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Showing posts with label Dennis Watkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dennis Watkins. Show all posts

Monday, July 6, 2020

Epic Escapism Awaits With DENNIS WATKINS' NEW VIRTUAL SHOW: “THE MAGIC PARLOUR AT HOME”

Tickets on Sale Now for Virtual Performances 
Every Friday and Saturday in July
(Great for ages 12+ through adults of all ages)



REVIEW:
By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara


Friday night, my son and I ditched our quarantine casual wardrobes, donned cocktail party attire, and settled in to enjoy opening night of an interactive magic show in real time. The audience included folks from multiple states and even Mexico. It was at once familiar and completely new. In the era of Covid-19, when all live shows have gone dark, Dennis Watkins has worked nothing short of real magic, creating an astonishing social distancing show that still feels remarkably intimate and engaging. 


Like his acclaimed Palmer House iteration of Magic Parlour that's been wowing people for 9 years now, audience members are called on to assist with every trick. As individuals were called on via Zoom, our screens would appear, inset in the larger image of Dennis' show. We got to introduce ourselves and where we were watching from, then join in the fun as magician's assistant. 


With all mics unmuted, the interconnection of show goers was palpable, with audible applause, laughter, and reactions, missing from so much theatre online. It was also fun to catch a sneak peak "behind the curtain" as Dennis gave us a quick tour of his home studio space, designed specifically to morph remote magic into table magic, in your own home! Theatre people are nothing if not creative, and Dennis has discovered a way to reinvent post-covid parlour magic and storytelling in a way that works wonderfully.


The $75 ticket price may seem a bit spendy for an online show, but you can bring the whole family or a party of friends, all included in the base price, as long as you're watching in the same location on one screen. And this is no prerecorded piece. This is personal and worth every penny. 

As a third generation magician, Dennis' shows are a bit family history, a whole lot of mystery, and pure joy. We're no strangers to the Magic Parlour shows. I did a video interview with Dennis back in 2012, and I'd seen his act years before that even, in the pre Palmer House days, when The Magic Parlour was in the basement of Chicago's beloved House Theatre. 

So much has changed in the intervening decade, even pre-coronavirus. Dennis Watkins is a father to an adorable toddler now, and has been featured on Penn and Teller: Fool Us. Since opening at The Palmer House on New Year’s Eve of 2011, The Magic Parlour has enjoyed phenomenal success and unimagined growth. With fewer than 50 seats available per show, The Magic Parlour has entertained over 45,000 guests in its nine-year run. Additionally, it has hosted more than 1,300 ticketed audiences and dozens of private groups, facilitated three truly magical wedding proposals, and has been featured in two books (Chicago Magic: A History of Stagecraft and Spectacle and 100 Things to do in Chicago Before You Die).

I've taken my whole family and several lucky friends to Magic Parlour at Palmer House over the years, catching the show a handful of times, and it's always just as baffling and brilliant as the first time. Even with a jump to Zoom now, Dennis' world class prestidigitation, storytelling, and showmanship hasn't changed. The pandemic may be winning in the world at large this July, but it can't keep a great magician down. 


One of our favorite new bits is a group card trick where everyone brings their own deck. Despite copious amounts of shuffling, ripping of cards, putting a bit aside, and discarding of varied numbers of half cards (different for everyone), we all ended up reuniting two of our half cards in the end! In a time when disconnection from family and friends is taking a toll on everyone, this group magic was particularly gratifying. The whole show was a welcome and invaluable break from reality.


My son was called on for a mind reading bit, traditionally done in person with books, cleverly converted to cellphone. Dugan secretly picked Narwhals (his favorite animal) on Wikipedia from millions of possible entries, then randomly 
highlighted a word from the article that happened to be recommended. Even remotely, Dennis successfully divined both and wrote them in sharpie, amazing and amusing us all! I've got to agree with that choice and add another word... highly. “THE MAGIC PARLOUR AT HOME” is highly recommended. Don't miss this!

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly). 




Tickets on Sale Now for Virtual Performances Every Friday and Saturday in July

Famed third-generation magician, Dennis Watkins, is taking his one-of-a-kind magical experience The Magic Parlour online for a completely new virtual offering dubbed “The Magic Parlour at Home.” The new virtual magic show, designed for group and family viewings, will offer multiple performances every Friday and Saturday evening in July. After the roaring success of several livestreams hosted on The Magic Parlour’s Facebook page, Watkins developed “The Magic Parlour at Home” to dazzle audiences with new and interactive magic and mind reading available directly on their screens.



