NYPL Photo Archive: The Magic Show Part Three

All Photos by Ken Duncan These photos are copyrighted by the New York Public Library’s Billy Rose Theater Division. Any unauthorized usage of those for profit or personal promotion is in violation of copyright laws.

NYPL Photo Archive: The Magic Show Part Two

Let’s do it again shall we folks? I have to say I’m really loving this collection of photos. What strikes me the most about them is that their electricity and energy truly make you feel as if you’re in the Cort Theater’s front row circa 1974. As these pictures prove, the production itself was sparse and…

Doug Henning’s World of Instagram: Unseen Chita Rivera Photo

The above photo comes from the National Portrait Gallery’s Instagram account (@smitsoniannpg). It goes without saying that this photo features Chita Rivera in her role as the evil Queen in “Merlin.” Taken in a dressing room, this picture really showcases the beautiful and detailed costuming that was prevalent in the production as a whole. Even in…

Doug’s Henning’s World of Instagram: Merlin Marquee

The world wide web isn’t the only place to uncover rare Doug treasures. Instagram also has some nuggets waiting quietly to be discovered. The above picture comes from @bygonebroadway, and show’s the original “Merlin” marquee in all its glory. I personally had never seen this photo before, and was struck by how thirty-seven years its…

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…

Admired from Afar-The Magic Show

It’s Monday folks. So, what better way to start the week than something else with the letter “M” in it…Anita Morris! This number features Morris recreating her role of Charmin from the Broadway “Magic Show” production. As the wife of its original director Grover Dale, she truly was a powerhouse performer who always lent the…

“Right Before Your Very Eyes!” from “The Magic Show”

Let’s rub those Monday doldrums from your very eyes with this lively and well known number from “The Magic Show.” Aside from the original show’s cast album, this filmed for television version is really the only way this rollicking number can be experienced today. While it may not be a perfect representation of what audiences…

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…

Grover Dale: Final Thoughts on Doug

Special thanks to Grover Dale for adding this exclusive comment to “The Doug Henning Project” to cap off a great week of memories.  ‘Surrounded by Broadway pros, Doug Henning not only grew as an illusionist. He grew as an actor, performer, and human being.  He caught the ball and ran with it. Witnessing his exceptional growth…

Grover Dale Remembers “The Magic Show:” Broadway Success!

                                        Back to the Magic In Edgar’s office, the team evaluates David Byrd’s poster.  It’s stunning.  ‘All that’s needed to complete it,’ David confides, ‘is a title.  What do we call it?’  After three predictable ideas, I share a thought.  ‘Why don’t we just call it what it is, ’The Magic Show.’  Following a round of…

Grover Dale Remembers “The Magic Show:” Part One

All this week, “The Doug Henning Project” is fortunate to be printing excerpts from “Magic Show” director Grover Dale’s upcoming autobiography. Mr. Dale has been gracious enough to allow the chapter devoted to “The Magic Show” to be previewed here, and what a chapter it is! As you will see all this week, “The Magic…

Magic Show Monday: Before Your Very Eyes!

Lets’s get this week started on a high note with a musical selection from “The Magic Show” soundtrack. “Before Your Very Eyes” is one of the showstoppers of the musical, and still holds up extremely well today! While it’s difficult to find a proper video recording of “The Magic Show” as originally presented (I’m not…

New Playbill “Magic Show” Article

For those seeking new Doug content look no further than “Playbill’s” mini retrospective on the “Magic Show” that was posted this past Friday.  It’s a quick rundown of the show’s history, musical highlights, and how it’s sadly one of the more unknown Stephen Schwartz scores.   There’s even a great clip of Carol Burnett and Cher…

Saturday at Sardis!

Today’s entry features photos from when (I’m guessing) Doug’s caricature was created for the esteemed New York City restaurant “Sardis.” For many, you really haven’t hit it big until you are hanging on the wall of this venerable institution. I’m also guessing this was probably from the time of “Merlin” as well.  It’s interesting to…

Rubik’s Cube Illusion and More

The above comes from Doug’s “Magic on Broadway” special, and highlights one of the things he always did best, close-up magic with kids! For me, these are always some of the highlight of his specials, and I hope they’re yours too.  Now where did I put my old Rubik’s Cube?

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…

“Magic on Broadway” Disembodied Head Illusion

Featured above is one of the more amusing moments from Doug’s “Magic on Broadway” special. The banter between Doug and Debby is heavily scripted, but pops with their usual chemistry! Needless to say, I’m skeptical that that was Doug’s real head featured throughout the whole illusion. But, who am I to say? Enjoy!

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

Brian Lumley: Final Musings on The Magic Show

Metamorphosis by Brian Lumley Part Five These are the kind of things that would serendipitously happen.  They are part of the magic that made The Magic Show and kept it going. Needless to say, Doug never trusted the bag set again.  He and his assistant double checked it every time. What those particular stagehands thought…

Brian Lumley: Metamorphosis Comeuppance

Metamorphosis by Brian Lumley Part Four Fingers were pointed at everybody like a Three Stooges routine. But it came down to who touched it last.  I was blamed by the stagehands.  But it was pointed out by the stage managers that the stagehands had demanded they take over that props pre-set.  This had been done…

Brian Lumley: Metamorphosis Mixup

Metamorphosis by Brian Lumley Part Three Doug lifted the banner to his waist on one. Then raised it over his head.  He then lowered it to his waist again and looked down at the trunk.  He was supposed to say two when he raised it over his head, but instead he was talking to Dale…