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Blinn College-Brenham Theatre Arts Program opens 2022-23 season with 'Houdini' Oct. 6-9

Play about the life of the famous escape artist will be held at the Dr. W.W. O'Donnell Performing Arts Center

Play about the life of the famous escape artist will be held at the Dr. W.W. O'Donnell Performing Arts Center

September 23, 2022

The amazing story of one of the world’s greatest magicians will kick off the Blinn College-Brenham Campus Theatre Arts Program’s 2022-23 productions.

“Houdini” will be staged at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Oct. 6 and 7, and Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8 and 9, at the Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center.

“This play – part biography and part fantasy – offers a spectacular look at the life of world-renowned escape artist Harry Houdini,” said Theatre Arts Professor Brad Nies, who is directing the production. “I think this play will appeal to young audiences, Houdini devotees, and ‘escape artists’ everywhere.”

“Houdini” is in keeping with “Magic in the Air,” the theme of this year’s four plays that will be staged, Nies added.

Other productions are:

  • “The Day Before Christmas,” 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2, and 2 p.m. Dec. 3 and 4;
  • “Vinegar Tom,” 7 p.m. Feb. 16 and 17, and 2 p.m. Feb. 18 and 19;
  • and “Ladies at the Alamo,” 7 p.m. April 27-28, and 2 p.m. April 29 and 30.

In addition to the plays, the program’s improvisation troupe “Slaphappy” will perform Oct. 13 and April 4, both at 7 p.m. at the O’Donnell Center.

Tickets are $5 and available at

Garrison Rutledge has the title role, with Lilly Marrs as his wife Beatrice. Other cast members are Josiah Fernandez, Marco Bone; Y’Lila Willis, Volonty; Christopher Westerlund as Grattan, the warden, Conan Doyle, judge No. 3, and medical student No. 1; Steve Torres as Bill the Tall Man, the prisoner, medical student No. 2, and judge No. 1; Maygen Meadows as Ariana, the physician, Lady Doyle, judge No. 2, and medical student No. 2; Jayden Peavy as Whitsun; and Aiden McAllister as Epictetus.

Crew members are Alyssa Hale, stage director and dramaturg; Samantha Nolen, assistant stage manager and dramaturg; Bianca O’Neal, understudy; Luke Parker, properties master; Alexandria Cuellar, light board operator; Jaylon Kelley, sound board operator; Cedric Bernard, projections operator; and Benedite Trecy, front of house manager.

This will be the first lead role for Rutledge, a sophomore from Bellville. Rutledge was memorable in the role of the Hairy Man in last season’s production of “Wiley and the Hairy Man.”

“It’s exciting to show off parts of me that I’ve never really showed on stage before,” he said. “Last year, I was just putting on a caricature as the Hairy Man. This year there’s just so much emotion and motivation in everything Houdini does. It’s just so interesting trying to put what his life was as accurately as I can on stage.”

Rutledge, who has researched Houdini’s life extensively, said he thinks the magician was driven by a desire to impress his father, a Jewish rabbi.

“I don’t think Houdini was as mysterious as most people make him out to be. He was a very simple man who wanted to show off to the world,” he said. “He was a showman. His father did not want him to be a magician. After his father died, I think Houdini’s purpose was to impress everyone so he could impress his father. This is just a great story to watch. The fame just eats him up, and he loses his relationships with most of his loved ones.”

Nies said this year’s theme was chosen with an eye on again filling the O’Donnell Center.

“The kids put their hearts and souls into this,” he said. “It’s exciting to see them grow and to see them come out of this (pandemic) situation. The students we have now are the ones who lost out on their (high school) senior years because of the pandemic. They’re hungry to perform. They’re chomping at the bit, hopefully as much as our audiences will be.”

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