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The Magic Parlour with Dennis Watkins – Exclusive Illusionist Regales

The Magic Parlour with Dennis Watkins – Exclusive Illusionist Regales

The Magic Parlour , Dennis Watkins

Looking for a delightful diversion, sophisticated night out, yet also craving something highly entertaining? The answer is The Magic Parlour  with Dennis Watkins, now celebrating its fifth successful season at the elegant Palmer House Hotel. The audience was in store for an inventive and entirely engrossing evening of classic, up-close magic. A brisk 75 minute showcase from world-class entertainer, Dennis Watkins, a third-generation masterful magician. He shared with us he learned the tricks of the trade as a child, studying under his grandfather’s tutelage.  Staged in one of the Palmer House’s swank private rooms, the 40 member, sold-out audience was captivated by both the illusions (his) and the laughter (theirs). A cultured evening of magic and mindreading impressed a crew of no-nonsense Windy City citizens rendered completely awestruck and amazed.

The Magic Parlour , Dennis Watkins

Watkins himself, most recently featured as the enigmatic lead in The House Theatre’s production of Death & Harry Houdini, played both guide as well as featured performer.  The audience members congregated initially in the Palmer House’s Potter’s Lounge, only to be personally escorted to the performance venue by Watkins. A selection of wine, beer and soft drinks are included with admission, with Watkins also playing bartender.  After the audience relaxed into their seats, the real, and pardon the pun, “magic” began.  The show was filled with sophisticated, slight of hand, card tricks, “unearthly feats” including Watkins individually swallowing, then regurgitating, razor blades tied meticulously on a string, and many more “how did he do that?” moments than I won’t detail here for fear or spoiling the fun.  The audience completely spellbound as we collectively shared some truly unexplainable things during the duration of the show’s wild ride. Watkins claimed he would “take people to the land of enchantment” and that he did.

The Magic Parlour , Dennis Watkins

Explaining early on in the show, his grandfather was his original source of inspiration, expressing to him, “if you put someone inside of a box and cut them in half, people rarely believe that is magic. They believe it’s a very special box.  But if you can tear up their dollar bill and restore it right under their nose, or look into their mind and read their thoughts, or create any number of other miracles inches in front of their eyes, that is an experience they will never forget.”  This intimate and ornate evening was chockfull of unforgettable moments from start to finish. Involving multiple members of the audience in almost every trick, myself included in the encore finale, we onlookers quickly surrendered to the spectacle that was pure Watkins. Charming, engaging, warm, with a trademark subtle smirk, Watkins is, to put it  simply, the master of his imaginative domain.

The Magic Parlour , Dennis Watkins

From the eye dazzling Magic Parlour, to the tummy tempting Lockwood restaurant, Magician Dennis Watkins also partnered with The Palmer House’s Head Chef, Mathew Wiltzius, to create a  three-course prix fixe menu to enhance the experience. Reservations are required to thoroughly enjoy an array of Chef Mathew’s seasonal farmhouse American cuisine.  Included, either an arugula salad or chilled cucumber soup, a decedent “bbq” salmon with cucumber gazpacho, charred onion, asparagus, sunflower, dill, and pickled parsley root, the truffle mushroom spaghetti or the beef sirloin bevette with roasted garlic butter. I would describe the beef as just heavenly. Dessert offered a twist on Bertha Palmer’s famous brownie, extravagantly adorned with apricot, walnut, curd, and bourbon chocolate sauce or, if you prefer, a seasonal fruit flavored sorbet.

Intimate and ornate in design, The Magic Parlour  with Dennis Watkins is a winning, mindreading, logic defying hit!  World-class magic displayed in an up-close setting, audiences will be astounded and flabbergasted. Completely appealing and absorbing from start to finish, The Magic Parlour needs to be seen to be believed.  No silly smoke and mirrors or fake trap doors in sight, just a fantastic, sophisticated and engaging night out.

The Magic Parlour with Dennis Watkins every Friday and Saturday night at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel

Out of Town

Stephen S. Best is currently a freelance writer for the Times Square Chronicles, covering the performing arts scene in the greater Chicagoland area. He has been a theater aficionado for years, attending his first live production, Annie, at the tender age of six. After graduating from Purdue University, Stephen honed his skills attending live theater, concerts and art installations in New York and Chicago. Stephen's keen eye and thorough appreciation for both theater patrons' time and entertainment dollar makes him a valuable asset and his recommendations key. Stephen currently lives in downtown Chicago.

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