The long-running 1974 Broadway musical, The Magic Show, finally gets a CD release Oct. 20, introducing Stephen Schwartz's lesser-known score to a new generation.
The liner notes of the January Records release include complete disc lyrics and a remembrance from Schwartz (Pippin, Children of Eden, Disney's "Pocahontas" and "Hunchback of Notre Dame").
The one semi-standard to emerge from The Magic Show is "Lion Tamer," a favorite among cabaret singers. The musical ran four years (1,859 performances) after opening at the Cort Theatre.
Devised by composer-lyricist Schwartz, director/choreographer Grover Dale and book writer Bob Randall, the loose story concerns the world of a (mostly non-singing) magician, played by then-hot illusionist Doug Henning. The plot, Schwartz writes in the liner notes, was moved along by Henning's magic tricks, covering for his lack of singing.
"Thus," writes Schwartz, "when Doug's character in the show became irritated with his assistant, he made her disappear; when he wanted a beautiful new assistant, he conjured one up out of thin air; when he wanted to make amends to his old assistant, he turned the new one into a tiger..." Notable in the company were director Dale's wife, Anita Morris (Nine), David Ogden Stiers (TV's "M*A*S*H" and Disney's animated "Beauty and the Beast" and "Pocahontas") and Robert LuPone (A Chorus Line). David Letterman's bandleader, Paul Shaffer, played keyboards for the original cast, and plays on the album.
Songs on the disc include: "Up to His Old Tricks" (Company), "Solid Silver Platform Shoes" (Cheryl Barnes, Annie McGreevey), "Lion Tamer" (Dale Soules), "Style" (Stiers and Company), "Two's Company" (Barnes, McGreevey), "Charmin's Lament" (Morris), "The Goldfarb Variations" (Company), "West End Avenue" (Soules), "Sweet, Sweet, Sweet" (Morris, LuPone, Loyd Sannes, Ronald Stafford, Henning), "Before Your Very Eyes" (Barnes, McGreevey) and "Finale" (Company).
Henning earned a (Featured Actor, Musical) Tony Award nomination for The Magic Show, and retuned to Broadway in 1983 with the musical, Merlin and, later, Doug Henning's World of Magic. January Records is a newly-formed label founded by Andy Charles and Howard Harrow to issue or reissue classic and new Broadway and Off Broadway original cast recordings, cabaret recordings, solo performances and independent film scores.
The Magic Show is available in stores now.
-- By Kenneth Jones