Though it opened with little hype at Off-Broadway's Lamb's Theatre -- Poof! -- Joseph Gabriel's Magic On Broadway didn't disappear. In fact, the show will reach its 300th performance May 18. (Or, if Gabriel must cancel that evening to perform at the Drama Desk Awards, number 300 will come at the Wednesday matinee, May 21.) The show opened Sept. 29, 1996.
Gabriel currently performs nine shows a week, though that may go back to the more customary eight shortly. (A Saturday morning promotion, with tickets selling at only $9, did not do as well as expected and has been stopped. A similar promotion at a different hour may happen this summer.)
In other Magic On Broadway news, on Tuesday, June 10, Gabriel will do a special benefit performance of the show for the Association To Benefit Children, which serves homeless, handicapped and AIDS-stricken kids. Tickets will be $75 ($60 for children). For further information call Judy at (212) 845-3823.
Produced by Catco Inc., a "vertically-integrated toy and entertainment company," Magic features "free-flying exotic birds, including parrots, macaws, doves and cockatoos" and incorporates humor, music and audience participation. Juggler and crowd-pleaser Romano Frediani is still in the show, which now has more audience participation specifically geared for children.
Gabriel has been a featured act in the "Lido de Paris" at the Stardust in Vegas for two years and has starred for ten years in the Flamingo Hilton's City Lites. In 1983, Gabriel made his mark with a show at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, which led to his booking on Carson. He played a command performance for President Reagan at the White House in 1989. Gabriel was also chosen as magic consultant to work closely with Michael Crawford and Scott Faris (director) to oversee the illusion effects of MGM Hotel's $40 million EFX show. Asked how the idea came about to bring such a Vegas-style show to Off Broadway, Gabriel told Playbill On-Line, "We knew we'd be different from everything else in the industry. One partner of mine has an office in New York, and two years ago he said, `wouldn't it be great to have a large-scale magic show in New York? That would be very novel for the Big Apple.' What's nice is the Lamb's Theatre is very intimate, and people can feel like I'm doing the show in their living room."
Audience contact is important for Gabriel, who says, "In Las Vegas, you do your show, and it's marketed and pre-sold so heavily, you have groups from Taiwain and Japan booking six months in advance to come to a hotel, and their arms are twisted to go see whatever's playing in the club. But here, people actually choose what they want to see."
Gabriel also appreciates the range of audience members he can get in New York. Lots of kids are seeing the show, and I have a trick specifically to bring a five or six-year-old up onstage. Adults enjoy that, too, because it's a kid doing it. With Disney and Times Square becoming more family oriented, I think the show fits right in."
And don't look for Magic to "disappear" anytime soon; originally targeted for a six-month run, the show's stay is now open-ended. "We're gonna stay for as long as people come see us," said Gabriel. "People come and suspend their disbelief. And it doesn't matter how much sophistication of wonderment is in a particular trick; the point is the audience is fooled and taken away from their day-to-day reality, away from the norm." Gabriel added that the legit theatre gig is something of a wish come true for him: "I remember growing up in Jersey and watching [critics] Stewart Klein and Joel Siegel and Clive Barnes talking about shows, and then going to the theatre and seeing other people's faces on the cover of Playbill. Now those critics are saying lovely things about me, people are coming to my show and seeing my face on a Playbill!"
Interested? Call (212) 997-1780 for tickets and information. Oh, and don't forget to check out the Magic On Broadway website, featuring photos from the show, information on the production, and instructions on how to set up and present "The Thinkin' Drink Trick." Here's the site: