Abracadabra! The Magic Castle has just turned 100-years-old. The Hollywood landmark has a long and fascinating history that is being celebrated all week, leading up to the “It’s Magic” extravaganza at the Kodak Theatre on Sunday.
Among the centennial festivities, a special performance of Houdini’s famous straightjacket escape is planned high above the castle. Suspended upside down from a crane 100 feet in the air, the escape artist will have a great view of the magnificent mansion that had its construction completed in 1909. It was a private residence known as the Lane Mansion before it became home to the magical arts. The Magic Castle founders, brothers Milt and William Larsen, created the world’s most famous club for magicians and magic enthusiasts, and opened the doors to their showplace on January 2, 1963. Over the years it has become the headquarters of the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.
Milt said, “This place is very special. Dad created the Academy of Magical Arts, and a club for magicians was his dream. So brother Bill and I opened the Magic Castle in 1963, and it has been known as the ‘Mecca of Magic’ ever since. It is a tribute to our father and everyone who has advanced the craft.” A couple of years ago Milt and his late brother William, were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Magic Castle is the showplace for some of the greatest magicians from around the globe. It also houses one of the largest original collections of Houdini’s great tools of the mystifying trade, including his personal handcuffs, straight jacket, metamorphosis trunk and famous milk can escape.
For the centennial celebration, a reception was held inside the Castle and a short Palace of Mystery show was hosted by Romi Dames (Hannah Montana). Wonderful close-up magic was performed and enjoyed by fellow magicians and celebrity guests, including board member Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), a passionate supporter of the magical arts.
The historic Magic Castle has been used in films and TV shows, most recently America’s Next Top Model, Monk, Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef. Among the classic TV shows that used the unique location for filming were Murder She Wrote, Hart to Hart, Barnaby Jones and Matlock.
Six theatres exist within the walls of The Magic Castle, from the Parlor of Prestidigitation and the Penn & Teller stage, to the Palace Theatre itself. Most recently, the Inner Circle area of the Castle has became home to the new Cabaret at the Castle performances. The shows have featured some of Broadway’s biggest names including Carol Channing, Jason Graae, Ilene Graff, Phyllis Diller, Rose Marie, Richard Sherman, Rip Taylor and Jo Anne Worley. The featured artist for the centennial celebration week is Florence Henderson with her one-woman show “All the Lives of Me.”
Cabaret at the Castle features Florence Henderson
Florence Henderson is loved by millions who know her as Carol Brady thanks to the popularity of The Brady Bunch TV classic. But the lovely lady is so much more than the perfect retro-mom. And to show off her many talents, she’s bringing her acclaimed one-woman production of “All the Lives of Me” to the Cabaret at the Castle. Her performances are Monday, Nov. 9 and Tuesday, Nov. 10, and are open to non-members of the Magic Castle, who can call (323) 851-3313 for ticket information. Florence’s show is a musical journey of her life—as a multi-dimensional actress, talk show host, recording artist, author and Broadway veteran. She’s a dynamo who offers an unforgettable evening of entertainment presented in the intimate cabaret setting of the Magic Castle.
“It’s Magic!” 54th Anniversary Show
For an extravagant and spectacular show, the 54th anniversary of “It’s Magic!” is being presented for one night only, Sunday, Nov. 8th at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Host Milt Larsen will welcome special guests Neil Patrick Harris, Romi Dames and Phill Lewis, along with other celebrity presenters, and an amazing line-up of performers such as Lance Burton, Joseph Gabriel, Rudy Coby & Co., Jorge Blass, Shimada and Mac King. Plus Kevin James will be closing the “It’s Magic!” show, on the heels of his invitation to perform for President and Mrs. Obama at the White House. It’s really a command performance, under the direction of Dale Hindman, with producers Terry Hill and Milt Larsen featuring the best international stars with fascinating acts ranging from sleight of hand to mind-boggling stage illusions. It’s a big “Wow.”