THE curtain rises on a magic performance by Charlie and his assistant, Laura—except that Laura is really making the tricks work. Charlie is incompetent. Where is the Magic? she asks him.
Laura wonders why Charlie is so inept; he was trained by Laura’s late father, the Amazing Jack. She is particularly perplexed in My Dad about why the Amazing Jack left his magic show to Charlie instead of to her, a more talented magician. Enter Danielle, a voluptuous French woman who is looking for Charlie. She has admired Charlie from the audience, and she wants to meet him. Danielle tells Charlie that he makes her Crazy with desire, to which Laura responds that Danielle is just plain crazy. Charlie goes off to change his clothes, and Danielle shows particular interest in a magical cabinet that has been standing upstage. Laura warns her away from it; it is her father’s cabinet and is very powerful. Charlie and Danielle go off together for a drink. A tattered old magician appears from inside the cabinet. He is Merlin, an old friend of Jack, and he has come because he sensed that Jack’s daughter might need some help. Merlin explains that there will be villains hanging around trying to get their hands on the Magic Box.
Merlin and Laura agree that she needs to learn how to work the box quickly. Merlin goes off to settle into his room and Armando appears. Armando was Jack’s apprentice before Charlie, and Armando and Laura have some history. Armando abruptly left Laura and Jack after Jack refused to teach him about the Box. Armando and Laura scold one another about their previous Evil Ways. Charlie and Danielle return. Charlie is intrigued by this gorgeous woman who is coming on to him, but he is intimated by her forwardness. Danielle tells him to stop resisting, she promises, “What I Want, I get.” Merlin, onstage alone, recalls with Remorse his previous encounters with Danielle, who is really rather old and who was Jack’s wife. Danielle had seduced Merlin when they were younger and had become pregnant with a daughter, Laura, whom Jack raised as his own. Charlie appears the next morning, exhausted after a night with Danielle. He sings When You’re In Love about his new relationship. In private, however, Danielle meets with Armando. They are lovers plotting to steal the Box, she through Charlie and he, if possible, through Laura. Laura overhears their plot. In the Act 1 finale, all the characters contemplate what it is like When Evil Wins. During the song, Danielle agrees to marry Charlie, who fires Laura. Armando realizes he is still in love with Laura.
ACT 2 opens with Laura, who thinks her mother died when she was young, wondering what her mother was like (My Mom). Merlin appears and urges Laura to work harder learning to master the Box. Privately, Armando and Danielle disagree about Danielle’s plan to kill Charlie once they are married in order to get ownership of the Box.
Danielle warns Armando that she has an alternative plan if Armando fails to cooperate with her. She leaves Armando, who sings of his reawakened love for Magical Laura. Armando exists and Danielle and Laura confront one another. Danielle tells Laura that she and Merlin are her real parents and that Jack was a loser. Laura dismisses her, but laments in My World how everything she once believed has become a lie. Armando tries to console her, but she doesn’t trust him. He tells her he will prove his love by teaching her how to work the Box. It’s simple; the Box already knows whom it will obey. It is only necessary to introduce oneself properly. Hello, sings Laura to the Box, which recognizes her as its proper mistress. Armando confirms his feelings in his Second Act Love Song. Armando tells Laura that if she doesn’t believe him, she can transport him to Callisto, a moon of Jupiter. He steps into the Box, and she transports him. Merlin enters. Laura shows him that she knows how to work the Box. Merlin, delighted, ties and gags her and calls Danielle. During the intermission, they had renewed their affair, and now he is working for her. Danielle and Merlin sing of their Victory. Merlin directs Danielle to step into the Box in order to absorb its powers. Once Danielle is in the Box, Merlin releases Laura, who sends her mom to Callisto; Merlin was on Laura’s side all along. Merlin regrets that Laura sent Armando to Callisto, but Laura explains that she had come to like Armando, and she only sent him to the corner store. Armando re-enters, and the company celebrates with a reprise of Where is the Magic?
The BookThe full book contains all lines, spoken and sung, as well as character summaries and stage cues.
