The dramatic new play, ‘HOUDINI’, which premieres at Stoke Repertory Theatre on September 9th before embarking on a UK tour will feature a dynamic young cast: Jamie Nichols as Harry Houdini, award winning actor and ‘Houdini’ writer Stuart Brennan as Theo, Harry Houdini’s brother, Evanna Lynch, ex-Harry Potter alumni, as Bess, Harry’s wife, Mark Lyminster as actor and promoter Martin Beck, and Ion Patrick Ridge as Douglas Geoffrey.
‘HOUDINI’ is about the life of two of the greatest performers the world has ever known – the Houdini Brothers: stuntmen, illusionists, magicians. The play is set throughout – and beyond – the astonishing career of the great Harry Houdini. Theatre Giant’s creative director Peter Snee will direct Stuart Brennan’s sharply observed script with a creative dream team that includes costume designer Fraz Roughton, sound designer Daffyd Gough, and composer Tord Brudevoll.
THEATRE GIANT director Peter Snee commented: “After many weeks of hard work and careful deliberation, we are absolutely delighted to announce that we’ve found the perfect cast for the UK touring production of ‘Houdini’. We actually held auditions at the Hippodrome in London which was particularly fitting because Harry Houdini himself performed at the Hippodrome more than 100 years ago with a thrilling handcuff escape performance. Jamie Nichols amazed us all with his own handcuff escape and it was swiftly clear that Jamie possessed the charm, charisma and physical prowess required to undertake the immense task of playing the greatest magician who ever lived.
“In casting the other principal roles – Theo, Bess, Martin, Douglas – it became clear that the actors expertly captured with incredible delicacy the light and dark tones of the script, making us want to laugh and cry in the same scene. I’m very excited that we have a truly talented ensemble and I can’t wait to start rehearsals and open at my home town of Stoke on Trent on September 9th.”
MEET THE CAST
JAMIE NICHOLS (Harry Houdini)
Jamie trained at Bodens College of Performing Arts; he recently played Luke Prospect in Rikki Beadle-Blair’s Gutted at Theatre Royal, Stratford.
“This is an exciting challenge for me,” says Jamie Nichols. “I’m doing scuba training, learning sleight-of-hand techniques, card tricks and some magic routines. I’ve tried them out on a few friends and I keep a deck of cards in my pocket at all times, so I can practise at any time! I’m also working with amazing dietician/personal trainer James Farmer on reducing my body fat down to 8% while at the same time hugely increasing my flexibility. Harry Houdini began training weights when he was a mere 15 year old lad to build the body required for stunts he had planned, so I’m very committed to getting my physical state exactly right in order to really support pulling some of his routines immaculately. They deserve nothing less.”
STUART BRENNAN (Theo Houdini)
While Stuart was studying for his BA in Drama at Winchester University he performed in over 25 theatrical productions and films and his graduation piece was performed additionally at the Theatre Royal in Winchester. In 2001, while he was still a student, he founded Burn Hand Film Productions and to date has produced over 20 shorts and features working with many stars including Rutger Hauer, Shane Richie, Edward Furlong, Sean Pertwee, John Noble, and Corey Feldman. In 2011 he became the first Englishman to win the BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Actor, for his portrayal of boxing legend Howard Winstone in the film ‘Risen’, a film he was also made an honorary WBC World Boxing Champion for, in recognition of his boxing feats in the film. Recently he was the lead role in the feature film ‘The Reverend’ opposite Tamer Hassan and in Loaded Magazine’s first foray into film, as the lead male in the film ‘Serial Kaller’. After Houdini he will be starring as the lead role in the movie ‘Tomorrow’ which is the first British film to be Executive Produced by film legend Martin Scorsese.
EVANNA LYNCH (Bess Houdini) is well known for playing Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film series in which she was cast, at the age of 14 in the fifth film in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Originally from County Louth in Ireland and now based in California, Evanna studied drama at the Centre for the Talented Youth of Ireland and continued her lessons while on the Harry Potter set. “I have so much admiration for Bess Houdini,” says Evanna. “I’ve always been fascinated by the muse in the lives of artists; without them we would not have the people who inspire us and become our icons. There is always someone strong and loyal behind these restless, troubled, often very difficult souls, who keep them together and give them the strength to overcome adversity. Bess was this to Harry. She was the one constant feature in his life, and that consistency was instrumental to his success and enduringly strong spirit, living in an ever-changing landscape and working in a ruthless industry where his life was literally put to risk every single night. People were constantly trying to outsmart him or expose him as a fraud. Imagine how tortured he must have been! He had some wild dreams and even wilder methods and it took someone who had the capacity to love so deeply in order to be willing to go the distance with him. That’s what Bess did.”
ION PATRICK RIDGE (Douglas Geoffrey)
Born in Bucharest, Romania and raised in Stoke on Trent, Ion’s acting career took off at the age of 10 when he played the role of Tiny Tim in the New Vic Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol. Ion was hooked and he stayed involved with the New Vic Youth Theatre for several years, working later for Borderlines, part of the New Vic’s educational outreach programme. Ion then studied Performing Arts at Stoke on Trent College before completing his training at Arts Educational School London.
“Harry Houdini was such a gifted showman,” says Ion Ridge, “and you can’t help admire him for his incredible achievements. It’s going to be really interesting being on tour with magic and illusion, two of my favourite things, and I’m also delighted to be working with an amazing company of people I admire.”
‘HOUDINI’ will be at the Stoke Repertory Theatre from 9th September 2013 – 14th September 2013. For more information or for tickets visit www.stokerep.org.uk
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