How this lost Marx Brothers musical was found, so to speak, and then brought back to life, is explained in this excellent article in the New Yorker, and then more thoroughly, in the book, Gimme A Thrill, by Noah Diamond.
Seeing I'll Say She Is got me thinking about re-creations, and also about live theater. I had only ever seen the Marx Brothers on the screen. But as Noah Diamond, (the re-creator of the show, as well as the actor playing Groucho) said, "The Marx Brothers were primarily not cinematic artists, but a live act, and the presence of the audience was a key component." Indeed, seeing the Brothers cavorting onstage, live, was an experience vastly different than watching the films. and it was another reminder that my own show, The Suitcase of Wonders, is also best appreciated live. In this age of YouTube, where many young magicians almost exclusively appear, Diamond's comment rings true for magic performance as well - It is best seen live.
I'll Say She Is also made me appreciate the value of the historical re-creation of live performances. Every two years, there occurs the exclusive Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. As part of the festivities, one or more stage illusions from the past are re-created, sometimes for the first time since their last appearance, as in the case of Hooker's Rising Cards, last performed in 1918 before being re-created by John Gaughhan in 2007.
While the two Houdini-inspired effects in my show are not technically re-creations done in miniature, I like to think they share some of the same "magic" from their first incarnations, Who knows, maybe one day, someone will watch Smallini's Vanishing Elephant who also saw Houdini's original. Sound impossible? Noah Diamond recollects in his book meeting a ninety-two year-old man attending his recent show, (the man was the son of a horn player in the original I'll Say She Is orchestra), who remembers seeing I'll Say She Is in the twenties, thereby making him the only living person to have seen both productions.