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‘Magician’ set to show tricks

Jackman's 'Boy' readied

On May 22 legit insiders may get their first look at the 2003 Tony Awards’ top contender for best special event.

A consortium of Broadway producers is offering a 50-minute presentation of “The Magician,” an evening of seven illusions based on the work of legendary magician Harry Blackstone. Seven illusions will be presented for four perfs, May 22-24, at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Although nine actors are employed, the star of the evening at this point appears to be Katie, a 650-pound Bengal tiger who is presently in rehearsal in Los Angeles.

A fall 2002 pre-Gotham tryout is expected for “The Magician,” with Broadway a possibility for spring 2003. The producers are Kardana-Morton Swinsky, James M. Nederlander, James L. Nederlander, Teri Solomon Mitze, Dodger Theatricals, Marc Goldman and Gay Blackstone.

Mrs. Blackstone is the widow of Harry Blackstone Jr., who performed many of his father’s illusions until his death in 1997. The producers have acquired exclusive worldwide rights to all illusions created by the two Blackstones.

Major creatives on the project include director Leslie Reidel, writer Ivan Menchell, composer Grant Sturiale, choreographer Patricia Birch, scenic designer Allen H. Jones, costume designer Gayle Susan Baizer, lighting designer Ken Billington and sound designer Peter Fitzgerald.

Up from Down Under

Last week, several legit insiders took in the Gotham workshop of “The Boy From Oz,” with Hugh Jackman headlining as the late Peter Allen. The bio-tuner is based on the life of the Aussie crooner-entertainer and utilizes several of his songs, such as his signature “I Go to Rio.”

“The Boy From Oz” had its world preem in Sydney, Australia, in 1998, and ran two years.

Producers Ben Gannon and Robert Fox are planning a Broadway production, most likely for spring 2003. The workshop, which ran May 2-4, got high marks from observers and should help facilitate plans for a Broadway bow next year. At least one Broadway theater owner has discussed the possibility of “Boy” going into one of his venues.

Jackman drew raves for his turn as Curly in the London production of “Oklahoma!” Legit observers seemed equally impressed on this side of the Atlantic with his “Boy” performance.

“It’s great to hear someone really sing Peter Allen’s songs, because Jackman has a real baritone and Peter never had much of a voice,” said one workshop observer. Apparently, Jackman doesn’t stint on presenting the flamboyant Allen as the Liberace of the 1980s. The performer, who died of AIDS in 1992, is best known in the U.S. for being a protege of Judy Garland, husband of Liza Minnelli and star of the major Broadway dud “Legs Diamond.”

“The Boy From Oz” has a book by Martin Sherman, author of “Bent.” Other creatives on the project are director Philip Wm. McKinley and choreographer Joey McKneely.

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