Tickets are now on sale for $75 and can be purchased online at themagicparlourchicago.com. A maximum of 30 tickets will be sold for each performance and each ticket will admit one “household” or up to 10 guests on one screen. All performances will take place via Zoom and require a computer with a functioning camera and microphone to participate as well as a high-speed internet connection. After tickets are purchased, patrons will receive an email containing instructions and a link to access the performance.

“During this time, I’ve learned to adapt my craft to be able to virtually perform the same caliber of magic my guests have come to expect from my performances at the Palmer House,” said Watkins. “The new acts I’ve created for The Magic Parlour at Home will provide a truly engaging and participatory magical experience for my virtual audience.”

"The Magic Parlour at Home” is recommended for adult audiences. Guests ages 12 and up are welcome to join, while guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For a fully immersive experience, guests are recommended to sport cocktail attire and bring their own deck of cards.

A complete list of performance dates and times is below. Additional 9:30 p.m. performances may be added subject to demand:

Friday, July 3: performances at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 4: no performances due to Independence Day
Friday, July 10: performances at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 11: performance at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 17: performance at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 18: performance at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 24: performance at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 25: performance at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 31: performance at 7:30 p.m.

For complete details and information on “The Magic Parlour at Home” and Watkins’ other virtual experiences including corporate and private events, teambuilding workshops and magic lessons, please visit: themagicparlourchicago.com.

Check out my 2012 interview with Dennis Watkins here for a blast from the past:




About The Magic Parlour
The Magic Parlour is an intimate evening of classic magic and mind-reading featuring the work of third-generation magician Dennis Watkins. Guests to this intimate, magic-packed evening gather at Potter's in the Palmer House lobby before Watkins personally escorts them to the performance space. Once inside, the audience participates in much of the performance as Watkins wows the room with classic sleight of hand, unbelievable mind-reading and magical wisdom passed down from his grandfather.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

DENNIS WATKINS GIVES 1,000TH PERFORMANCE OF THE MAGIC PARLOUR FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 AT THE PALMER HOUSE HILTON HOTEL

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

DENNIS WATKINS GIVES 1,000TH PERFORMANCE OF 
THE MAGIC PARLOUR 
REACHING MILESTONE FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 
AT THE PALMER HOUSE HILTON HOTEL


I've caught The Magic Parlour every few years, since it's early days in the eclectic basement digs of Chopin Theatre. Back in 2012 I had the great pleasure of interviewing mystifying magician, Dennis Watkins, in his home. Check it out here:





Dennis Watkins expounds on being Harry Houdini in Death and Harry Houdini for Chicago's House Theatre and being his own magical self in the long running Magic Parlour show. He's done the water torture cell escape upwards of 100 times now! He also discusses the history of the show as it's evolved since 2001 and his own family history of magicians.

Since then, Watkins has moved up in the world, out of the cellar and into the elegant Palmer House Hilton Hotel! The Magic Parlour is a top pick of ours for tourists and locals alike. Watkins is charismatic, charming, and utterly baffling, while remaining refreshingly free of ego. The Magic Parlour show and Potter's Palmer House local are classic Chicago and truly a treat. 



Over the past eight years, my husband, kids, and friends have joined me at various Magic Parlour performances, and all have been amazed and well entertained by Dennis Watkins' close magic. Watkins remains one of our favorite premiere prestidigitators. We're excited to celebrate his 1,000th performance this month, as star in the longest currently running magic show in Chicago. Highly recommended! 



Dennis Watkins, a renowned third-generation magician and mentalist, has baffled and bemused audiences with his performance of The Magic Parlour. Produced by The House Theatre of Chicago, Watkins reaches a milestone on January 25 when he presents his 1,000th performance in the longest currently running magic show in Chicago. Each week, intimate audiences of just 44 guests are treated to 90 minutes of tom-foolery through close-up magic and mystifying mentalism at the storied Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel, 17 E. Monroe. The 1,000th show will be performed Friday, Jan. 25 at 9:30 p.m. While seating is limited for this milestone performance, the open run show continues in its season of five shows weekly thereafter. To find more about Watkins and The Magic Parlour, visit TheMagicParlourChicago.com.

“When we conjured up The Magic Parlour, it was a once-weekly late-night show in Wicker Park. Finding our home at the Palmer House on New Year’s Eve 2011 helped us evolve this project into the sophisticated production it is today. The audience’s imagination is at the heart of a truly magical and personal experience,” says Watkins.

