1983 Merlin Fan Letter

The above fan letter was sent to me recently by Steve Schlanger who had no idea of its origins. But, as you can clearly see, Harriet Weston of 19 Willits Road throughly enjoyed her time at Merlin. So much so, that she put pen to paper to tell Doug about it.  This letter is a…

John Gaughan “Merlin” Instagram Photos

Hey everyone! If you weren’t aware already, I wanted to direct you to illusion designer extraordinaire John Gaughan’s extensive Instagram account.  While the account by itself is a sight to behold, recently they have been posting unseen photos of “Merlin” on stage and behind the scenes. I’d love to post them all here on the…

“Merlin” Times Square Billboard

“Join the Crowds who are Cheering!” So started this billboard that hung above Times Square in the early 80s. If it wasn’t evident already, “Merlin” was heavily promoted during its relatively short run on Broadway. There was a lot on the line and at stake for Doug’s second appearance on Broadway, and the producers weren’t…

No Feet Illusion from “Magic on Broadway!

The above illusion was from one of Doug’s last specials “Magic on Broadway in 1982. This was kind of a greatest hits show, and eagle-eyed fans will also remember it from “Merlin.” In fact, the “Merlin” version was preserved for posterity when the cast performed an excerpt from the show on the Tony’s featured below. 

Christian Slater on Merlin

In the almost four years I’ve been doing this website I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that Christian Slater was in “Merlin” as a child actor. Yup, that Christian Slater played the young “Merlin” in this infamous and fabled production. As he’s had a rich and varied career since, I’ve always wondered what he had to say…

“Fergus’ Dilemma” from Merlin

The above song, of course, comes from “Merlin” and features one of Nathan Lane’s musical numbers from the show. While the sound quality is lacking, it does give you a “representation” of what the music was like.  Over the years, Nathan Lane hasn’t talked about “Merlin” all that much. When he has, it always hasn’t…

“Merlin” Jeopardy Question

In a blink and you’ll miss it moment on “Jeopardy, ” Doug appeared as a question in an episode that aired just last week. The category, appropriately titled “Guys Named Doug,” was connected to “Merlin” and went for $600. How it turned out for the contestant, well, I’m not surprised. It is a lost musical…

Merlin-Original Marc Hellinger Theater Photos

Due to a pinched nerve in my shoulder, I’m not able to write extensively until it heals. However, I wanted to give a special thanks to writer Michelle Ainsworth for sharing these original photos taken by her father during the original run of “Merlin.”        

Norm Nielsen

I’m sure you’ve all heard, but, famed respected magician and poster collector Norm Nielsen passed away yesterday. His act, along with his massive collection of magic posters, was legendary.  It should be no surprise that among his vast collection were some original Doug gems from “Merlin” and the “Magic Show.” As you can see from…

Genii: “Merlin Crusade” Article by Jim Steinmeyer-Part Three

All photos shown in this article are from the original Genii Magazine article, and are the property of Jim Steinmeyer and their respective copyright holders.  Having fun yet? I certainly hope so! Be sure to come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to Jim Steinmeyer’s “Merlin Crusade!” Special Thanks to Jim Steinmeyer

Genii: “Merlin Crusade” Article by Jim Steinmeyer-Part Two

All photos shown in this article are from the original Genii Magazine article, and are the property of Jim Steinmeyer and their respective copyright holders  That’s right, you guessed it! We’ve come to the end of another one. Be sure to come back this week for the exciting parts 3 and 4 to Jim Steinmeyer’s…

Genii: “Merlin Crusade” Article by Jim Steinmeyer-Part One

As we all have a little more downtime these days, I decided it was high time to tackle this superb article from 2013. Written by Jim Steinmeyer, it details the triumph and tragedy that was “Merlin.” Many people know Jim Steinmeyer from his work as an acclaimed author and illusion designer, however this first-person article…

Doug and Chita Rivera-Merlin Stage Door Photo

As everyone knows right now, things have been a little crazy around the world. In times such as these, it’s important to tend to our own loved ones and personal health. However, when possible I feel it’s important to post when I can. Hopefully, Doug’s perpetual positivity can shine a little love and light onto…

From the Playbill Archives: (New) Merlin Interview

Well, it’s not often that you get some new Doug Henning news in your Google feed. However, that’s exactly what happened today when Playbill.com dug into their archives for this vintage article from the opening of “Merlin.” As you would imagine, Doug talks enthusiastically about the show and its illusions. What else would you expect?…

Henning “Animaniacs” Appearance

Welcome back from Thanksgiving folks! Did you know that Doug Henning appeared on Steven Spielberg’s beloved 90s cartoon series “Animaniacs?’ Or more to the point, a suspiciously Doug like character named “Merlin!” To be truthful, I haven’t seen this episode before. But, if I were a betting man, I’d say someone on that writing staff…

Unseen Merlin Production Publicity Photos

These pictures were given to me by writer Michelle Ainsworth and really showcase the scope and scale of “Merlin” very nicely. The top color photo was taken by photographer Peter Cunningham and is a real stunner if you ask me. While there is no documentation as to who took the second photo, I suspect it…

Merv Griffin Show- Chita Rivera Performing “Merlin”

Finding existing performance clips of “Merlin” is a lot like finding Sasquatch or seeing a UFO. They tend to be very fleeting, and you have to look hard.  Well, as luck would have it I recently came across this excerpt from the “Merv Griffin Show” where Chita Rivera performs “I Can Make it Happen.” As…

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…

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…