Really Magic and Fun
Jim Jr | Buffalo, NY United States | 07/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film version of a long running Broadway show is fun from start to finish. The illusions are all great. The levitation on the water jets is truly baffling. Even for a person having a knowledge of magic, these illusions are wonderful. The whole cast seems to be having a great time doing the show and it comes across. Doug Henning is a delight as he was in his TV specials, but is given more of a chance to let an audience get to know him in the sort of silly story that surrounds the illusions. Anita Morris doesn't have a lot to do, but is a very sexy "glamorous assistant". Seeing Mr. Henning and Miss Morris makes a viewer slightly sad since they are no longer with us.Didi Conn is a comic delight as Doug's unappreciated assistant. She has two delightful songs - "Lion Tamer" and "Where Did The Magic Go".Comparing the musical numbers in this film to those on the original Broadway cast recording, some numbers have been replaced by new ones for this film. While none are "showstoppers" or that you will be humming when the show is over, they do contribute nicely to the over all fun of the piece.There are no "extras" on the DVD and the sound is a bit fuzzy in a few places during the musical numbers, but the whole show is so much fun that these faults can be overlooked.Once a Broadway show has closed, usually they live on only in sound recordings and the memories of those who saw them, so it is great to have a film of this Broadway hit and a lasting memory of Mr. Henning and Miss Morris."
The Magic Show
G R Skiffington | Sassafras, Victoria Australia | 05/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am presuming here that this DVD will be a copy of the film that was shot in Canada and never released. The film is great, shot over a couple of weeks of performances with some new routines that never appeared in the original stage show. The film was directed by Sammy Bayes who also directed the stage show in Australia. Anita Morris is delicious and Australia's Jon Finlayson re-creates the role he made famous here in OZ. Larry Anderson played the role of the magician. Doug Henning is well... Doug Henning... and who could complain about that. One of the great TV magicians who also did something valuable for the theatre. He should be remembered for not only this stage show but for draging magic into the 20th century. Others have capitalised on the TV genre but Doug was amongst the first with the prime time TV specials, lets not forget that. There are new songs and the show is a delight from start to finish especially if you are a magic afficinado or, like me, have been in the production. I worked with Jon, Sammy & Larry in the Australian production in 1975. Thanks goodness we can finally get to see this gem......"
The Magic Lives Again
Mike Senser | Orlando, Fl United States | 07/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You would not believe my surprise as I was sitting at my computer pouring over this very site and seeing that The Magic Show was being released on DVD.I had seen the Broadway production over 50 times during it's almost 5 year run. Many a day (and evening) I sat in the Cort theater fascinated by Henning's magic and Schwartz's music. Now could this production, filmed live in 1981, capture all the magic of the Broadway production. In a word.....YES!!! Although some of the Music is different and only two original cast members remain(Henning amd Anita Morris as Charmin)This production is alive with the same good feeling as the original.Didi Conn brings to the role of Cal, Hennings assistant and wannabe girlfriend, the same spunkyness Dale Soules had on Broadway. Some of the original music is gone (West End Avenue is replaced by Where Has the magic Gone? and Solid Silver Platform shoes gives way to We're Gonna Need a Magician)but the new songs carry all the zestyness Schwartz is famous for. If you saw the play in New York, this DVD is a must. If you loved Henning's magic or Schwartz's music, order it now for this DVD is (as Charmin says)" a Dream come true"!!"
Tears of Joy
Sydneybird1 | Portland, OR | 09/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, if I had listened to the negative reviews I would have missed a wonderful ride of personal emotions of great joy to deep sadness. I didn't see the Broadway show, but I did see a touring show in the late 1970's, when I was 17. And of course I watched all of the prime time specials. Why are they not out on DVD by now? For some reason, despite or because of, I'm not sure, the chipmunk looks and tacky 1970's costumes (what were we thinking), I was enthralled by the illusions and Doug's contagious enthusiasm for the Wonder of the universe. I actually followed him into his transcendental meditation phase, but that is another story. I guess TM is no match for liver cancer.
When I first saw Doug on the DVD I found myself with a smile as big as Doug's and tears of joy in my eyes. It was like seeing a lost friend. A feeling of great joy came across me. At the very end of the DVD the performers are shown behind the curtain giving hugs and kisses, then the picture freezes on Doug with that great smile, tears came to my eyes as I held back an emotional upwelling that would have left me sobbing uncontrollably (I'm a guy so we should not do such things), as I know that Doug had died and we are left with a great loss. Well, that is just me, and a few million of his fans.
The first time I saw, actually heard, the DVD, was in my car on a long trip by myself. My minivan has a DVD player but only the back seat passengers can see the screen. So I only received the audio and I had enjoyed it so much that I replayed it three times, then spent some time skipping to the best songs over and over. I liked it even better the third time around. The story and dialog are way too simplistic, but I really enjoyed the songs, though I had missed West End Avenue, my favorite song on the Cast Recording, which I have on vinyl and I haven't listened to for about 15 years (time to get the CD). But I really like the new songs, and sorry, I never really liked Solid Silver Platform Shoes anyway.
The DVD show has a sort of prequel, showing the cast out of character doing a song and dance and Doug doing some illusions, fading into the main show which takes place in a night club. The prequel choreography made me laugh hysterically; very corny, reminiscent of those horrible TV episodes of The Brady Bunch when they would sing and dance, very embarrassing if not for them, then for me. Was this choreography on purpose for it's comedic value or were they seriously thinking this was how to dance? I think they were serious, making me cringe even more. Better to close your eyes as the music is very listenable.
The main show is entertaining even if it does have a very weak storyline and the dialog is very simplistic. But, of course, the star of the show is Doug and the illusions are great. DVD's allow for slow motion and replays and, though, recently I could use TiVo to discover how some illusions were done on America's Got Talent, I could not do the same for Doug's. Doug's torn newspaper trick is genius. And where did he hide that lion, and visa versa, Anita, in the cage, and it wasn't such a friendly lion at that.
I think any fan of Doug's will enjoy seeing this production. The negative reviews were not about Doug. Watch it for the illusions, and for the memories of Doug, and keep a sense of humor about the production. If you like the music, then that is a bonus. This is not a mega-production of the 1980's (a la Phantom), but it was nominated for best musical direction, so it must have set some standard for production at the time.