The Palmer House has a rich history filled with hosting nearly a century’s worth of legendary magic performers including Chicago native and world-renowned magician Harry Blackstone, Sr., Paul Rosini, Richard Cardini, Ching Ling Fu and others. Watkins’ unsurpassed milestone at the historic venue is a testament to his ability to meld the best of magic’s captivating draw with a modern show, keeping the allure of Chicago’s deep-rooted magic scene alive for locals and visitors alike.

Available for only The Magic Parlour ticket holders, guests can toast the occasion with a magical cocktail and a special prix-fixe Magic Menu dinner at Lockwood Restaurant & Bar at Palmer House throughout February. 

I can attest, their food is fantastic! 




“I keep the show fresh by adding new material throughout each year, always diving deeper into the lessons about inspiring wonder my grandad imparted to me.  With both believers and skeptics participating, every show is a one-of-a-kind happening,” explains Watkins.



The Magic Parlour is an upscale event and cocktail attire is encouraged. The show is open to guests ages 12 and older. Tickets for The Magic Parlour are $79 or $89 each, which includes wine, beer and soft drinks served during the performance. The prix-fixe Magic Menu at Lockwood Restaurant & Bar costs $41 per person, all inclusive, and dinner reservations can be reserved at the time of ticketing.

Purchase tickets at www.themagicparlourchicago.com or by calling The House Theatre of Chicago Box Office at 773-769-3832. 


ABOUT MAGICIAN DENNIS WATKINS
Dennis Watkins is a third-generation magician who travels the country bringing world-class magic to the world's largest companies, as well as exclusive private and society events.

Watkins' critically-acclaimed one-man-show, The Magic Parlour, has been running at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago for seven years. Produced by The House Theatre of Chicago, The Magic Parlour is an intimate evening of classic magic and impossible mind-reading in a private suite at one of Chicago's most historic and noteworthy hotels. 

As a Company Member with The House Theatre of Chicago, Watkins has written, acted, and directed and performed in over 21 world-premiere productions. He appears as one of America’s greatest magicians in The House’s production of Death & Harry Houdini, including a death-defying nightly performance of the Water Torture Cell. Houdini has played seven times in Chicago over The House’s 17-year history. With awards and honors from the Texas Association of Magicians, the Society of American Magicians, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and the Desert Magic Seminar, Dennis specializes in creating unforgettable magical experiences for each and every one of his audiences. The Chicago-based magician was honored to be an invited guest on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us television show.

ABOUT THE MAGIC PARLOUR
The Magic Parlour starring Dennis Watkins is an intimate evening of classic magic and mind-reading featuring the work of the third-generation magician. Guests to this intimate, magic-packed evening gather at Potter's in the Palmer House lobby before Watkins personally escorts them to the performance space. Once inside, the audience participates in much of the performance as Watkins wows the room with classic sleight of hand, unbelievable mind-reading and magical wisdom passed down from his grandfather. 

Since finding its home at The Palmer House on New Year’s Eve of 2011, The Magic Parlour has enjoyed phenomenal success and unimagined growth.  With only 44 seats available per show, The Magic Parlour has entertained over 30,000 guests for nearly 1,000 ticketed audiences and dozens of private groups, facilitated three truly magical wedding proposals, and has been featured in two books (Chicago Magic: A History of Stagecraft and Spectacle and 100 Things to do in Chicago Before You Die).


ABOUT THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO 
The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded in 2001, led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen, and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular art form.

Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has won 22 Joseph Jefferson Awards, became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theater Award in 2007, and was awarded a 2014 National Theatre Company Grant by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards®. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

REVIEW: Puppets With Panache Kick Off House Theatre's 15th Season

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:
A Puppet-Filled Portrait of a Prodigy in Peril

A COMEDICAL TRAGEDY FOR MISTER PUNCH


The House’s Anniversary Season Opener Tells the Graphic and Haunting Tale of the Creation of Legendary Puppets Punch and Judy



Sarah Cartwright (back) as Charlotte, L to R in masks: Carolyn Hoerdemann, Owais Ahmed, Will Casey, Joey Steakley; Johnny Arena as Punch (front)




All Production Photos by Michael Brosilow



WRITTEN BY KARA DAVIDSON AND DIRECTED BY SHADE MURRAY,

SEPTEMBER 2 – OCTOBER 23




**This production is recommended for ages 12 years old and older.**

The excitement was palpable at last night's opening of the world premiere of A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch. I brought the whole family and the teens and adults all loved it! This show is phenomenal kick off to The House Theatre's 15th season. 




