Original Stage Manager”Merlin” Script with Notes

The following script excerpts comes courtesy of John Harrison, author of the excellent biography “Spellbound: The Wonder-Filled Life of Doug Henning.” I’ll be posting it over the next couple of days, but rather than talk about the script myself, I’ll let John explain it further.  “It is Act I, Scene 6 (the final act prior…

The Merlin Understudy that Never Was

The above picture is of Doug with actor Andrew Hill Newman. If history had operated accordingly, Andrew was to have been the first understudy to take over Doug’s role in “Merlin.” However, many of you don’t need this website to tell you that “Merlin” was a somewhat tumultuous production with many ups and downs. Many…

Rare Peter Cunningham “Merlin” Photo

The photograph featured below was taken by well known theater and music photographer Peter Cunningham, and features a stunning image from “Merlin” that I’ve never seen before.  As related to me by its owner Michelle Ainsworth, the photo was purchased from Cunningham himself, and was one of the first times he had photographed a Broadway…

“Merlin” Illusion Breakdown Sheet

Today’s post is a doozy, as it’s not often we get to see the actual illusion breakdown from “Merlin.” The document itself gives us a good idea of the order of the illusions themselves, and just how many there were within the show itself. Now, obviously I had to some redacting in the “How” column….

Handwritten “Merlin” Monthly Expenditure Notes

Money, money, money! It makes the world go round doesn’t it?  The notes featured below list the general costs and supplies that went into producing “Merlin” per month. While $421.74 may not seem like much now for a Broadway show, in 2019 dollars that equals to $1116.84 per month.  Unfortunately, not everything can be conjured…

1983 “Merlin” Animal Breakdown Sheet

If yesterday weren’t enough for you feast your eyes on this detailed breakdown sheet of how the animals in “Merlin” were positioned and used. It really brings you a whole new appreciation to see the level of care and preparation that goes, and still goes into, the usage of magic and animals on stage. Enjoy!…

Original “Merlin” Dressing Notes

“Spellbound” author John Harrison was kind enough to share with me some truly eye-opening items from his Henning collection. If you ever wondered how complex “Merlin” was to put on every night, just look at this “Dressers’  Notes” sheet. This document, and a few you’ll see throughout the week will give you a fascinating window…

Chita Rivera on Merlin Mishaps

As I sit looking out my window on a rainy day in LA, what better time to have a laugh than Chita Rivera recounting a very unintentional and comic moment from”Merlin?” You don’t really hear Chita Rivera talking about “Merlin” much these days. So ,it’s nice to hear this anecdote and see some rare pictures…

Complete Merlin Video Recording

While “Merlin” may not exist as a proper cast album or have a professional video recording, there are “other” less magical copies out there if you know where to look.  Case in point, no one would claim that this recording that recently sprung up on You Tube is of the highest quality. But, it gives…

“Merlin” Cast and Crew Opening Night Statue

This item is something I have never seen before and is probably one of the more rare items in conjunction with “Merlin.” It was apparently given to cast and crew opening night as a gift for their hard work and dedication. Past that I don’t know much about it. Neither does its owner. Without a…

Doug, Chita Rivera, and Mary Martin!

Special Thanks to Ken McCreedy for this rare “meeting of the minds”picture that not many people have probably seen from the time of “Merlin!” Be sure to donate to my Indiegogo campaign for my feature length documentary “Doug Henning’s Magical World.” To view the trailer and contribute please visit: https://bit.ly/2zqM9eY

“Merlin” Golden Key Chain Ticket

As it’s been a while since we’ve talked about “Merlin” on the site, I figured what better time than with today’s post. This commemorative key chain ticket was part of a package deal that you could get along with an expanded program (for an extra charge of course.) That expanded program was featured on the…

“The Magic Show” and “Merlin” Songbooks

Out of the blue this week I received these wonderful pictures from Doug fan Frank Simpson. As you probably gathered, they are the songbooks for the original productions of “The Magic Show” and “Merlin.” While “The Magic Show” did have an official soundtrack, “Merlin” did not. So items like these are even more important as…

Al Hirschfeld Meet Doug Henning

This New York Times article was conducted for the opening of “Merlin.” It’s a great read as you would expect, however the highlight is surely the Al Hirschfeld drawing that opens it. Doug was no stranger to Hirschfeld’s famed pen and pencil after having been previously featured in Hirschfeld’s art for “The Magic Show.” In fact,…

Original Merlin Playbill

Today’s entry comes courtesy of Nancy Henning, and is the original “Playbill” for “Merlin.” A few weeks back, I was fortunate enough to post the more elaborate commemorative program for the show, and it’s interesting to compare and contrast the two. However, in addition to being signed by Doug himself, this “Playbill” also is a…

Merlin Commemorative Program: Part 3

A fun fact that some people may or may not know, is that nestled in the production bios are the writers of “Merlin” Richard Levinson and William Link. Now these names might not mean much to you, but their creations certainly will. Link and Levinson were the creators of the popular mystery shows “Columbo” and…

NY Times “Merlin” Interview: Part 3

FOR HIM, MAGIC IS MORE THAN TRICKS By GLENN COLLINS Published: February 13, 1983 Television newsmen have tried to bribe Mr. Henning’s stagehands – unsuccessfully – to learn his secrets. ”I could patent the illusions,” he said, ”but then anyone could find out how it’s done.” Instead, through the years, the hundreds of people who…

NY Times 1983 “Merlin” Interview: Part 2

FOR HIM, MAGIC IS MORE THAN TRICKS By GLENN COLLINS Published: February 13, 1983 Some of the ”Merlin” magic, like the horse and rider that vanish in midair, or the monster robot that mysteriously comes to life on stage, is new. Other illusions are updated variants of necromantic classics, like the elegant disappearing-duck stunt, based…

NY Times 1983 “Merlin’ Interview

I’ve been thinking recently about “Merlin.” Well, actually I’ve been thinking about how we only really know of it through pictures and some brief You Tube Clips. There was no cast album, and it only really exists through the veil of people’s memories and recollections. While we can’t travel in time, what we can do…

“Merlin” at the Tonys!

It’s a Merlin kind of Monday here at “The Doug Henning Project!” In my You Tube travels, I came across this excellent musical clip from the 1983 Tony Awards featuring the “It’s About Magic” number from Merlin.  As with all things “Merlin,” whenever you find any scenes from the show it’s a rarity. So, please…

People Magazine Interview: Part Three

After Falling Under the Spell of Wife Debby, Doug Henning Hopes to Charm Broadway Again (Part.3) He stuck with magic. In 1973, he borrowed $5,000 from his mother and, with a friend, launched a rock musical-cum-magic show called Spellbound in Toronto. That led to his role in The Magic Show. Though one critic hailed him…

People Magazine Interview: Part Two

After Falling Under the Spell of Wife Debby, Doug Henning Hopes to Charm Broadway Again (Part.2) “My friends said there was practically a flash of light,” says Henning, 35. “I had never felt anything like it in my whole life.” The dazzler was Debby Douillard, 27, an abstract painter with bottomless blue eyes who was…

People Magazine Interview: Part One

In doing some online research I came across this fascinating article from the December 20, 1982 issue of “People” magazine. The interview is notable for two reasons. For one it was written as “Merlin” was just about to open on Broadway, and the other being that it delves into Doug’s new marriage to Debby Douillard (Henning) and the…

Merlin Mania!

What you are about to see are two very rough, but very cool commercials for the original production of  “Merlin! As mentioned before, Merlin was Doug’s 1982 follow-up to “The Magic Show.” Directed by his old college mate Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Twins), the show boasted huge production values and illusions. Starring in the title role, Doug led…