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Quiet half of Penn & Teller goes behind stage for 'The Exorcist'

May 29, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • Teller of Penn & Teller fame onstage at the Wilshire Theatre in 2002.
Teller of Penn & Teller fame onstage at the Wilshire Theatre in 2002. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Always a man of few (if any) words, the latter half of the enduring comedy-magic duo Penn & Teller will help give a visual voice to the Geffen Playhouse's upcoming stage adaptation of "The Exorcist."

Scheduled to open July 11, the adaptation features Teller as "creative consultant," which sounds a little like he'll be responsible for honing the production's wordless reactions given his day job as silent but game foil to his longtime partner, the garrulous Penn Jillette.

In reality, however, this isn't the first time Teller has ventured behind the stage, where Penn & Teller have made a home in Vegas for six nights a week since 2001. In 2008, Teller co-directed a blood-soaked regional production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" in Red Bank, N.J.

Though said to feature some impressive touches befitting the involvement of a famed magician with a certain dark sensibility, a Washington Post story that ran in the L.A. Times that year found Teller assuring the writer that his touch was relatively light. "There's nothing in the production," Teller said, "that Shakespeare doesn't place before us."

However, given that the production was said to include flourishes where "some characters vanish and some objects levitate," it's reasonable to infer what this will do for the more horrifying moments from William Friedkin's film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's story, including a possessed Regan MacNeal's gravity-defying turns in her bedroom and that stupefying crab-walk scene from the film's 2000 re-release.

Written by John Pielmeier and directed by John Doyle, the Geffen's stage adaptation of the story includes Brooke Shields and Richard Chamberlain as Regan's mother and Father Merrin, and composer John Tavener, whose religious-inspired works should imbue the production with additional spirit.

ALSO:

Teller conjures the magic in 'Macbeth'

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