Theatrical Outfit’s ‘Dancing Handkerchief’ Casts Magic Spell

Tom Key. artistic director of the Theatrical Outlet, stars in "The Dancing Handkerchief."
Tom Key. artistic director of the Theatrical Outlet, stars in "The Dancing Handkerchief."
Credit / Theatrical Outfit


When people talk about the “magic of the theatre,” they rarely mean the kind that involves pulling rabbits from hats and pulling doves from thin air.

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But “The Dancing Handkerchief,” which runs June 1–18 at the Theatrical Outfit, injects that old-fashioned magic back onto the stage.

“The daughter of a magician passionately wants to be a rock star,” playwright and director Adam Koplan explained to City Lights host Lois Reitzes. “And her perfectionist and stubborn dad would much rather that she’s his cute and dainty magician’s assistant.”

“You see this role that her father is trying to stuff her into,” lead actor and Theatrical Outfit artistic director Tom Key said. “He gives her a guitar for one of her birthdays and she winds up loving that more than he expected.”

The daughter disrupts one of her father’s shows and accidentally exposes the hidden craft behind the act—an unpardonable offense for a magician—and he disciplines her by breaking her guitar. The daughter runs away and encounters a whimsical land where magic props have come alive.

The play, a co-production between Theatrical Outfit and Koplan’s company, Flying Carpet Theatre, also features a musical score written by Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony-winning composer Robert Lopez (“Frozen,” “Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q”).

“At the center of this piece is the parent-child relationship,” Koplan said. “What fundamentally are the challenges and blessings of a deep parent-child relationship? At first there is a parent who really wants their child to be like them, and a kid who really has their own identity and wants to please their dad. The journey really is about to what degree the kid can become who they’re meant to be and to what degree the parent can recognize that and embrace it.”

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