Johnny Arena as Punch, masks by Jesse Mooney-Bullock 

We highly recommend A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch. It's not only wildly and wonderfully entertaining, but a compelling commentary on the value of street art and in fact, art's place in society. We love the character of Charlotte (Sarah Cartwright), the young orphan, and we're thrilled she's a bright and scrappy girl, when there's still such a lack of great role models who are young girls in major roles. Adrian Danzig is also brilliant as the gruff loner puppeteer, Pietro. Don't miss THIS!!




Sarah Cartwright as Charlotte




Adrian Danzig as Pietro, Sarah Cartwright as Charlotte





Sarah Cartwright as Charlotte



JEFF RECOMMENDED!





... and that's how it's done.


House Theatre has long been one of our top favorites on the Chicago scene, and they consistently bring stellar story telling to the table in creative ways. We're completely enamored with this script and the clever staging that brings the iconic Punch and Judy puppets to life as human sized players. This production at once explores the cathartic violence that characterizes the infamous Punch and Judy genre and shatters it, with a young girl who's ready to move the narrative beyond the wife beating, baby killing, bad boy schtick. Highly recommended!

Come one, come all. Come small, come tall. ‘Tis time, dear Punch. 
Dear Punch, ‘tis time.”





The House Theatre's attention to detail is stunning, from their programs, which are always works of art in themselves, to the set design and props. We adore the collectable postcards that turn into 3 different finger puppets. The House even thoughtfully provided baskets of scissors and tape so the audience could assemble theirs on the spot! 





























Do note, this is not a children's show. Everyone has different levels of comfort with violence, so younger children could enjoy this production with parental guidance, but the storyline is truly aimed at teens and adults. 


Dangerously dark and decidedly violent, this production is best enjoyed by adults and teens. Read the Parents' Guide for content warnings. 






Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO LAUNCHES ITS 15TH SEASON WITH THE WORLD PREMIERE PUPPET-DRIVEN


A COMEDICAL TRAGEDY FOR 
MISTER PUNCH



Whenever The House Theatre announces a new show or a favorite remount I get all excited like a little kid at Christmas. Their season opener is no exception. They had me at the title. I mean really, The House Theatre prowess AND puppetry are two of our favorite things. And, extra bonus, Adrian Danzig, Chicago dad and one of our favorites for physical comedy, stars as Pietro the puppet master in this world premiere. We've known him since his son was in preschool with my 13 year old daughter and we've adored his work in 500 Clown, Go Dog Go with Chicago Children's Theatre, and so much more.

The House Theatre of Chicago is proud to announce its 2016 – 2017 season opening production, the world premiere of Kara Davidson’s A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch. Influenced by the long history of puppets, Punch and Judy, and directed by Shade Murray, the production runs September 2 – October 23 at the Chopin Theatre’s Upstairs Theater, 1543 W. Division St.




Sarah Cartwright as Charlotte, Joey Steakley as Joey the Clown, with hand puppet by Jesse Mooney-Bullock 



RUN DATES: September 2-October 23, 2016
TIMES: Thursdays - Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm (no shows 9/15 and 9/22)
PRICES: $15 - $35

Regular run tickets range from $30-35. $15 same-day tickets for students and industry professionals are available for all dates, seats permitting. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.thehousetheatre.com or call 773.769.3832. 

RUN TIME: 2 hours, 15 minutes with one intermission





Charlotte, a young orphan, has made a home for herself thieving on the streets of London. She soon falls into employment as the assistant to an eccentric Italian puppeteer, Pietro. A master of the violent Punch and Judy puppet show, Pietro becomes a reluctant mentor to Charlotte. She is inspired and charmed by his bold, cheeky, and witty creations. The two become an efficient pair under Pietro's gruff and focused attention. As their partnership flourishes, Charlotte's vivid imagination calls the puppets to life to conjure her own versions of the classic tales. But Pietro may not let his protégé cut the strings easily. Reality blurs as live actors, hand puppets, shadow puppetry and marionettes share the stage to illustrate a dark reality of imperfect adults, corrupt authority, class discrepancy, and violence.




Will Casey as the Officer, Echaka Agba as Polly 

Davidson’s A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch takes audiences back to the arrival of the Punch and Judy show in 18th-century England, before it became a popular seaside and country fair entertainment staple. The production features puppet creations from Jesse Mooney-Bullock, designer of the puppets for The House’s The Hammer Trinity. Today, many Punch and Judy shows are censored, removing Punch's cruel and murderous nature, opting for themes that are more palatable for youthful ears. But Mister Punch can't escape his peppered past. Why do we cheer for this scoundrel? How does Mister Punch, a character who has been depicted as a merciless hero-villain for over two hundred years, get away with abuse and murder? Perhaps something meaningful lies underneath Mister Punch's colorful yet ruthless exterior. 

