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Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, tall and wholesomely-handsome in a very proper British way, is a compelling story teller. He’s been performing since 2001, and touring A Regular Little Houdini, which he also wrote, since 2013. Following an international tour, the New York premiere plays in one of 59E59 Theatres’ most intimate space [50 seats], perfect for up-close and personal Houdini sleight-of- hand and illusions.
Set in Newport, South Wales, he tells of a tenacious young dockworker's son, smitten by Harry Houdini's “amazements,” and, in a world where poverty is a heavy weight, dreams of a life of magic to escape the brutal working-class reality of Edwardian Britain.
Llewelyn-Williams is guarded about publication of his age, but since his first TV credit is in 2006, it might be fair to peg him to early-to-mid 30s. He bills himself as a singer, dancer, fight director, writer, and actor; and works in TV, film, radio, video games, and spoken-word books. He boasts that he can do “basically anything, so bring it on!” He can do magic, so there was the hope he’ll bring it on.
From Newport and trained at LAMDA, the actor/writer’s involved with several theater companies, excelled in The 39 Steps and Tintin on the West End and a Hamlet directed by Terry Hands. He’s been cast in Shakespeare, Shaw, and plays such as Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy, Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, and J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls.
Llewelyn-Williams has won U.K acting awards; three from the Hollywood Fringe Festival. The San Diego Fringe Festival voted A Regular Little Houdini its Best Solo Show. He’s known to fans of Brit TV, for two roles on the long-running, endearing series Eastenders – one in 2007 and as Dr. Rhys Thomas in 2016.
In A Regular Little Houdini, we learn about, undoubtedly, his dock worker grandfather Alan’s coming of age, family struggles, and a very damp run-in with Houdini; not to mention his fascination with Houdini’s Book of Magic, which he’s read “cover to cover, inside out, back to front, upside down” and takes everywhere he goes. There’s even the prospect that one day magic’s “gonna earn us a livin’.” We hear sound bites of Houdini from the Great Beyond urging him to practice.
The two illusions Llewelyn-Williams performs are rather jawdropping; and, of course, whets an audience’s appetite for more. We wait. When, when, when? Then, he segues into suave black tie and tails and produces a top hat. That piece of luggage, the only stage prop, suddenly, magically propels into a magician’s podium. Alright, it’s time! But its blackout. Abracadabra!, finito.
Assuming not just New Yorkers might like to see more of what Llewelyn-Williams can materialize, adding another 20 minutes to strut his stuff would seems a sound idea. With signage touting the incredible Houdini’s name in bold print, it’s reasonable to expect magic.
Joshua Richards, an associate actor at the Royal Shakespeare Company, directs. There’s music by Meg Cox. Quick-change artist Adrian Solar and sleight-of-hand magician Tom Silburn created the illusions.
For a sneak peak at A Regular Little Houdini and a four-minute plus video on Llewelyn-Williams’ career, visit www.danielllewelynwilliams.co.uk/.
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