Cynthia von Buhler‘s hard-boiled comic series Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini sees its debut as a hardcover collection next week, but that’s not the only offering from the prohibition-era gumshoe you’ll see in the coming months. We mentioned in our piece about the hardcover and interview with von Buhler that the comic was being adapted into a theatrical production. Said von Buhler:
I became interested in investigative work because of the mysterious, unexplained murder of my bootlegging grandfather in New York City. My mother was born the day he died so we never knew him. He was a mythic figure who ran speakeasies with my grandmother in New York City. I always thought he was in the mafia. My investigation, and the Speakeasy Dollhouse immersive play, proved otherwise. I’ve also researched and held an immersive play in an old Broadway theater about the mysterious poisoning death of the Ziegfeld girl, Olive Thomas. That will be Minky’s next adventure. There are so many more Prohibition-era crimes I want to investigate. Ms. Woodcock has her work cut out for her.
A Kickstarter campaign was launched for the production, and it ends a week from today. As of press time it’s closing in on being fully funded, but is still several thousand dollars away from its goal. In the interest of disclosure: I myself am a recent backer of the show, as several theatrical collaborators of mine happen to be performing in it. However, I started covering this story long before they were cast. As a producer of independent theater myself, I’m intrigued by the concept of turning a comic book series into an immersive play. This also isn’t the first time I’ve reported on a collision of the comic and theatrical realms.
So what can Minky fans expect from the performance? In a press release, producers described this experience this way:
Audience members will witness Harry Houdini’s final days through an immersive theater experience in which they are assigned a character to follow and then view events through that character’s point of view. They might find themselves attending a séance, helping the magician rehearse backstage, sipping absinthe in a speakeasy, spying on an affair in a hotel room, witnessing an attempted murder, visiting Houdini in his hospital room, or viewing his body in the morgue. All attendees “travel via train” to watch Houdini’s final month of performances, including his iconic Water Torture Chamber act, in Rhode Island, Montreal and Detroit.
In addition to immersive theater like Speakeasy Dollhouse, von Buhler is the force behind The Illuminati Ball and Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic, which she called “an exploration of the death of Ziegfeld Girl and silent film star Olive Thomas staged at a long-hidden Broadway theater uncovered in Times Square.”
Back in May von Buhler announced via twitter that a second series of Minky is forthcoming. which takes its inspiration from the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic show. It’s a case of comics becoming theatre, and theatre becoming comics.
Previews of The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini take place between September 27 and October 4, 2018 at Theatre 80, 78 – 80 St. Marks Place, Manhattan, NY 10003. The show runs from Wednesday through Saturday, September 27 to November 10, 2018 at 7-10:30pm. For tickets and information, click here.
You can find Cynthia von Buhler on twitter.