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The Magic Show

imageMagic by Doug Henning, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

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The Magic Show on DVD and Video on Demand

DVD Cover: "The Magic Show".There's plenty of magic in this TV production of The Magic Show recorded on DVD and now downloadable.

Buy the DVD: The Magic Show with Doug Henning [new browser window] - ship it to yourself to enjoy at home over and over.

OR Watch it Now! Video on Demand: Downloadable version of The Magic Show  

Also available in Europe: Magic Show (REGION 1) (NTSC)

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.

Track 15 is "Doug and his Magic Illusions" - and includes his newspaper tearing, motorcycle illusion, disappearing elephant, things that go bump in the night, and Metamorphosis.

See a review of it at the end of this page.

Books Chronicles The Magic Show's Development Story

Defying Gravity

Biography of The Magic Show's composer Stephen Schwartz features behind-the-scenes stories.

Defying Gravity Stephen Schwartz biographyAuthor Carol de Giere's new Stephen Schwartz biography includes the true story behind this musical written around the talents of magician Doug Henning. Read actress Dale Soules' tale of learning classic songs "West End Avenue" and "Lion Tamer" and her experiences working with Henning. Learn about the songwriter who wrote some of Broadway's most memorable songs. The Magic Show chapter includes historic photographs of Henning and others performing magical illusions. Read more about the Stephen Schwartz biography Defying Gravity at www.defyinggravitythebook.com

Doug Henning Spellbound book includes Magic ShowSpellbound: The Wonder-filled Life of Doug Henning by John Harrison

Product Description
By 1974, magic had lost its mass appeal and there was no such thing as a celebrity magician until a skinny, bucktoothed kid from Winnipeg became an overnight star in an unlikely Broadway musical called The Magic Show. Doug Henning, with his refreshingly modern approach to the art of illusion, permanently changed the face of magic and reintroduced an entire generation of audiences to grand illusion as a theatrical art.

John Harrison traces Doug's stunning rise to fame from his humble beginnings in the Toronto coffeehouse circuit to his fantastic success as the world's first celebrity magician in fifty years. Told with exacting detail and reverence for its subject, Spellbound: The Wonder-filled Life of Doug Henning is an engaging story about the making of a master illusionist and his unrelenting search for real magic. Spellbound: The Wonder-filled Life of Doug Henning 

The Magic Show - Recordings Compact Disk icon

Music CDs

The Magic Show
[1974 Original Broadway Cast], January Records, 1998. The CD notes include complete lyrics.
The Magic Show [new browser window]
  • Includes: Up To His Old Tricks, Solid Silver Platform Shoes, Lion Tamer, Style, Two's Company, Charmin's Lament, Goldfarb Variations, West End Avenue, Sweet, Sweet, Sweet, Before Your Very Eyes, Finale


"Before Your Very Eyes"

"Lion Tamer"

  • Kristin Chenowith -
    The Stephen Schwartz Album - (Varese Sarabande, 1999)
  • Bill McKinley - Everything Possible (1992, No label listed)

"Two's Company"

"Solid Silver Platform Shoes"

"West End Avenue"

"Charmin's Lament" and "Lion Tamer"

Strouse and SchwartzStrouse, Schwartz, and Schwartz

Stephen Schwartz songs include: Magic To Do, Corner of the Sky, Lion Tamer, Blame it On A Summer Night, No Time At All, Morning Glow, Charmin's Lament, Meadowlark, and Day by Day medley. [Note Amazon.com doesn't list all songs for both CDs but there are two]

The Magic Show Sheet Music and Lyrics  The Magic Show Sheet Music

Stephen Schwartz Songbook for "Lion Tamer" and "West End Avenue"

"Lion Tamer" - by digital download | Lion Tamer lyrics

"West End Avenue" - by Digital Download

LYRICS: The Magic Show Lyrics: "Lion Tamer," "Two's Company," "Up to His Old Tricks," "West End Avnue", and "Style"

The rest of the sheet music is only available through Michael Cole. Visit stephenschwartz.com for contact info.

The Magic Show Overview

Opening in 1974 at the Cort Theatre, The Magic Show enjoyed a four and a half-year run on Broadway with 1859 (or 1920 depending on which source you read) performances. This musical featured Doug Henning's magic, Stephen Schwartz's songs, and a book by Bob Randall. Audiences loved the show and Doug was nominated for a Tony award for his performance. To read a cast list and other details visit Internet Broadway Database - the Magic Show

Here's a "Reader's Digest" type plot summary that someone wrote:

The setting for the show is a seedy nightclub, the Top Hat, where an aging alcoholic magician "Feldman the Magnificent," an overly grand performer. Manny the Top Hat owner wants to replace him. Because he is drunk all the time, the Manny brings in Doug Henning's character, also named Doug. Well, he is very unconventional as far as magicians go, as Feldman points this out in "Style."

