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