I started this blog with one daughter, kept it up with the other, to spend time together doing something we enjoyed.
However, things change and people evolve. My daughters are older, busier, and not as interested in writing.
From now on this blog will be mostly mom with occasional contributions from my daughters and maybe even my husband.
Nothing else will change. We'll still focus on sharing fun places to go, fun things to do, and more, and we would  still love to hear your views too

Monday, January 25, 2021

Let's Talk About Magic

 Me - I am really interested in magic, but I am not good at it. I had a magic set, but my assistant was not very good. My sister insisted on being my assistant but she never wanted to help me. Now, I don't even have any magic equipment anymore because we moved several times, and all of it kind of just broke or got lost in the many moves. So, I had to get rid of it. 

I like to watch other people do magic. It's so cool!  I have no idea how they do the things that they do. It's unbelievable!  My favorite kind of tricks are the ones that are completely original. The ones that you have never seen anything like before. When you keep seeing the same kinds of tricks over and over, it gets kind of boring. You still don't know how the tricks are done, but it's just not as exciting because you feel like you've seen it before. However, when a magician takes a trick you have seen before and puts a new spin on it that is exciting. It feels like something new and different even if it's not completely new and different. I also prefer when magicians talk to the audience while they are performing their tricks rather than when they perform silently. If they don't talk,  I have trouble paying attention and lose focus. 

I have seen a lot of live magic shows,  but I don't really remember most of them. The magicians were all  really good and all of them did a lot of amazing tricks although some of them were more amazing than others. It's hard to think of all the magicians I have seen and the tricks they did because there have been so many. I have been going to magic shows for a long time.  The only ones  I can think of off the top of my head are The Illusionists. We saw them twice - once on Broadway and another time at State Theater New Jersey,. That show was cool because it included several magicians all in one show. Also, each one of their acts was completely different.

I also like to watch magic shows on TV like Penn and Teller and Masters of Illusion. I like Penn and Teller a little better though. They have more interesting magicians, and I like learning a little bit about the magicians who appear in their show. Most magic shows on TV  don't really tell you about the magicians. They just do their tricks.  I also like Penn and Teller because it makes me feel good when even they can't even figure out how to do a trick. I feel really happy for the magicians when they are able to fool Penn and Teller

In general,  magic is a lot of fun. I still wish I was able to perform it. However, I am happy to at least be able to see people who are actually talented at it performing,

Mom - Even though I have never had any talent for magic myself, and I have never really had any desire to learn magic, magic has always been a big part of my life. I've been to numerous magic shows in many different venues over the years including  Broadway Theaters. Magicians I have seen have included Max Darwin (The Amazing Max), Deren Brown, Robert Jagerhorn, Michael Grandinetti, Bill Blagg, Sam Eaton, and more. I have seen a young brother and sister magic act,  Kaden Bart Rockett and his sister, Brooklyn, and two different incarnations of The Illusionists a show featuring several magicians all in one show. I have even seen two magic acts on Zoom since the pandemic began Jason Suran's Reconnected and Eric Walton's Virtual Impossibilities. Some of the magicians I have seen consider themselves magicians and some consider themselves mentalists. The magicians focus more on actual physical tricks and the mentalists focus more on tricks of the mind. All of them have been amazing and performed a lot of awesome tricks that for the life of me I cannot figure out how they did. I have also had the opportunity to see shows with stories that either completely revolved around magic or involved a little bit of magic.

To date,  I have seen two Broadway shows that had a story in which magic was a major part of the plot. Both of them starred the late incredibly talented magician, Doug Henning. The first one and also the first Broadway show I ever remember seeing was The Magic Show. The Magic Show was a hit that ran for over 4 and 1/2 years in the mid to late 1970s. Although that seems like nothing now with shows like Wicked running for over ten years and Phantom of the Opera running for over thirty, it really is a lot.  Even now the average show only runs for a couple of years at most even if it's a hit. Also, The Magic Show is still 38th on the list of the longest-running shows ever although Hamilton will overtake it for that spot once theater returns. The Magic Show was even nominated for a couple of Tony Awards including one for Doug Henning as Best Actor although it didn't win any. The music for the show was written by Stephen Schwartz who went on to write Pippin and Wicked among other things. Paul Shaffer, who went on to be David Letterman's bandleader, was a member of the original band of The Magic Show. David Ogden Stiers, who later starred in TV's Mash was a member of its cast as was Robert Lupone.

Henning's second show did not fare as well. It was called Merlin and focused on the earlier life of the legendary magician who is normally depicted only as an old man. The show ran for less than a year although it's 69 previews and 199 performances are longer than many other shows have had the opportunity to run. The cast included Nathan Lane, who at the time was making only his second appearance in a Broadway show,  as well as Chita Rivera and a young Christian Slater. It featured some great magic including a disappearing horse trick and a fun opening number. I am glad I had the opportunity to see it while it lasted. 

There have also been other Broadway shows that involved a little bit of magic although their plots did not strictly revolve around a magical theme. In the musical Matilda as in the movie, the chalk magically appears to be writing on the blackboard by itself. It is even more amazing to see in real life than it is on film. In Groundhog Day, at one point when the day resets itself the character of Phil is magically in his bed again even though a minute ago he was completely on the other side of the stage. The latest incarnation of the musical Pippin with its circus setting also featured a number of magical tricks within the show. I am sure there are other examples as well although I can't think of any right now and some of them I might not have seen. 

Overall, magic is great on its own and there are a lot of great magicians out there. I have had the opportunity to see quite a few of them over the years, and  I will continue to take the opportunity to see as many more of them as I can whenever I can. However, even though there will never be another Doug Henning and there will probably never be another show like The Magic Show or even Merlin, I will also continue to enjoy those little bits of real magic that happen in shows that are not strictly magic shows whenever I can.

And that's our view.  What is the best magic show you have ever seen?

Tune in tomorrow for Tips for Tuesday.

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