The Magic Parlour -- astounding feats of magic

The Magic Parlour and Lockwood Restaurant

Do you believe in magic?  I do after attending the The Magic Parlour performance at the Palmer House in Chicago.  Third generation magician Dennis Watkins wows the audience with his sleight of hand and apparent mind reading and I came away wondering: how’d he do that? 

Dennis Watkins amazes with his card handling

The show is brought to Chicago by The House Theatre of Chicago, founded in 2001 connect the community and storytelling through interesting theatrical experiences.  The artistic director is Nathan AllenDennis Watkins is a Company member who has played lead role in Death & Harry Houdini, where he performed the Water Torture Cell feat each night.  Watkins also has received awards and honors from the Texas Association of Magicians, the Society of American Magicians, and many others.

Dennis Watkins reads minds

The Palmer House Hilton, the venerable and iconic hotel in the heart of Chicago’s loop, hosts this delightful entry into Chicago entertainment.  As soon as you step into the lobby and look up at the painted ceiling, you are brought into a different time and place and the magic show delightfully extends this feeling of fun from yesteryear.  The busy Friday evening crowd enjoyed a live jazz quartet playing from an overlook above while sipping delicious cocktails.  I spied a bloody mary that I’ll have to go back to try another time.

Our experience began with a delicious dinner in the Palmer House’s Lockwood Restaurant and Bar.  From the cold cucumber soup and the BBQ salmon entree, to the delicious caramel brownie dessert and sips of bubbly sparkling wine, dinner was delicious and the service was excellent.  The filet my companion enjoyed was perfectly cooked and her arugula salad looked scrumptious.

The fifty member audience met near Potter’s lounge and our magician and host led us up to the third floor to a room styled with voluminous curtains and luscious colors.  We found seats and retrieved a glass of wine just as the show began.

Dennis Watkins is not afraid of razor blades

Mr. Watkins proceeded “create miracles in front of our eyes” with card tricks, guessing of audience-selected numbers and dice rolls, a big finale that included a bigger than life size balloon and huge knife and an encore that neatly brought the first magic act and the last together in an astounding way.  I hesitate to go into more detail about any of the tricks because it was such a pleasure to be amazed, no one should get information ahead of time.  Watkins is an excellent showman and storyteller, with a little bit of circus ringmaster thrown in.  His deft movements and use of humor to engage the audience kept us riveted to the final reveal.  I found myself wanting to return to see the show again to see if I could figure any of his secrets.  But in the end, being taken out of oneself for a short time is the biggest prize of the evening. 

Watkins delights us with his magic and showmanship

I highly recommend participating in this unique experience.  For tickets and more details, please visit the Magic Parlour website here.


Photos: Courtesy of Magic Parlour

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