On a recent trip to the mountains of North Carolina, I found myself walking around a flea market ( flea being the appropriate word). Several years ago my father gifted me a box of Playbills that were recovered from an attic of an income property. Since then I have had my eyes peeled for playbills that looked interesting. In a small stand around the back I found a nice selection, including Marlin the musical.

Created in 1980’s Magician Doug Henning, it played for 199 performances and 69 previews. Having problems from the start, the show switched directors early on and reworking of songs. 69 previews is unpredicted at that time, press was never invited and opening was postponed 3 times. The show sported an interesting cast of Henning, Chita Rivera as the evil sorceress, and fresh new face Nathan Lane and a young Christian Slater.

Not being able to see the show, it sounds like the epitome of spectacle. One effect from the show was several pieces of armor floating around joining to make a large fighting suit of armor, sound like Julie Taymor to any one.

In the end costing $4 million dollars, in order to break even it needed weekly gross of $275.000.

While this venture did not end up working to well for Mr. Henning, he and Stephen Schwartz did bring us The Magic Show. Which ran 1920 Performances in the late 70’s. Among several well know performers the show featured David Ogden Stiers of MASH fame, and keyboards by Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman Show.

The setting for the show is a seedy nightclub, the Top Hat, where an aging alcoholic magician, “Feldman the Magnificent,” chews the scenery in his overly grand performance. Manny, the Top Hat owner wants to replace him and brings in Doug. Doug is very unconventional and has an assistant named Cal. Cal is in love with Doug, but he is focused on advancing his career. 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’s act, and everyone is excited.

Meanwhile, Doug pays little attention to Cal and decides that he needs a “beautiful assistant”. Cal is hurt, as Doug conjures up the beautiful Charmin. Donna and Dina get jealous, and along with Feldman, plot to expose the secrets to Doug’s tricks during the show. Doug finally realizes he loves Cal, and gets to her before she leaves. Charmin is sent back to wherever she came from, and all ends up well.

I had an original CD for this show and found my self pulling it from this blog post. This nice short energetic show, some great songs “Lion Tamer”, “The Goldfarb Variations”. “Style” is a great show, featuring David Ogden Stiers is my stand out fav with a close second in “Sweet, Sweet, Sweet”. Overall a great and magical show.

With all this talk about magic and musicals one would be stupid to point out the rumored Danny Elfman composed Houdini the Musical. Oh yes its been tried before but not with Mr. Elfman’s soaring and haunting music. Lets hope for the best on this one, could be a big player.

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