The Magic Show with Doug Henning
Doug Henning (Actor), Didi Conn (Actor), Norman Campbell (Director)
Broadway Musicals DVD
BM01 Broadway Musicals DVD - Doug Henning (Actor), Didi Conn (Actor), Norman Campbell (Director) - The Magic Show with Doug Henning - Broadway Musicals DVD - The late Doug Henning was a cheerful pop-culture icon of the 1970s. His chipmunk grin and dangling hair become as ubiquitous as the Farrah Fawcett bathing-suit poster. The Canadian magician's fame was sealed with The Magic Show, a Broadway musical that ran for more than four years. This 1981 filmed version of a live Toronto stage production is not exactly the original show. Some of Henning's magic routines were different, and songwriter Stephen Schwartz replaced a couple of songs with new numbers (which Schwartz has claimed he prefers to the originals, though die-hard fans of the original Broadway cast recording may demur). Schwartz, whose work has included excursions into both New and Old Testaments (Godspell and the animated film The Prince of Egypt, respectively), is in a bouncy Godspell mode here, with the clever songs boosting the tired dialogue. The show is essentially an old-fashioned, mild send-up comedy-melodrama serving as an excuse for Henning's magic acts. The supporting players handle most of the heavy lifting of song and dance, including red-headed vixen (and future star) Anita Morris, who gets sawed in half and turned into a lion. Henning lends his likable personality and saves his energy for the big-time tricks. As is almost always true of magic, the filmed version lacks the you-are-there charge of a live show, but at least this production captures Henning's style and spirit: his high-pitched Whoo. and hippy-dippy rainbow outfits are ingratiating in a smiley-face way. This 1981 filmed version of the highly successful Broadway play The Magic Show brings magical illusions as well as engaging music to the story of a talented young magician Doug (Doug Henning) using his magic for good over the villainous evil magic performed by the dastardly Van Zyskind. The music and magic presented here highlight a dazzling display of wizardry by Doug Henning, who triumphs in the end to the delight of all. This is the only version of one of Broadway's most beloved and longest-running musicals and captures the legendary talents of Doug Henning, Anita Morris, and Didi Conn at their best. 105 minutes. This film version of a long running Broadway show is fun from start to finish. The illusions are all great. The levitation on the water jets is truly baffling. Even for a person having a knowledge of magic, these illusions are wonderful. The whole cast seems to be having a great time doing the show and it comes across. Doug Henning is a delight as he was in his TV specials, but is given more of a chance to let an audience get to know him in the sort of silly story that surrounds the illusions. Anita Morris doesn't have a lot to do, but is a very sexy glamorous assistant. Seeing Mr. Henning and Miss Morris makes a viewer slightly sad since they are no longer with us. Didi Conn is a comic delight as Doug's unappreciated assistant. She has two delightful songs - Lion Tamer and Where Did The Magic Go. I had seen the Broadway production over 50 times during it's almost 5 year run. Many a day (and evening) I sat in the Cort theater fascinated by Henning's magic and Schwartz's music. Now could this production, filmed live in 1981, capture all the magic of the Broadway production. In a word.....YES... Although some of the Music is different and only two original cast members remain(Henning amd Anita Morris as Charmin)This production is alive with the same good feeling as the original.Didi Conn brings to the role of Cal, Hennings assistant and wannabe girlfriend, the same spunkyness Dale Soules had on Broadway. Some of the original music is gone (West End Avenue is replaced by Where Has the magic Gone? and Solid Silver Platform shoes gives way to We're Gonna Need a Magician)but the new songs carry all the zestyness Schwartz is famous for. If you saw the play in New York, this DVD is a must. If you loved Henning's magic or Schwartz's music, order it now for this DVD is (as Charmin says) a Dream come true.
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