Malibu Playhouse Presents World Premiere of FLIM FLAM: HOUDINI AND THE HEREAFTER', Now thru 8/3

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The fourth play in MALIBU PLAYHOUSE's 2013-2014 season will be the World Premiere of Flim-Flam: Houdini and the Hereafter by Gene Franklin Smith,, opening tonight, June 20, 2014. The play will be directed by Thomas James O'Leary and stars Rick D. Wasserman, Melissa Kite, Gigi Bermingham, Peter Van Norden, Sabra Malkinson and Cameron Mitchell Jr.

Tickets are $30 for Fridays, $34 for Saturday nights and Sunday matinees, and may be purchased through the box office, online at or by calling 323-960-7711. There will be previews on June 18th and 19th for $20. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Malibu Playhouse is located at 29243 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 (near Zuma Beach, between Kanan-Dume Road and Morning View Drive, near Heathercliff Road).

Based on actual events, in Flim Flam during the summer of 1922, Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle team to investigate psychic mediums for the Scientific American committee. Their friendship is challenged when Conan Doyle champions a beautiful and seductive psychic as authentic. Houdini is determined to prove that she is a phony, until she appears to make contact with Houdini's beloved dead mother, and he must confront his own beliefs about life-after-death.

Playwright Gene Franklin Smith is the Artistic Director of Malibu Playhouse. He studied playwriting with renown playwright, poet and Russian translator, F.D. Reeve at Wesleyan University where Gene's first play, an adaptation of Tender Is The Night, was produced. Other produced plays include Adults in Love, Life Beneath The Roses (winner, David James Ellis Memorial Award, finalist at Dayton Playhouse FuturFest and the Great Platte River Playwrights Festival), Created Equal and Rubicon. Gene was the Founding Artistic Director of Write Act Repertory company, where his plays Devil's Consort, Transports of the Heart and Charles Dickens' Bleak House received world premieres. In 2008, his play Boise, USA premiered at the Matrix Theatre and was featured on NPR's All Things Considered. The screenplay of Boise, USA won Best Drama in the 2008 Creative World Awards. Gene's short play Go Thy Way With Joy was performed in Playwrights Arena's FLASH Theatre LA.

Director Thomas James O'Leary Thomas starred in the title role of Broadway's longest-running play, The Phantom of the Opera, for almost three years, including the production's 10th anniversary performance. He originated the role of Captain Schultz in Broadway's Miss Saigon and was in the original casts of the first national companies of Les Miserables and Chess. He has performed in over a hundred plays Off-Broadway and regionally, and in 2011, he received an LA Weekly Award for his performance in Take Me Out at the Celebration Theatre. His directing credits include several world premieres in Los Angeles, including Dusty de los Santos by Boni B. Alvarez and An Ohio Tragedy by Tami Tirgrath for the Skylight Theatre, The Escape Artist's Children by Steve Harper at Celebration Theatre, and an original adaptation of Beckett's The Lost Ones for Trinity Rep's Studio B in Rhode Island. Recently Thomas directed Thoroughly Modern Millie at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and co-directed one of the first full-score productions of Les Miserables for the California Youth Conservatory Theatre at the Lyceum Theatre in San Diego.

Of the play, O'Leary says, "I find this play intriguing on many levels - Houdini's attachment to debunking spiritualists juxtaposed with his attachment to his mother after she died is such a rich paradox explored throughout the play. I'm fascinated by the relationship between Houdini and his close friend Arthur Conan Doyle who fervently believed in the hereafter, and the relationships between those two iconic figures and their powerful wives. With this incredible cast, we get to explore many levels along the spectrum of truth, and why it matters so much to those who seek for it."

The cast for Flim Flam includes: Gigi Bermingham as "Lady Jean Conan Doyle", Melissa Kite as "Bess Houdini", Sabra Malkinson as "Mina Crandon", Cameron Mitchell Jr as "Dr. Leroi Crandon", Peter Van Norden as "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" and Rick D. Wasserman as "Harry Houdini".

Gigi Bermingham ("Lady Jean Conan Doyle") recently received her second Ovation Award for her performance as Maria Callas in Master Class, having previously won for her solo comedy performance in Non-Vital Organs. A member of the Antaeus Company, Gigi has appeared in many Antaeus productions as well as Pasadena Playhouse (The Heiress), The Old Globe (Henry V), The Odyssey Theatre (Tartuffe), The Blank Theatre (The Cradle Will Rock), the Rubicon Theatre (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) and the New York Shakespeare Festival (Twelfth Night).

Melissa Kite ("Bess Houdini") most recently appeared in The Dream of the Burning Boy at Malibu Playhouse, winning critical acclaim for her performance. A lifetime member of the Actors Studio, Melissa's theatrical credits include: Boise, USA, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antigone, That Good Night, A Quadrimonial and Women of Manhattan. Television credits include: Bunheads, Big Love, America's Most Wanted and House.

Sabra Malkinson ("Mina Crandon") received her BFA from Colorado University. Los Angeles theatre credits include: Orpheus Descending, Macbeth (Colorado Shakespeare Festival), The Trial, A Patriot For Me (both at Write Act Repertory Company) and The Philadelphia Story (Court Theater). Other credits include commercials, print ads and a recurring role on Days of Our Lives.

Cameron Mitchell Jr. ("Dr. Leroi Crandon") most recently appeared as "Pawnie" in Malibu Playhouse's production of Noel Coward's The Vortex. He is a graduate of the Central School of Speech and Drama and has performed in many stage productions in the U.S. and Canada, including Boise, USA, Charles Dickens' Bleak House, A Patriot For Me, The Price, The Diary of Anne Frank and More Haunted Masters. Mitchell hails from "old" Hollywood parentage, and his film and television credits include Hollywoodland, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, Master Spy: The Robert Hansen Story and Queer As Folk.

Peter Van Norden ("Sir Arthur Conan Doyle") is a member of the Antaeus Company, where he most recently appeared in The Liar. Other performances include Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (LA Shakespeare Center), Willie in The Sunshine Boys (Arizona Theatre Company), Henry Kissinger in LA TheatreWorks' production of Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers (in New York and China), and as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray (San Diego Repertory).

Rick D. Wasserman ("Harry Houdini") made his Broadway debut in The Lion King which he also performed at L.A.'s Pantages Theatre. Off-Broadway, regional and Los Angeles credits include: Letters From Cuba (Signature Theatre), The Tin Pan Alley Rag (Wilma Theatre, Barrymore nomination), The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Denver Center Theatre Company and The Missouri Rep), Betrayal (Matrix Theatre) and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Black Dahlia Theatre). For the past ten years he has been the signature voice for AMC.

Malibu Playhouse Board Members Julia Holland and Andi Howard will produce.

Flim Flam opens Friday, June 20, 2014 with a Red Carpet Gala ($50) and runs through Sunday, August 3, 2014. Single tickets for regular performances are Fridays $30.00 and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees $34.00. Low priced previews are Wednesday, June 18 and Thursday, June 19 at 8 PM ($20.00). Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets may be purchased through the box office at, online or by calling 323-960-7711. There may also be tickets available at the box office the day of each performance, however advance reservations are recommended.

Malibu Playhouse is located at 29243 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 (near Zuma beach, between Kanan-Dume Road and Morning View Drive, near Heathercliff Road). Phone 310-589-1998. For more information visit the website:

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