House Theatre MAGIC PARLOUR Review – Intimate Magic with Dennis Watkins

Set in an elegant event room at the Palmer Hotel, the MAGIC PARLOUR feels like the beginning of a fancy evening out at a fashionable salon. A few tables sprinkle the back of the room, but the majority of the audience is seated in a small semi circle. A few set pieces dot the stage - a poker table, a podium with strips of duct tape attached, and a mysterious trunk with hidden compartments. All of these elements make us wonder, what are we in store for?

House Theatre Presents a Lifelong Magician

Our magician of the evening, Dennis Watkins, appears from the corner of the room. He introduces himself and his history with magic. Influenced by his grandfather, he started learning at a very young age with the help of a very, very old book. He tells us what kind of magic we’ll be seeing this evening, one of several different kinds from that very book, and then we are off and running.

Being in such a small audience (only about 40 people) means the chances of being asked to participate in his parlour tricks is very likely.


In fact, he begins his show by handing an envelope to an audience member after randomly selecting this person with the help of other audience members. Without any spoilers, let’s just say whatever was in that envelope was meant to be for that one particular audience member. This act is only the beginning of a night full of pure amazement!


Mystery after Mystery Creates a Masterful Performance

THE MAGIC PARLOUR is a blend of tricks you may recognize and others are completely out of the blue - we wonder how he even came up with these stunts. He breaks a piece of thread and completely puts it back together again. That same thread becomes part of a Houdini inspired bit that involves swallowing razor blades!

There are card tricks that involve matching two individual decks card for card and another where cards magically transfer from his hand to his pants pocket. He can read minds with his eyes completely duct taped shut. There’s even a stunt involving a person-sized balloon!

The intimate space makes this show even more jaw dropping as he performs these sleight of hand and misdirection tricks right under our noses.

Dennis Watkins is a master of reading his audience and will have you engaged with his stories and magic the entire performance. Though you may be familiar with some of the illusions he creates, there is no doubt you will still wonder how he does it.


Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.


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



Now through July 1, 2017
Fridays at 7:30pm & 9:30pm
Saturdays at 4:30pm & 7:30pm & 9:30pm


The Palmer House Hilton Hotel
17 East Monroe Street
Chicago IL 60603



$79 (includes drinks)
Available by calling the box office a 773-769-3832 or by visiting The House Theatre’s website 


Courtesy of the House Theatre

Share this:

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *