Letters to West 113th at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Letters to West 113th. Photo credit Erinn Watson. Design by Jeff Newman.
Letters to West 113th. Photo credit Erinn Watson. Design by Jeff Newman.

Letters to West 113th by Jeff Newman
August 18, 20, 21, 24 – 26 at the Yardbird Suite

An interview with Jeff Newman.

Describe your show in one sentence.

Letters To West 113th is an incredible magic and mentalism show that tells the story of a little-known magician in the 1920’s that, following the death of his wife, returns to the stage with a spectacular – and maybe even supernatural – show.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description of your show?

I use my skills of trickery and deception to tell an incredible tale. Near the end of his career, Harry Houdini spent countless hours investigating (and debunking) psychics, mediums, and spiritualists who claimed incredible supernatural abilities. Letters To West 113th recreates Houdini’s confrontation at the final performance of Thomas Whitford, a magician known for re-emerging into the spotlight after the death of his wife Tessa with an act that stirred rumours of incredible supernatural talent from the audiences that saw the show.

Where did you get the idea for Letters to West 113th from, and specifically why did you want to interweave a magic show so tightly with a storyline?

First and foremost, we wanted to create a performance that was different from most other magic shows; something that stood out thematically and artistically. We wanted to include a plot or a narrative that not only told an engaging and compelling story, but we wanted something that also tied in thematically with the style of magic that we’ve become known for. When we discovered all the stories of Houdini’s exposures of mediums and spiritualists of his era, we were not only fascinated by the stories themselves, but we instantly knew that they were the backbone of the Letters To West 113th narrative. After endless research, writing, and planning, Letters To West 113th was born.

Where does the title of the show, Letters to West 113th, come from?

Bess and Harry Houdini lived in a house on West 113th street in New York. The story in the show revolves around two letters sent to the Houdini home. The first comes from Houdini’s brother Theodore, which outlines the spectacular rumours that surround Whitford and his performances. The second letter comes from…well, you’ll need to see the show to find out more.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

This is a magic show like you’ve never seen before. Not only is it packed with incredible magic, mind-reading, and mystery that will make you gasp and cheer, it has an incredible story that will touch your heart and leave you speechless. This show is definitely not to be missed!