"Sawing Kathy in half was one of the highlights of my magic career," says producer, director and magic connoisseur Frank Marshall.
He's referring to the stunt he and wife Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, pulled off at his 50th birthday bash at the Pauley Pavilion 22 years ago. Now Marshall is taking his passion for illusion to the L.A. stage with Invisible Tango — his first-ever directorial effort for the theater.
Opening May 7 at the Skirball stage at Westwood's Geffen Playhouse, the one-man show starring magician Helder Guimarães (who consulted on 2018's Ocean's 8) will play to just 100 theatergoers per night through June 30. Tiny audiences are hot in the magic biz right now, but they're a world away from Marshall's usual turf as producer of such blockbusters as the Jurassic franchise (he's currently got at least a dozen films in the works for the Kennedy/Marshall Company, including new docs about The Bee Gees and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival).
"It takes the same amount of work, the same amount of brainpower, and I get the same reward," Marshall says of theater work during a break from rehearsal at the Geffen. As a producer he has three more stage events in development — two at The La Jolla Playhouse (he's just flown in from La Jolla for today's rehearsal) and one at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He's also overseeing the national tour of Escape to Margaritaville, the 2018 Broadway musical he produced with pal Jimmy Buffett.
After rehearsal, Marshall will be off to the nearby Archer School for Girls to set up his DJ equipment for an event celebrating a new academic center (no roadie, he says — "I'm very hands-on"). Hours after that, he'll be in New York, supervising cast replacements for the Margaritaville tour. "I love how everything is happening in the moment, every day,” he says of working in theater. “It's not like it happened and then you go away and cut the movie for eight months.”
Guimarães' show will feature 80 minutes of illusions and storytelling, all set to original music by Moby. "When we met he said, 'I need you to watch me — and guide me,'" says Marshall of his star. "Then he gave me his philosophy, which I loved, because he's not just doing [magic] tricks, he's telling stories."
"It's a conversation about mystery," adds Guimarães. "The experience is better if you don't know much more than that."
A version of this story first appeared in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.