Houdini: La Magia del Amor (Houdini: The Magic of Love), a new Mexican musical will receive its world-premiere tonight at Mexico City´s Teatro Benito Juarez. Originally scheduled to open Oct. 23, the opening was postponed to Oct. 31, but due to some technical difficulties; Houdini was postponed again for a Nov. 5 opening night.
The main story of this new musical is inspired by the life of the legendary magician-escape artist, Harry Houdini, whose real name was Ehrich Weiss. The plot explores Houdini´s career and his relationships with his life long love, Bess Rahner; and with his possessive mother, Cecilia Weiss.
The best seat of the house has been reserved for a very special guest, the Spirit of Harry Houdini, who was invited to the opening night of his musical during a spiritualist session that was held at the Teatro Benito Juarez on Oct. 31, 1996.
Among the theatre celebrities invited to the opening night are actress/producer Silvia Pinal (who is planning a Gypsy revival for 1998) and producer Fela Fabregas (who will produce the Mexican premiere of Crazy for You).
Rafael Perrin, who recently directed The Woman in Black and the revival of Run for Your Wife!, is directing this eagerly awaited musical, which features music by Antonio Calvo and lyrics by Patricia Perrin. This through-sung musical will feature Houdini´s most famous magic and escape acts on stage, including the "Straitjacket" and the "Water Torture Cell", which has been qualified as a "high risk act".
Calvo, who composed the music for the show, is also in charge of staging the re-creation of Houdini´s escape and magic acts. As a magician, Calvo has performed worldwide, and has participated in many Magician Championships, including the 1988 World Magician Championship in Holland, where he won the first prize.
As a composer, Calvo has written several musicals that have been produced at the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, one of Mexico´s most important colleges. He wrote music for the annual Ariel Award Ceremony, which is the Mexican top award in the film industry and has also completed a musical version of the famous Spanish drama Don Juan Tenorio by Jose Zorrilla, which he plans to produce in the near future.
Calvo, who holds a music degree from the University of Berkley, also wrote the book for Houdini: La Magia del Amor, along with Rafael and Patricia Perrin.
Designing Houdini´s sets is Monica Raya, who is back in Mexico after completing her master´s degree at Yale University; Oriet Fernandez is the costume designer, Jorge Alvarez Miranda is the lighting designer and Guillermo Tellez (from the Mexican cast of Hello, Dolly!) is choreographing.
Starring as Harry Houdini is Enrique Chi, who recently appeared in Los Musicales (The Musicals), a Mexican musical revue in the style of Forbidden Broadway. Chi has been submitted to a rigorous physical training in order to be able to perform Houdini's complex acts on stage.
Also in the cast of this romantic, magical and mysterious musical are Lupita Sandoval as Cecilia Weiss, Luis Elizondo as Theo Weiss, Lorena de la Garza as Bess Rahner, Goretti as Mary Rahner, Gladys Bermejo as Yirina Yureskova, Alberto Castillo as Priest Arthur Ford and Ricardo Morel as Lu-Ying-Pu.
Calvo told Playbill On-Line that this musical was conceived not only for Mexico, but for the world; and if the Mexican production succeeds, he hopes to find investors to produce the show on Broadway. It's being rumored that some New York producers have been invited to the opening night.
Calvo announced Houdini´s musical numbers and scenes exclusively to Playbill On-Line. Here is the complete list in English and Spanish:
1- "Crystal Ball" (Bola de Cristal) Yirina Yureskova (the medium)
2- "The King of Magic" (El Rey de la Magia) Ensemble
3- "I´ll Love You Forever" (Siempre te Amare) Bess Rahner
4- "Faith" (Fe) Priest Arthur Ford & Yirina Yureskova
5- "Welcome to Coney Island" (Bienvenidos a Coney Island) Ensemble
6- "The Confession" (La Confesion) Theo Weiss & Harry Houdini
7- "Injustice" (Que Injusticia) Cecilia Weiss
8-"My Life is Yours" (Por ti mi Vida Doy) Harry & Cecilia
9- "The Three Weddings" (Las Tres Bodas) Harry, Bess & Ensemble
10- "Medicine Man" (El Farmaceutico) The Medicine Man
11- "Linden Tea" (Te de Tila) Medicine Man, Mary & Theo
12- "Metamorphosis" (Metamorfosis) Harry & Bess
13- "Letters and Words" (Letras y Palabras) Harry, Bess & Audience
14- "The Explanation" (La Explicacion) Harry, Bess & Theo
15- "The Audition" (La Audicion) Cecilia, Bess, Theo, Harry & Martin Beck
16- "At the Hospital" (En el Hospital) Doctor, Nurse, Theo & Harry
17- "My Resolution" (Mi Decision) Cecilia, Theo, Bess & Harry
18- "The Magic of Love" (La Magia del Amor) Harry
19- "Scotland Yard" (Scotland Yard) Conan Doyle, Policeman, Harry & Ensemble.
1- "Levitation" (Levitacion) Harry, Yirina & Assistant
2- "Crossing Dimensions" (Cruzando Dimesiones) Yirina, Harry, Assistants & Manager
3- "The Telegram/Cecilia's Death" (El Telegrama/La Muerte de Cecilia) Harry & Bess
4- "The Hidden Message" (El Mensaje Oculto) Bess, Theo & Harry
5- "The Mediums" (Las Mediums) Theo, Harry & Mediums
6- "My Life is Yours" (Por ti mi Vida Doy) Harry & Bess
7- "Chinese Water Torture Cell" (La Camara China de Tortura) Lu Ying Pu, Harry, Bess, Students & Assistants
8- "Houdini´s Death" (La Muerte de Houdini) Newsmen, Harry, Bess & Theo
9- "I´ll Love You Forever" (Siempre te Amare) Bess
10- "Your Will be Done" (Hagase tu Voluntad) Priest Arthur Ford & Bess
11- "The Magic of Love" (La Magia del Amor) Priest Arthur Ford, Bess & the Spirit of Harry Houdini
This production of Houdini: La Magia del Amor will be performed in Spanish.
Coincidentally, an American musical based on Houdini's life recently opened at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.
A cast recording of the Mexican show is planned, and according to Antonio Calvo will be released approximately in two months.The title song of the show, "La Magia del Amor" ("The Magic of Love") will be recorded by a popular Mexican singer; whose name will be revealed shortly.
On Oct. 19, Calvo premiered a 10-minute suite from Houdini at a concert in which the Carlos Chavez Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by Enrique Diazmunos, played a "Tribute to Broadway" which featured music by Bernstein, Loewe, Bock and Lloyd Webber.
A website that will include pictures and music selections from the show will be launched shortly.
Houdini: La Magia del Amor is produced by Antonio Calvo and OCESA, the latter is the Mexican entertainment company that co-produced Beauty and the Beast in Mexico.
You can be part of Houdini's magic at the Teatro Benito Juarez from Wed. to Fri. at 8:30 PM, Sat. at 5:30PM & 8:30PM, and Sun. at 5PM & 8PM. Tickets ($150 Mexican Pesos) are available through Ticketmaster at (5) 325 9000.
--By Claudio Carrera