A talented magician, daughter of Jack
An untalented magician, Jack’s apprentice
A talented but impaired magician, Jack’s rejected apprentice
An evil magician, Jack’s widow and Armando’s lover
An old magician, Jack’s best friend
A Magic Box
Please use the jukebox below to stream a studio recording of Magic: The Musical.
Thanks to the talented vocalists who recorded Magic the Musical:
Eric Michael Gillett did the male parts except for Magical Box, which was performed by the amazing, Tony award-winning Chuck Cooper, star of The Life. Female parts were performed by Trisha Rapier, who played in the Broadway productions of Sister Act and the Boy from Oz and the Off-Broadway production of NEWSical, among others. Please visit their websites below.
Click a song title on the left and the lyrics will appear on the right.
Where Is The Magic?
About the Author
Tony Scialli grew up in Passaic, New Jersey, about 8 miles from the Lincoln Tunnel. In those days, there was nothing to do in Passaic, so Tony spent lots of time standing on Route 3, waiting for the bus to Manhattan. He went with his brother John or his friend Howard, or sometimes just by himself. Favorite entertainments were walking in Central Park, getting an Orange Julius in Times Square, riding the Staten Island Ferry for a nickel, or eating just about anything at the Hip Bagel in the Village. In other words, he was a typical suburban kid bumming around the city.
Musical theatre was huge in those days. Tony didn’t have enough money to see everything, but he saw everything he could afford. The lines for half-price seats were shorter then, and many shows sold cheap standing room tickets. Off-Broadway was then, as now, a treasure trove of great shows at reasonable prices.
The musicals Tony couldn’t see, he heard. Records (yes, vinyl) cost about $3 and the Passaic Public Library had a decent collection of original cast recordings that circulated for 5 cents. Tony learned early that some pretty weak books could provide the scaffolding for some luscious scores.
Tony wrote his first musical when he was 16, then got side-tracked by a career as a physician and medical school professor. The first musical, titled The Dragon Slayer, was an adaptation of The Fifty-First Dragon, a short story by Heywood Broun. Although the show was entirely unpromising, it served as the basis for a new Dragon Slayer some decades later. The new show was about a writer who has done an adaptation of the Broun story and is obsessed with getting it produced. The lead character is not the writer, but a fictional heroine of the writer’s story, a woman invented by the writer himself. She disapproves of the writer’s single-minded purpose and his lack of basic decency in the way he treats other people.
The Dragon Slayer was cute, perhaps too cute, and Tony turned for his next musical to a more serious and perhaps darker subject. DORA! was written during and about the Bush era in the US, although the infamous 43rd president is never mentioned in the play, and the action takes place 30 years before he was born. The show is timeless: just as the errors of George Bush have been made before, so they are likely to be made again and again, unless someone in charge figures out how to learn from history.
Tony’s musical education consisted of 8 years of piano lessons. A more upscale bio might say, “He studied with Macy Gordon beginning at the age of 8,” but in fact, Tony spent more time trying not to practice than he did studying. After quitting formal lessons, Tony got the rest of his musical education from the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Burt Bacharach, Meredith Wilson, and dozens of other contemporary composers. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms also lent a hand. Tony won a play-writing contest in college, but that win probably doesn’t count: it was at an engineering school not much given to nurturing the arts. It’s possible that Tony’s entry was the only one in the contest.
- Dora! The Musical (2008)
DORA! was written because I can’t bicycle to work without listening to something. It happened one day that I was listening to a recorded course on World War I. There are many interesting things to say about World War I, but what impressed me the most about World War I was how similar this patently unnecessary war of the past was to the wars of my own experience, Vietnam and Iraq. Maybe people would stop coming up with new modern wars if they understood that they were simply replaying the calls to arms of all the unnecessary wars of history. And so I invented Victoria, a gypsy fortune teller who can see the past and the future as a continuous flow, where the same events play themselves out over and over. (Visit the website)
- The Dragon Slayer (2006)
A writer has done an adaptation of the Broun story and is obsessed with getting it produced. The lead character is not the writer, but a fictional heroine of the writer’s story, a woman invented by the writer himself. She disapproves of the writer’s single-minded purpose and his lack of basic decency in the way he treats other people.
Contact Tony Scialli with any inquiries.