imagining of the company’s inaugural production and first ever hit, Death and Harry Houdini, opening on January 29, 2011 at The Chopin Theatre (1543 W. Division St.).

Artistic Director Nathan Allen returns to his very first script having spent the last decade developing The House’s voice.  The House’s original production featured magic, music, dance, and film.  Now Allen, along with The House’s incredibly diverse ensemble of artists, bring their experience in creating ensemble theater and devising story to the life of history’s greatest magician, while reaching deep into its bag of tricks to create an altogether new theatrical event.

Company Member, actor and nationally renowned magician Dennis Watkins brings a lifetime of creating magic to the character of Harry Houdini.  Watkins has designed a magical landscape for The House to play in that includes many of Houdini’s original creations, as well as an onslaught of classic magic driving the story’s narrative.

Additionally, Watkins performs Houdini’s most infamous stage escape, The Water Torture Cell, in which he is locked upside down in a tank of water, with only as much time to escape as he has air in his lungs.  The Water Torture Cell, as performed by Houdini, is a rarely-seen stage escape.  Furthermore, The House boasts the first-ever recorded performance of The Water Torture Cell in the round.  This escape gives the audience the one-of-a-kind opportunity to witness magical history from inches away!

House Company Member Carolyn Defrin takes on the role of Houdini’s wife, Bess and Company Member Shawn Pfautsch (recently seen as Cyrano at The House) plays Houdini’s brother, Theo.  Company Member Marika Mashburn plays Houdini’s mother, Cecilia.  Visiting artists Abu Ansari, Kevin Stangler, Trista Smith join the cast.  The ensemble is led by Company Member Johnny Arena as The Ringmaster.

The show features the work of an all-star Company Member Design Team. Collette Pollard has designed a bold industrial set, which is lit by Ben Wilhelm.  Composer Kevin O’Donnell brings a new sound to the show and Lee Keenan designs costumes.

Death and Harry Houdini
Written and Directed by Nathan Allen
Magic by Dennis Watkins
January 29-March 11, 2012
Previews begin January 20


About The House Theatre of Chicago

The House is Chicago’s premier home for original works of physical and spectacle storytelling. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular artform.

The House was founded in 2001 by a group of friends to explore connections between Community and Storytelling through a unique theatrical experience. In 2002 The House was hailed by the Chicago press as “The Next Big Thing.” In early 2007, following dozens of world premiere productions, and national attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Variety, and American Theatre Magazine, The House achieved even greater success with “The Sparrow,” which Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones called, “Among the very best original theater pieces I’ve ever seen.”

Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has been nominated for 45 Joseph Jefferson Awards (17 wins) and became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theater Award in 2007. Now celebrating its 10th year of original work, The House continues its mission to unite Chicago in the spirit of Community through amazing feats of Storytelling.