House Theatre Presents THE MAGIC PARLOUR Review – Wonder and Joy

Joy. Astonishment. Wonder.

Those are the emotions bound to spread across your face when witnessing magician Dennis Watkins (who recently performed on the CW television series Penn and Teller's Fool Us) perform in The Magic Parlour, an intimate evening of magic and illusion presented by The House Theatre of Chicago in the legendary Palmer House Hilton hotel.

(Read Picture this Post's review of the Palmer House Hilton Hotel here.)

Now in its fifth year, this special show invites audiences of no more than forty to witness astounding feats of magic from a masterful, third-generation magician. You are encouraged to wear cocktail attire and meet at Potter's inside the Palmer House, before being led to a private room by Dennis Watkins himself, who exuberantly explains that you are in for a very special evening.

The Magic Parlour Offers Something for Everyone

At the start of The Magic Parlour, magician Dennis Watkins explains that when he was seven years old, he went to his grandfather--who owned and operated a magic shop--and asked him to teach him magic. His grandfather was a sleight of hand expert; however, Watkins soon learned other types of magic as well. In The Magic Parlour, Watkins explains that there are several categories of magic “tricks:” vanishes, transportations, mentalism, and amazing feats of physical skill.

Throughout the evening, Dennis Watkins shares such illusions, astounding and mesmerizing with an amiable stage presences that draws you in. Some tricks are the ones he most remembers his grandfather performing, such as a crowd-pleasing card trick in which audiences are invited to surround him at a table from all sides to watch. Other tricks go bigger, using props like razor blades, romance novels, duct tape, or balloons to delight and mystify.

The House Theatre Has A Winner in Dennis Watkins

Although The Magic Parlour would surely be a success based solely on the novelty of its locale, intimacy of presentation, and quality of the stage illusions on display, the glue holding the evening together is Watkins himself. His warmth and excitement is infectious, permeating the room in all interactions with audiences. Whether speaking to the group as a whole or injecting a bit of humor into his interactions with a volunteer, Watkins keeps you engaged and the evening entertaining as he shares a slew of well-crafted tricks that challenge the laws of physics and spark imagination.

Magician Dennis Watkins performs a classic Houdini trick with razor blades. Photo: Ryan Bourque
Photo: Ryan Bourque

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

When:

Performing for an open run.

Regular performances take place Fridays and Saturdays evenings at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and Saturday afternoons at 4:30 p.m.

Where:

Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel
17 E. Monroe
Chicago, IL

Tickets:

Tickets are $79 each, which includes wine and beer selections, and may be purchased at www.themagicparlourchicago.com, or by calling The House Theatre of Chicago Box Office at 773.769.3832.

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.

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