The cast includes: Adrian Danzig, “Pietro;’ Johnny Arena*, “Punch;” Sarah Cartwright, “Charlotte;” Will Casey, “Officer” and others; Joey Steakley*, “Joey” and others; Carolyn Hoerdemann, “Judy” and others; Echaka Agba, “Polly” and others; Michael E Smith*, “Crocodile” and others and Owais Ahmed, “Flirt” and others. Understudies include: Ben Hertel, Joseph “Joey” Galizia, Vahishta Vafadari, Carlos Almedo and Gillian Butcher.
*House Company Member




Adrian Danzig as Pietro, Echaka Agba as Polly

The design team includes: Lee Keenan*, scenic designer; Izumi Inaba, costume designer; Mike Durst, lighting designer; Kevin O’Donnell*, sound designer; John Fournier, composer; Jesse Mooney-Bullock, puppet designer; David Woolley, choreographer; Jon Beal, assistant choreographer; Adam Goldstein, dialect coach; Brian DesGranges*, stage manager; and Eleanor Kahn, props master.

ABOUT KARA DAVIDSON, writer
Kara Davidson has been working with the House as an actor since 2013, but is excited to be stepping into the role of playwright this season! Two of her original full-length scripts were previously produced in the Twin Cities with Dovetail Theatre Company (of which she was a co-founder), and she is thrilled that Mister Punch will be making its world premiere on a Chicago stage. Previous (and current) productions with The House include Death and Harry Houdini (2013 and current), The Hammer Trinity, and Rose and the Rime. Around Chicago, Kara has also worked with Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare, and Manual Cinema, among others, and she regularly writes and performs for The Plagiarists "Salon" series. She holds degrees in Theatre Performance and French from the University of Nebraska.

ABOUT SHADE MURRAY, director
Shade Murray is an ensemble member of A Red Orchid Theater, where he has directed the world premieres of Brett Neveu’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Ike Holter’s Sender, as well as productions of Marisa Wegrzyn’s Mud Blue Sky and The Butcher of Baraboo, Annie Baker’s The Aliens, Nick Jones’ Trevor, Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party and Kimberly Akimbo by David Lindsay-Abaire.  He also performed in the A Red Orchid production of The Mutilated. Other directing credits include Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Steep Theater, Second City, Writers’ Theater, The Inconvenience, Strawdog, and elsewhere. Murray is a lecturer at University of Chicago and teaches at DePaul University and Actors’ Studio Chicago.

ABOUT PUNCH AND JUDY
The first record of the puppet, that eventually grew to be the infamous Punch, was made by Samuel Pepys in the late 17th century. He wrote his observations on the Italian puppet show playing in London’s Covent Garden in his journal. At the time Punch, short for Punchinello, was a puppet on strings but eventually, along with his wife Judy, evolved after nearly a hundred years to become glove puppets dressed in a jester-like fashion.




Adrian Danzig as Pietro, Sarah Cartwright as Charlotte
Pietro instructs Charlotte to keep an eye out for the Officer during the show.


Puppeteers favored street performances at first, where the title of “Punch and Judy” was born, but eventually found their way to the seaside to perform to those on vacation. Today, various iterations of the show with roots in Commedia dell’ Arte, clown and slapstick comedy can still be found at the seaside, street festivals and carnivals around the world.




Charlotte, a young orphan, has made a life for herself thieving on the streets of London. She wiggles her way into employment for an eccentric Italian puppeteer, Pietro, collecting coins from his crowds and watching out for the law. They quickly become an efficient pair under Pietro's gruff and focused attention. As their partnership flourishes, so does Charlotte’s vivid imagination. Soon, the violent Punch and Judy puppets jump to life as she conjures up her own spins on the classic tales. But Pietro may not want his protégé pulling the strings.

Our "merry little play" reveals the dark underbelly of 18th century London as Charlotte’s reality blurs with the frantic world of Punch and Judy. Filled with live actors, hand puppets, shadow puppetry, and marionettes, the story uncovers the dangers lurking in an unjust world. 
  
Show Dates:
Sep 2 2016 to Oct 23 2016
Location:
Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division St, Chicago


ALSO NOW PLAYING:


STARRING DENNIS WATKINS!


The Magic Parlour is one of our top favorites of all times, and nothing short of astonishing. Dennis Watkins is out of the dunk tank and into the parlour! Death and Harry Houdini (with its nerve wracking water torture chamber trick) has finished another acclaimed run, but you can still catch the star, prolific prestidigitator, Dennis Watkins, in his snazzy solo show at the iconic Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago. I caught The Magic Parlour back when the show was playing in the shabby chic basement of the Chopin Theatre. Several years back they moved to fancier digs, and this intimate show has grown in popularity. We took the whole family last year and even the jaded teens adored it. Dennis is the real deal, and a joy to see in action. Prepare to be mystified. Oh SO highly recommended. ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List. 

Performances begin again September 2 with more performances this year than ever before!

TIMES: Friday nights at 7:30 and 9:30pm, Saturdays at 4:30, 7:30 and 9:30pm
PRICE: $79
AGES: Recommended for ages 12 and up!
PRIVATE EVENTS: Start here!
RUN TIME: The show runs about 75 minutes. 

An intimate evening of classic magic with Houdini himself, in the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel. Award-winning, third-generation magician Dennis Watkins delivers an evening of sophisticated tom-foolery in one of the Windy City's most unique entertainment experiences. Dennis Watkins. Experience the premier magic show in Chicago, featuring mystifying feats of prestidigitation, sleight of hand, mentalism, and more. The Magic Parlour is replete with mind-blowing magic and mind reading in an intimate suite at the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel.

Guests convene at Potter's on the lobby level and will be escorted to the private performance venue. 

"A SOPHISTICATED NIGHT-CAP. You’ll be mightily impressed! " 
-Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“A perfect evening of illusion and laughter… The Magic Parlour TRANSFORMED a roomful of tired adults into WIDE-EYED, WIDE AWAKE innocents. And that in itself is Watkins’ most impressive trick." 
-Chicago Theater Beat

“This late-night magic show is exactly what it should be: funny, lively, intimate, and UTTERLY BAFFLING.” 
-The Chicago Reader

Check out our Yelp reviews for more glowing recommendations from mystified patrons

Show Dates:
Sep 2 2016 to Jul 1 2017
Location: The Palmer House Hilton Hotel


17 East Monroe Street, Chicago IL 60603




ABOUT THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO
The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular art form.



The House was founded in 2001 by a group of friends to explore connections between Community and Storytelling through a unique theatrical experience. Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has been nominated for 60 Joseph Jefferson Awards (21 wins), became the
first recipient of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theater Award in 2007, and was awarded a 2014 National Theatre Company Grant by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. Now in its 14th year of original work, The House continues its mission to unite Chicago in the spirit of Community through amazing feats of Storytelling.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ACT OUT OPENING: The Magnificents at The House Theatre #originalvideointerview


Dennis Watkins speaks with ChiIL Live Shows on his multigenerational, magical family history and the art of being Harry Houdini.

We published this interview with Dennis Watkins, back during The House Theatre's latest remount of smash hit, Death and Harry Houdini.

It was our great pleasure to be invited to Dennis' lovely northside home.  His passion for magic extends from the stage to his after hours, where he surrounds himself with vintage magic props that have been in the family, collector posters of renowned magicians, and even a Houdini coffee table volume.   Check out our mini photo tour of "the magician's lair" here.


