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 now word has it he’s hurtling towards New York again — this time to Broadway, assuming a theatre becomes available.
In early December, the New York Times mentioned that Ricky Jay is among a half-dozen shows circling the Great White Way in search of a springtime home. (Tallulah, the Kathleen Turner solo, is another). A number of insiders have pointed to the Booth Theatre as the likeliest venue, especially since it appears to be the only Broadway theatre with a vacancy this spring (assuming Lily Tomlin ends her extended run of The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe there in late February.)
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."
David Mamet, author of Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the Plow directed the first two versions of Ricky Jay And His 52 Assistants. Stuart Thompson would serve as general manager of the Broadway staging, should it happen.
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