It was the show that spawned Magic On Broadway and Mind Games ? and no doubt inspired hundreds of people across America to hurl playing cards at watermelons. The show was Ricky Jay And His 52 Assistants, a sold-out hit at NYC's Second Stage Theatre in 1994. Ricky Jay brought his show back to the Second Stage in 1997, and in late 2000, word came that he'd be hurtling towards New York again ? this time to Broadway, assuming a theatre became available.
That has yet to happen, but October will see a new Jay performance, a duet with the man who directed his first outing, David Mamet. Two Hussies will do a one-night-stand Oct. 4 at Town Hall. In the show, the two men will discuss the state of the performing arts and read from (and, according to their New York Times ad, "flog") their latest books, "Jay's Journal of Anomalies" and "Wilson." The evening is being presented by SFX Entertainment/Delsener Slater Enterprises.
Coming in March to Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre will be an entirely different Jay show, this one directed by, but not co-starring, Mamet.
In early December, the New York Times mentioned Ricky Jay among a half-dozen shows circling the Great White Way in search of a springtime home. At the time, insiders pointed to the Booth Theatre as the likeliest venue, since The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe had just closed. Recent times (pre-terrorist attack) led to rumors that the Off-Broadway hit Topdog/Underdog might come to the Booth for a limited run this fall. If not, the venue remains available.
Ricky Jay's show, which has also been captured in a cable television special, includes sleight-of-hand and mentalist feats, as well as his legendary ability to fling a playing card across the room and make it slice into the rind of a watermelon. Jay's books on the subject of unusual magic include "Cards As Weapons" and "Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women." Mamet, author of Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the Plow directed the first two versions of Ricky Jay And His 52 Assistants.
Just prior to the 1997 return of RJ-52 at Second Stage, Jay told the New York Times that the initial New York run "was the most exciting thing I'd ever done. I don't know if you can recreate experiences that were so terrific in your life, but I'm going to give it a try."
? By David Lefkowitz