We got a rare peek into the home of magic man, Dennis Watkins, star of Death and Harry Houdini, The House Theatre's smash, sell out hit. His love of magic goes beyond his roles in Magic Parlour and Death and Harry Houdini. He's a 3rd generation magician whose home decor includes vintage tricks from his Grandfather's shop and sweet magic show posters, for his own endeavors and others. A big show banner from The House Theatre's first incarnation of Death and Harry Houdini 10 years ago, hangs just inside his front door.
AN AMBITIOUS ALL-NEW PRODUCTION OF
THE MAGNIFICENTS REUNITES TEAM
FROM DEATH AND HARRY HOUDINI
Dennis Watkins’ personal script is led anew by Artistic Director Nathan Allen
The House Theatre of Chicago creates the magical world of a by-gone era in The Magnificents. This vivid and deeply personal play by Company Member Dennis Watkins begins performances January 18, 2013 at The Chopin Theatre (1543 W. Division St). The Magnificents will run through March 10.
ChiIL Mama/ChiIL Live Shows will be there for the press opening with the kids (9 & 11) this Sunday, and we'll have a full review up shortly thereafter.   We're all beyond excited and can NOT wait to see this show!
ABOUT THE PLAY
First staged in 2007, The Magnificents is writer Dennis Watkins’ homage to his grandfather, Ed Watkins, the iconic and pioneering American illusionist who trained Dennis at a young age in the arts of prestidigitation and showmanship. The House and playwright Dennis Watkins revisit this deeply personal script with renewed vision and expanded skill including aerial circus arts and the poignant, magic-based storytelling witnessed in Death and Harry Houdini. Artistic Director Nathan Allen now steps fully into the 2013 development of the play as its Director. Company Member Tommy Rapley revisits his role as the Boy, performing astounding magical feats all designed by Watkins. In addition to writing and designing magic, Watkins (last seen as Harry Houdini) will star in the play.
An extraordinary family, The Magnificents, delights in bringing magical entertainment to the crowds. But time has taken its toll on the family as our aging magician quietly accepts a wayward young boy as his protégé, imparting far more than the tricks up his sleeve. This touching story of what we must pass on before we can let go is told with spectacular classic magic, including Robert Houdin's legendary Blooming Orange Tree illusion. This is a delicate feast for the heart and senses.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
THE MAGNIFICENTS is written by Dennis Watkins who also designs magic for the production. Watkins received a Joseph Jefferson Award earlier this year for his Magic Design of Death and Harry Houdini. The new production is directed by Nathan Allen and features original music by Kevin O’Donnell.
Dennis Watkins will star in the role of the Old Man, and Company Member Tommy Rapley (also well known at The House for his extensive work as a director and choreographer) will revisit his role as the Boy, learning and performing extraordinary magic throughout the story. Company Member Michael E. Smith also returns to the cast in the role of Chase, the family’s clown. Guests artists include Lucy Carapetyan (Rose and the Rime, Lofty Deeds) in the role of Honeydew who will be flying through the Chopin on aerial silks, Jeff Trainor (company member with Barrel of Monkeys) appears as the strong man Harley, and Tien Doman (company member with The Hypocrites) rounds out the cast as Rosie, wife to the Old Man and mother-figure to the traveling troupe.
Company Member Lee Keenan brings us all inside the creaking and crumbling tent with an intimate scenic and lighting design. With seating on two sides, audiences are in full view of the illusions and one another. Costume Designer Melissa Torchia (The Iron Stag King: Part One) crafts a darkly playful world where the on-stage and off-stage lives of The Magnificents’ troupe is blurred. Video Designer Jack Mayer’s (HBO’s Single Long) creations reveal the secret past of the traveling show and invite the audience even closer to many magic tricks. Company Member and Composer Kevin O’Donnell fills the space with a haunting score.
Join The House for an extraordinarily magical production, The Magnificents.
Story and Magic by Dennis Watkins
Directed by Nathan Allen
January 18 – March 10, 2013
PREVIEWS: January 18 – 26, 2013 at 7:30pm
REGULAR RUN: January 31 – March 10, 2013
SHOWTIMES: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30pm
ADDITIONAL SHOWS: 2/16, 2/23, 3/2, 3/3, 3/9, 3/10 all at 3:00pm
LOCATION: The Chopin Theatre Upstairs Theatre (1543 W. Division St., Chicago, IL)
TICKETS: All tickets are $25 at www.thehousetheatre.com or by phone at 773.769.3832, $10 Student and Industry rush tickets available at all performances. Tickets are now on sale.
ARTISTS
Featuring: Company Members Dennis Watkins, Tommy Rapley, and Michael E. Smith with guest artists Lucy Carapetyan, Tien Doman, and Jeff Trainor.
Production Team: Lee Keenan (Scenic and Lighting), Melissa Torchia (Costumes), Kevin O’Donnell (Composer), Jack Mayer (Video), Nathan Allen (Director) and Amanda Frechette (Stage Management).
ABOUT THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO The House is Chicago's premier home for original works of physical and spectacle storytelling. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular artform.
The House was founded in 2001 by a group of friends to explore connections between Community and Storytelling through a unique theatrical experience. In 2002 The House was hailed by the Chicago press as “The Next Big Thing.” In early 2007, following dozens of world premiere productions, and national attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Variety, and American Theatre Magazine, The House achieved even greater success with “The Sparrow,” which Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones called, “Among the very best original theater pieces I’ve ever seen.”
Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has been nominated for 56 Joseph Jefferson Awards (19 wins) and became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theater Award in 2007. Now entering its 11th year of original work, The House continues its mission to unite Chicago in the spirit of Community through amazing feats of Storytelling.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT www.THEHOUSETHEATRE.com

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dennis Watkins Video Interview-Death and Harry Houdini Closing #video interview



Dennis Watkins on the art of being Harry Houdini




The House Theatre's smash hit, Death and Harry Houdini, reaches the end of it's final extension today.   This is, without a doubt, one of our favorite shows of the year.   




