Chicago Has Some Tricks Up Its Sleeve
Finally a magic act has come to Chicago just in time for the holidays. Ricardo Rosenkranz comes to the Royal George Cabaret as the physician magician to showcase how he, an amateur magician, can blend the art of medicine with the art of sleight of hand magic.
By day Rosenkranz is a professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and is known for his not so run of the mill seminars named “Magic and Medicine.” In these lectures, he uses magic tricks as metaphors for practicing medicine to bring a personal and empathic touch to the profession.
First Rosenkranz tells the audience this is how he begins most of his classes. Then, much of the show is beginning a trick with accompanying dialogue describing how this trick relates to medicine. Rosenkranz then works his way into the trick, sometimes involving audience members, builds the suspense, and finally finishes to a collective gasp and applause from the audience.
Magic Up Close
The intimate cabaret style theater space works relatively well compared to a magic show done on a large scale in a big venue. In large performance spaces it’s easy to brush off a trick and tell yourself the magician was able to hide something you didn’t see. But with this intimate space, there’s nowhere to hide. Everything is laid out on stage before you— even props that will be used for tricks throughout the entire show are in plain view— so it’s clear nothing can be altered or changed.
This show brings you some traditional tricks like mind reading and guess your card. It also includes some surprises,such as visiting spirits making drawings and writing before your every eyes.
Rosenkranz performs each trick with a certain ease, not hurrying the trick to come to its end. He stretches out the story for each trick as far as it can go and for as long as he can hold the audience’s attention. Sometimes this works well because it builds the anticipation for the end— you think you know how the trick will end, but you’re actually surprised at how it turned out. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like this slow pace is drawing out the show to the point of impatience.
This is the one thing this show lacks - the energy you might experience at other magician shows. Other artists move quickly from one trick to the next without belaboring the end. You have a quick build of suspense, a sudden burst of amazement at how you were deceived, and have little time to fall from that excitement before the magician is building your suspense again. With Rosenkranz’s incorporated lectures and dialogue for each trick, it seems like some tricks can be a bit too long before they reach their end.
The Charm and Personal Story
What the show does succeed at is charm. Rosenkranz’s script has a nice blend of the history of magic acts, humor with his cheesy doctor jokes, and his lessons with his natural lecturer's ability. It is more of a personal magic show because he is bringing his own life to this stage and his passion for magic. He has recreated his study for the set, furnishing it with historical artifacts that belonged to magicians in the past.
These artifacts also bring a surprise second character to the stage, Balsamo. Even though he may be just a mechanical skull inside a jar, Balsamo steals the show with his ability to read an audience member’s mind and his overall interactions with Rosenkranz.
Rosenkranz doesn’t have the flair of a magician pro or a natural theatrical ability of a seasoned actor,He brings himself to this stage to share what he loves. The Rosenkranz Mysteries will indeed have you leaving the theater with a sense of awe and asking your friends, “how did he manage to do that?” Is it all planned in advance? Or is it all truly happening by chance in that moment?
Slow paced, but personal, this show is somewhat recommended.
Now - February 12, 2017
Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Royal George Theater
1641 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614
Tables in the cabaret space seat 4 guests ($75 per person). Regular tickets are $50 (with a seniors and students discount available).
To purchase tickets or for additional information, visit www.ticketmaster.com or call the box office at 312.988.9000.
The show is intended for ages 12 and older.
Photos: Richard Faverty, Beckett Studios
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago