Thursday, January 9, 2014

The music of Man of Magic

Upset that we won't be getting the Houdini Broadway musical this year? Never fear! I've got your Houdini musical right here!

Man of Magic was produced by Harold Fielding and opened at London's Piccadilly Theater on November 16, 1966. The production starred Stuart Damon as Houdini, Judith Bruce as Bess, and Stubby Kaye as Houdini's (fictional) manager, Toby Kester. The book and lyrics were by John Morley and Aubrey Cash, with music by Wilfred Wylam. The show closed after only 126 performances. Most critics felt that the production values were strong, but the music was weak.

Now I can bring you a selection of music from this long forgotten musical and you can judge for yourself. Below is the opening musical number, Man of Magic.



Tomorrow our Houdini musical adventure continues with a little song and dance from those gregarious gals from Coney Island -- The Floral Sisters!

Thanks to Ron South for digitalizing my Man of Magic LP. Check out Ron's blog devoted to the rock band Journey, Wheel In The Sky.

4 comments:

  1. Supposedly MAN OF MAGIC was the first four-dimensional musical in the history of the British Theatre. To the usual ingredients - story, music and dancing, MAGIC was added as the fourth dimension. Can’t wait for the song and dance on Friday.

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    1. It also featured puppetry, so make that five dimensions!

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  2. The Man Of Magic LP is a terrific collection of songs from the show and you should try to get hold of a copy which is now quite a rarity. I first heard the album (owned by a friend) in the sixties. In the seventies, whilst working as head stage electrician at the Blackpool Opera House, I heard first hand accounts (from production staff who had worked on the fit up of the show)of some major problems encountered with some of the illusions. The huge Buzz Saw illusion (bought from Abbotts) was simply a death trap. The protective bar (holding the wood whilst being cut but also acted as a protector between the girl and the blade) was very flimsy and kept being torn out. Judith Bruce ended up refusing to be part of it and despite Harold Fielding himself trying it out (I have a press cutting photo of him doing this)she was adamant and the illusion was taken out of the show. Whilst I was at the Opera House, every Sunday there was a Harold Fielding concert put on and I did have a chance to talk to him on the odd occasion he came down from London. He kindly gave me a file copy of the LP and eventually seccumbed to my offers to buy the Buzz Saw illusion which was still kept in his vast warehouse. He only agreed to sell me the illusion as he wanted to clear the warehouse of things no longer of any use to him AND that I signed a disclaimer against accidents when using the illusion (which he advised me against). When I eventually got and opened the seven large crates, I was shocked at the quality, especially the protector bar which was just bent thick tin and the catches holding it in position were VERY poor. With help I had the whole table transport arrangement and protector bar rebuilt properly. All in all, Abbotts had supplied a poor mans copy of the Blackstone original and it's a good thing that it had been taken out of the show otherwise it might have ended up with a much different history in magic.

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    1. Thanks so much for the awesome info and memories, Karl. It is indeed a terrific album. Love the story of the buzz saw! So do you still own it? Would love to share your story here with a pic or two.

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