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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Theatre Thursday: Escapism

As it is Harry Houdini's birthday today, I am highlighting one of Houdini's biggest fans: magician Doug Henning. Henning has been on Broadway three times with his magic performances, the first time with a little music-and-magic extravaganza called The Magic Show which ran from 1974-1978. In 1981, a filmed version of the show was created which featured one of my favorite illusions of all time: Metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis was created by a magician named John Nevil Maskelyne. (This guy also invented the pay toilet. Enterprising bloke.) However, the illusion is most closely associated with the man who is featured prominently on today's Google doodle: Harry Houdini.
There are many variations on the illusion, and one of the more impressive is by The Pendragons. However, Henning's version (with Didi Conn) is one of my favorites:

The Magic Show featured music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, most notably "Lion Tamer"

and "West End Avenue."

Henning's next show, Merlin, did not enjoy the long-running success of The Magic Show, but it did run for 199 performances (and 69 previews) and it was nominated for 5 Tony awards including Best Musical.

Henning would return to Broadway once more for a special limited performance run called Doug Henning & His World of Magic. I don't know if video of that show exists, but I didn't find any. Instead, I will leave you with this video of Doug on The Muppet Show.

Have a great Thursday everyone, and get out this weekend to see some live theatre near you!

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