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Backers Audition of “The Magician” in Lower Manhattan

Theater II at Borough of Manhattan Community College on Chambers St. in lower Manhattan was the site of several showings of a work in progress, elements from a potentially Broadway bound production with a magic theme, a magic story, and lots of magic entitled, “The Magician, Love Conjures All.” Those who attended the five performances presented May 21st through May 23rd witnessed a variety of illusions and smaller magic presented as excerpts from the play. Effects included Things that Go Bump in the Night, The Blackstone Buzz Saw, production of livestock from baby ducklings to bunnies to full grown tigers, and a very funny Costume Trunk featuring Richard Ziman, outstanding in the role of The Stage Manager.

The producers of “The Magician” are Teri Solomon Mitze, Kardanna-Swinsky Productions, Dodger Theatricals, James M. Nederlander, James L. Nederlander, Marc Goldman, and Gay Blackstone. Gay Blackstone and Charles Reynolds receive credit for the magic with John Gaughan receiving credit for Grand Illusion Design. The script is by Ivan Menchell with music by Grant Sturiale. At the showing attended by MagicTimes the music was presented by a live ensemble consisting of Mr. Sturiale at the piano, Shawn Gough on Electric Keyboard and Ed Shea providing percussion. Although the show has several dance numbers choreographed by Broadway veteran Pat Birch, “The Magician” is not a musical.

The story of “The Magician” features familiar elements of romantic fantasy and backstage nostalgia, the search for love and the child within. Although this presentation was only 50 minutes in length and offered excerpts, condensed elements and slides in place of full scenes and scenery, this capsule rendition introduced several key themes of the story as well as the key characters who inhabit “The Magician.” The audience received large helpings of magic throughout.

The riddle of the Sphinx is called to mind as “The Magician” presents us with the protagonist in three phases of life; an old man. a young man, and as a young boy. The magician, as old man and young man is played by Bob Walton and the boy played with great enthusiasm by Zack Ross. The boy and the young man share the stage frequently as alter egos once the elder magician has fallen into the magic wonderland that exists inside an old run down vaudeville theater. A romance of two souls entwined across time and imagination is spun between Walton as the magician, and his at first reluctant assistant, played by Valerie Wright.

“This show was about three years in the works,” remarked Charles Reynolds in a conversation with MagicTimes. Reynolds, the foremost Broadway magic consultant, has worked behind the scenes of many television and live productions. “We selected magic effects to work with the script. Some of the effects, like the Buzz saw, are from the Blackstone show.  Gay’s involvement with the production makes them a natural. ‘Things that Go Bump in the Night’ I created for Doug Henning’s ‘The Magic Show.’ The Double Boxes we used in a different way to utilize other characters in the magic routines.”

During the fifty minute “special introduction” to the show, an outline of an Apache Dance with cigarette manipulations was presented. A magical playlet within the show, to be staged in a 1930’s gas station set was described. A segment featuring the Tire Illusion as featured by Blackstone Sr. was expounded upon. These skeleton demonstrations were in addition to a good deal of magic actually presented during the course of this backers audition program. The production of a large live tiger concluded this “taste” of “The Magician.”

Wizards especially like to peek backstage. This chance to take a look behind the curtain at a theatrical undertaking “in the works” was a treat for those magic minded folks who were fortunate enough to attend these special performances of “The Magician.”

—Richard Steven Cohn

Richard Steven Cohn has written for Genii, Magicol, M.U.M., The Yankee Collector, MAGIC, as well as magic themed articles for Brooklyn Bridge Magazine and Stagebill. He is a magical consultant for television and theater and performs both as a single and with his wife Alexandra.

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