The 71st annual Houdini Seance, held this year on the stage of Goodspeed Opera House, apparently was a success -- more or less.
Speaking through professional medium Elaine Kuzmeskus, the spirit of the world-famous magician, who died in 1926, reportedly spoke to actors who are performing in a new musical based on his life.
The annual event got underway at 11 PM on the stage in East Haddam, CT, with a history of the magician and his vow to return to earth as a spirit on the anniversary of his Oct. 31 death. At one minute past midnight on Halloween, the seance got underway, conducted by Kuzmeskus with about a dozen special invited guests holding hands in a circle on the stage, and ticket-buying guests in the audience, according to Goodspeed spokesperson Jennifer Wislocki.
After about five minutes of silence to gain rapport with the spirits, Kuzmeskus stood on her chair and reportedly said, “We have many spirits here,” including Margery [a psychic friend of Houdini’s] and Houdini himself. She put her hand on the shoulder of the actor playing Houdini and said the real Houdini wanted to congratulate him on his hard work preparing for the role, sympathized about a hurt shoulder -- which he indeed had, and promised “he’s with you whenever you call on him.”
The deceased magician also reportedly said he liked the musical. There were other messages from other spirits for people around the circle as well, but no more from Houdini. Wislocki said no mention was made of David Copperfield, Ragtime (another current musical with Houdini as a character), or hints as to which way the stock market will swerve next.
Unfortunately, the spirit speaking through Kuzmeskus also was unable to answer questions about Houdini’s personal life from Sidney Radner, a member of a society that hosts the seances and verifies such materializations. Also, the spirit was unable to unlock a pair of Houdini’s own handcuffs brought for the occasion. Before his death, Houdini left the cuffs in his brother’s safekeeping, saying that if he could return to earth from the afterlife, he would unlock them as a sign that it was truly his wraith. The handcuffs remained resolutely locked.
“It was very dramatic, but in the end we had no physical evidence that Houdini had actually appeared,” Wislocki said.
Houdini has music by William Scott Duffield, book by James Racheff (Abyssinia) and lyrics by Duffield and Racheff. The production runs through Dec. 14. For tickets or information: (860) 873-8664.
-- By Robert Viagas