Chicago Theatre Review
Prepare to Be Amazed
The Magic Parlour – House Theatre
Magic is irresistible to everyone, regardless of age, gender or social status. It’s been a popular form of entertainment all over the world for centuries and it never ceases to prompt gasps of wonder and queries of, “How did he do that?” Following the critical success and huge popularity of the House Theatre’s recent production of “Death and Harry Houdini,” which starred company member Dennis Watkins in the title role, a brand new entertainment evolved.
This new show once again stars Mr. Watkins, a talented and warmly personable young third-generation magician, who amazes his audience with feats of mind reading and prestidigitation. Because sleight of hand magic works best with the audience seated in close proximity to the magician, enabling everyone to clearly observe each stage of the trick, this show is performed in a small, elegantly decorated Victorian parlour. The effect is like attending a private party for an intimate group of 30 guests.
Dennis Watkins, whose magic training began as a youngster at his grandfather’s knee, performs his show for well over an hour without a break. In one way or another Watkins involves almost every member of his intimate audience in his tricks, squelching any rumor that he’s working with planted assistants who are in on his secrets. His program includes a variety of tricks that involve decks of playing cards, often accompanied by Mr. Watkins clever narration. The magician uses other items, such as a spool of thread, a few random paperback novels, a pack of razor blades, personal items from the audience’s pockets, and incorporates a mind-blowing ability to read his audience’s thoughts, as the finale of each trick.
When theatergoers enter the Magic Parlour, they’re warmly greeted, receive a complimentary beverage of their choice and find themselves in a comfortable party mood, breaking down all inhibitions. By the end of the evening, patrons not only leave the Palmer House with a sense of wonder, a new favorite magician and a respect for the skill involved in performing magic, but with a group of new friends with whom they’ve shared this extraordinary, entertaining experience.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented Friday and Saturday evenings and certain Sunday matinees by The House Theatre of Chicago, beginning outside Potter’s Lounge on the lobby level of the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, 17 E. Monroe, Chicago.
Tickets are available by calling the House Theatre box office at 773-769-3832 or, depending upon availability, in person at the venue.
Additional information about this and other fine area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com