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The Magic Show (1983)

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A young magician with an unorthodox look and style's first big break is threatened by a villainous rival.



(book), (screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
Doug Henning ...
Jon Finlayson ...
Van Zyskin
Jack Creley ...
Sandee Currie ...
Taborah Johnson ...
Paul Soles ...
Paul Dorsey ...
Paul Gordon ...
Barnie Wood ...
Aaron Ferguson ...
9 Year Old Boy
Eric Richard ...
8 Year Old Boy
Les Rubie ...
Stage Doorman
Hadley Kay ...
Boy in Audience


At the nightclub Chez Manny, a new young magician, Doug, and his assistant, Cal, are hired as the headline act. Unlike the washed up no talent, Van Zyskin with his cliché style, Doug is an young ingénue with long hair and casual clothes, but with amazing talent. With the rumor of an important producer coming to see the show, the jealous Van Zyskin is determined not be overshadowed by the young upstart. He plans to steal Doug's secrets and undermine his young rival's confidence despite what unappreciated protection that Cal can provide. Can Doug keep true to himself and his art and appreciate his gifts despite what the villain plans? The result are certain to be magical. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Musical





Release Date:

3 March 1983 (Canada)  »

Box Office


CAD 4,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


Jon Finlayson as Van Zyskind was a last minute replacement for Ron Moody. See more »

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User Reviews

Valuable Document
28 April 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Doug Henning (1947-2000) made his mark as a magnificent illusionist, who brought the craft to the general public in an unprecedented entertaining manner. He also transformed the image of the magician from the top hat and tails to denim jacket and jeans.

He changed illusionists' formerly austere, mysterious ambiance to one of playfulness, fun and joy. His smile was infectious; he loved what he did and made the audience feel the same way.

It was my privilege to have attended "The Magic Show" on Broadway in 1974. I returned three more times, bringing along friends, who likewise loved it. Make no mistake, though--even though he bounces and jives to the music, like your average kid on the block, this is one awesome, truly great magician.

The only extant recording of his work is this 1981 revised and modified version of "The Magic Show" done at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto. For some inexplicable reason, the score and production was drastically tampered with, to the extreme chagrin of the original presentation.

Therefore, its value here lies in the fact that this is the only surviving recorded of Mr. Henning's work. It's also to be remembered that work of illusionists that followed Henning used his work as their yardstick to "surpass." In other words, what Henning did was then history making--taking its heritage directly from Classicists Houdini, Dunninger, Blackstone, et al.

Henning combined all achievements of those greats, then added his own unique contributions. What I adore about Henning is his positive vibration; his smile is genuine, and his love of life's the "real-McCoy."

Thus, this recording of "The Magic Show" becomes a valuable document in the history of magic and illusion, thanks to the work of one of the all-time greats: Henning.

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