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Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: April 17th, 2013, 10:26 am
by R.E.Byrnes
Brilliant job by Jim Steinmeyer, covering another piece of magic history that would go undocumented but for his efforts.

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: April 17th, 2013, 2:41 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
Great! :)

It's been a long wait to hear about that show. ... 32,00.html

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: April 17th, 2013, 5:02 pm
by P.T. Murphy
What a wonderful surprise! Thanks Richard for publishing it and thanks Jim for surviving to tell the tale. :)

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: April 17th, 2013, 8:19 pm
by JimAlfredson
Found time to sit down this evening and read Jim's excellent piece on Merlin, and say "Amen" to the previous replies. I suspect I've read nearly everything he's wriitten, starting with the first edition of "Jarrett," all read with pleasure and edification. As usual, this was another profitable--and cerainly enjoyable--visit. Jim is surely one of today's primary magical contributors. Thanks, Richard, for providing us with this, and, of course, to Jim as well.

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: April 21st, 2013, 4:04 pm
by Chris Aguilar
Really enjoyed the "Merlin" article.

Here is the TV spot referenced therein.

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: April 26th, 2013, 9:32 pm
by Nick Maggio
Over 30 years ago "TOPS" magazine titillated us with the wonder and amazement that would be, "Merlin." Then rumors rumbled about promises unfilled and a short run to oblivion. Not until the Henning biography some 26 years later did a trickle of the truth flow. Then Genii allows Jim Steinmeier to gush forth with the true skinny, 30 years after the fact. Superbly written and exquisitely detailed, Merlin was an engrossing read and a marvelous insight into the magic and craziness that is Broadway.


Nick Maggio

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: April 30th, 2013, 6:21 pm
by Robert K Miller
Thanks so much for running Jim Steinmeyer's outstanding 31-page "The Merlin Crusade" in the May issue. It brought back pleasant memories of seeing the show on June 2, 1983.

I had written Doug asking if he could set aside one good ticket for me. He sent the full press kit and confirmation of my great house seat. After I bought my ticket at the box office, I asked an usher if he would give Doug my note of thanks. He said, "Why don't you tell him yourself?" and he directed me outside and around to the stage door. Doug and Debby graciously visited with me in their dressing room where they were applying their makeup. They were friendly and animated.

Here's what I wrote 30 years ago about "Merlin" in my monthly Magic Makers column for I.B.M. Chicago Ring 43, the Harlan Tarbell Ring:

"Merlin" is magnificent! From its first song "It's About Magic" (reminiscent of "Magic To Do" from "Pippin") to the choreographed curtain calls, "Merlin " is top-quality theater --- imaginative and elaborate costumes, impressive sets, pleasant music, and excellent singing ,dancing and acting.

Either the critics who reviewed it in February while it was still in previews were wrong, or the show has changed radically, probably both.

"Merlin" received five Tony award nominations, including best musical. The man seated next to me when I saw the show on June 2, who is a regular Broadway theater-goer, told me at intermission that he and his wife had seen "Evita" the night before and they both felt that "Merlin" was better. (I had seen "Nine," the 1982 Tony-winner for best musical, the night before and thought it was mediocre.)

"Merlin" is a good show, even without the magic, but what magic! Henning blends illusions and special effects which are an integral part of the story (the wicked queen, deliciously played by Chita Rivera, causes a huge knight in armor, constructed on the stage piece by piece, to come to life to pursue Henning) with straight entertainment, but still appropriate to the story (Henning amusing the villagers with card manipulations).

I noted 41 items, counting transpositions as two. Here are a few of the most impressive, in order of appearance: a small red light grows to become a white bubble, a miniature man in robes is seen inside and Old Merlin emerges from the bubble to the stage. A girl covered with a cloak vanishes, and so does the cloak. A panther in a circular cage is shown, the cage revolved to show nothing concealed, the cage is covered, and the panther turns into a girl. Henning rises vertically off the stage, rotates 360 degrees, floats back under an arch, and offstage, revolving a ll the while. Henning and a horse vanish in a cargo net and reappear instantly in a box previously shown empty on the other side of the stage.

Henning also does two effects with which he has become identified: the suspension of his wife , Debby, on water spouts while he passes a flaming hoop straight over her, and the Double Sawing with the exchange of the girls' lower halves. (The cabinet was designed and decorated to look like ancient wood, as are all the props in the show.)

When I read Jarrett by Jim Steinmeyer, published by Magic, Inc., I thought some of the methods were not practicable. But, there they are, working to perfection in "Merlin," put there by Steinmeyer. The huge sets and elaborate machinery of some of the effects will preclude "Merlin" from playing Chicago. That's too bad, because every magician should have the opportunity to see this impressive show.

It gave me a good feeling to walk in Times Square on the way to the theater and to see the huge billboard promoting "Merlin" and also the "Merlin the Magical Musical" lighted signs on the taxi . Professional and part-time pro magicians owe Henning a lot for the part he has played in bringing magic to a high level of awareness and prestige.

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: June 9th, 2013, 12:33 pm
by Matthew Field
We get mail from the U.S. a bit late over here in England, and I just finished reading the Merlin article.

This may well be the best book (length article) I'll read all year. Jim Steinmeyer's writing is sensitive and honest, and it's great to have his perspective on a young man's immersion in the pressure-filled and often ego-driven world of Broadway.

Bravo to Jim, and bravo to the Chief Genii for having the confidence to devote such a large part of the May issue to this one article.


Matt Field

Re: Merlin Cover May 2013

Posted: September 22nd, 2013, 9:42 pm
by Necromancer
I gave a copy of this issue to the director of the Chicago production of Barnum that I advised, since I thought he'd enjoy Genii's coverage of his show.

But I'm not sure he ever made it past Jim's incredible Merlin memoir.

What an important piece of history—not only of magic, but of the Broadway stage! Thank you, Jim and Richard, for preserving it and bringing it to our community.