Doug has this assistant named Cal who is quite a chatterbox. She is in love with Doug, but he is focused on advancing his career and pays little attention to her. She sings that she'd like to be a "Lion Tamer," in order to get him to notice. Donna and Dina are the rock act in the club. One of them dates the nephew of a big agent named Goldfarb. Goldfarb is coming to the club to check out Donna and Dina as a favor to the nephew. Everyone is excited, especially Feldman.

Meanwhile, Doug realizes he needs a beautiful assistant. Cal gets mad, as if to say, "what am I, chopped liver?". She tells him she's just going to go back to West End Avenue. Doug is busy conjuring up the beautiful Charmin.

Charmin says when Goldfarb gets a look at her, it's Doug's act that he will love. Donna and Dina get worried, and along with Feldman, plot to expose the secrets to Doug's tricks during the show. They fail. Doug realizes he loves Cal, and gets to her before she leaves. Charmin is sent back to wherever she came from. Feldman tries to do an act with Donna and Dina. Happy ending!

Links to Relevant Websites

appearing caneSearch for "Appearing Cane" or other illisions on Amazon.com: Appearing Cane

imageFor an interesting novel about magic, check out Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Stephen Schwartz recommends this book featuring Mr Norrell who has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England's magical past and regained some of the powers of England's magicians.

Some photos from original production compumagic.com

Performing The Magic Show songs

Contact Michael Cole at Stephen Schwartz's office for details.

DVD REVIEW by Carol de Giere

Doug Henning in The Magic Show Musical

Copyright (c) August 2001 by Carol de Giere

Before Doug Henning appeared in The Magic Show in Broadway's Cort Theatre in the early 70's, there had been no scripted shows with magic on the Great White Way for thirty five years. Magic as a major entertainment vehicle was not yet in vogue and hadn't been for decades, according to historians of magic. On May 28, 1974, a new musical, The Magic Show opened with mixed reviews by critics and wild acclaim by audiences who packed the theatre night after night. Hennings's approach was fresh and the score by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin) was about as rock as Broadway gets. The sterling cast offered a tight ensemble performance. In short, the creative team offered a magical, hip musical that captivated audiences through 1859 performances. From that success sprang others, including Hennings's December 1975 live television performance before 50 million viewers.

A cast album kept the songs alive for theatre fans, but no one could see the show unless they had caught it in those early days. Fortunately a version of the show was mounted in Toronto in 1981 for the purpose of creating a film. It was staged at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre before a live audience of several thousand people. It ended up as a one-time broadcast on Canadian television. In July 2001, Image-Entertainment (image-entertainment.com) released a DVD made from the film. Now, "right before your very eyes," as one of the songs suggests, viewers can watch Doug Henning's eyes sparkle as he tears up a newspaper, reminds us that we can't trust our senses, and then opens a perfectly in tact paper, identical to the torn one. They can watch Henning make a 7000-pound elephant vanish in seconds or conjur up a glamorous assistant on the count of three. Levitation is a natural part of his act along with his famous version of Houdini's metamorphosis trick.

Those who think they've seen it all before, probably haven't seen Henning act in a character roll (playing himself as "Doug") and join in the dances. Didi Conn, known to fans of the film Grease, plays Cal, Doug's potential romantic interest. Cal encourages Doug to find his unique performance style but feels too often ignored by the magicaholic performer who remains absorbed in his quest for success. Both Cal and Doug are upstaged during a show-stopping song and dance number "Style" but Cal claims the spotlight offering one of Schwartz's most performed pieces, "Lion Tamer," as she expresses her longing to be noticed by her beloved.

The audience may notice that Henning doesn't sing. Back when the show was created, the writers faced a serious challenge--designing a musical around a leading player who couldn't carry a tune. So they wove the plot such that the other cast members presented the musical side of the show. Twenty-five-year-old Stephen Schwartz wrote a dozen numbers, eleven of which are recorded on a cast album CD.

For the Canadian show in 1981, the screenplay adjusted for the times and circumstances of television. Schwartz rewrote several songs for a younger and more varied audience, leaving out his popular piece "West End Avenue" that was very "New York," replacing it with a more universal "Where Did the Magic Go." He swapped "Solid Silver Platform Shoes (the shoes were no longer popular in the 80's) with a more contemporary rock song "It's Gonna Take a Magician," altered the risqué lyrics of Carmin's Lament, and swapped the original song for the antagonists with another whose lyrics introduce Doug's escape trick.

What one commentator said about the original show is true about the DVD: "There's so much wonderful stuff happening. Magic can make people think and feel things that are glorious."

DVD Cover: "The Magic Show".Enjoy a version of The Magic Show on DVD or video. From the Canadian film (somewhat altered from the Broadway production).

Buy The Magic Show with Doug Henning [new browser window]

Also available in Europe: Magic Show (REGION 1) (NTSC)

copyright August 2001 by Carol de Giere