We published this interview with the show's lead, Dennis Watkins, back in the spring on Facebook and Twitter, but want it to live on in a searchable archive form, so we're breaking it back out at both ChiIL Live Shows.com and ChiIL Mama.com to celebrate the show's close.

It was our great pleasure to be invited to Dennis' lovely northside home.   His passion for magic extends from the stage to his after hours, where he surrounds himself with vintage magic props that have been in the family, collector posters of renowned magicians, and even a Houdini coffee table volume.    Check out "the magician's lair" here.


We got a rare peek into the home of magic man, Dennis Watkins, star of Death and Harry Houdini, The House Theatre's smash, sell out hit. His love of magic goes beyond his roles in Magic Parlour and Death and Harry Houdini. He's a 3rd generation magician whose home decor includes vintage tricks from his Grandfather's shop and sweet magic show posters, for his own endeavors and others. A big show banner from The House Theatre's first incarnation of Death and Harry Houdini 10 years ago, hangs just inside his front door.


In our interview, Dennis expounds on the history of the show, Death and Harry Houdini, and it's numerous reincarnations with The House Theatre since 2001.   He gives insight into how to prep for the physically and mentally challenging role and how being successful at illusion isn't about ego and mastering trick, but it's all about the magic and wonder going on in the audience's heads.

My husband and I caught Death and Harry Houdini opening night and loved it so much I spent months trying to buy tickets to take the kids back to see it.    The run originally sold out in minutes, and although I was stalking their Facebook page, every time a trickle of tickets became available, they got scooped up before I could get my finger on the button.    

We finally scored a block of tickets and my kids were able to see the show for my son's March birthday, with one of his best friends.   As I'd expected, the kids were enamored with the show and amazed with the acting and the illusions.    We all sincerely hope that this is not the last we've seen of Harry Houdini, skillfully brought back to life by Chi-town's own magician extraordinaire, Dennis Watkins!


“A highly polished and visually thrilling show…
MAGIC OF THE VERY HIGHESTORDER!”

- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“…high energy, buzzy blend of traditional storytelling, music and spectacle…
THRILLING RIDE!”

– Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

“Soars on Dennis Watkins’ brilliance as a genuine magician and fearless stuntman…
INGENIOUSLY WRITTEN AND DIRECTED!”

– Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

  



We've seen numerous productions by The House Theatre over the years and they do not disappoint.   We highly recommend you check out their 11th season.


(click the show title for tickets and more info)


Next up:

THE IRON STAG KING: PART ONE

Medium
August 31st, 2012 to October 21st, 2012

A myth of crowns and country

By Chris Mathews and Nathan Allen
Directed by Nathan Allen
Original Music by Kevin O’Donnell
Choreography by Tommy Rapley

Featuring Company Members Cliff Chamberlain and Joey Steakley
From the writer/director of ‘Death and Harry Houdini’ comes a new epic journey filled with heated battles and life-size puppets.
Our unsuspecting hero, Casper Kent, is the son of a poor farmer. When an old storyteller reveals that Casper is the rightful heir to the throne, his life is threatened from all sides. Young Casper must escape the rebels, choose compatriots and question what is good and right for the land. Join him on his quest to lift the magical hammer that will unite or destroy them all.

LOCATION: The Chopin Theatre
1543 W. Division St., Chicago, IL

HOUSEMEMBERSHIPBUTTON
Tickets start at $25




"A sophisticated night-cap. You’ll be mightily impressed! "

“A perfect evening of illusion and laughter… The Magic Parlour transformed a roomful of tired adults into wide-eyed, wide awake innocents. And that in itself is Watkins’ most impressive trick.

“This late-night magic show is exactly what it should be: funny, lively, intimate, and utterly baffling.”

“This was perfect. Perfect venue, perfect magician. I just can’t possibly comprehend how he does some of these things. See this.”

“It’s a mind-blowing, parlour-style magic show. This isn’t kiddie birthday party magic — it’s a little more sinister, darker. MUST SEE.”

“This is a magic show that leaves you speechless.”


Dennis Watkins can still be seen performing
The Magic Parlour every Friday night at The Palmer House.



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