‘A Death-Defying Escape’ — Magician Judy Carter Performs her Slight of Show

By Ernest Kearney Judy Carter packs a lot of diversity in her petite package; Jewish, Lesbian, comedienne, abuse survivor, hopeless romantic, dedicated magician, loving sister and natural born kvetcherkeb.

Her one-woman show, A Death-Defying Escape!, at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood, opens with a grainy clip of Harry Houdini performing an escape of his own from the restraints of chains coiled about him. Carter betrays the secret of the trick, revealing that when the chains were first wound around Houdini, he would expand his huge barrel chest to its fullest, then when shackled firm he would exhale creating some wiggle room, from which he could then work free.

In order to escape, Carter observes, “We need to make ourselves bigger.”

Carter’s show weaves that observation through a Reader’s Digest retelling of a troubled childhood, a confused sexual orientation, and a struggle to succeed in the testosterone-soaked realm of professional magic. Her story is certainly one to invoke our sympathy and her triumph over the hardships she recounts earns our respect.

She successfully blunts the jagged edges of her ordeal with interjections of Vegas Lounge hocus-pocus and a steady stream of self-effacing humor.

Speaking of her awkwardness as a child she tells us, “I was too fat for ballet. My tutu was a three-three.”

And in speaking of her awkwardness as a lesbian of a certain age she laments, “I’m too old to be a cougar, I’m a saber-tooth tiger.”

Lyndsi LaRose and Kevin Scott Allen ably take on a variety of roles in support of Carter, and Lee Costello piles up the theatrical razzle-dazzle at every opportunity, but in the end it’s just not possible to pull a rabbit out of the hat of this just marginally magical show.

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(Featured Image: Judy Carter / Photo by Jenny Graham)

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A Death-Defying Escape!
Continues through May 15:

In Person:

• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: April 23. April 30, May 7, April 14
• Sundays at 3 p.m.: April 24, May 1, May 8, May 15

Currently Streaming:
• On Demand

Hudson Guild Theatre
6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

A Death-Defying Escape! is appropriate for ages 15 and up; it includes mature content and is not intended for young audiences.

For Tickets and Additional Information go to


Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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