• Book a seat at the city’s most intimate and incredible magic show
• Watch a third-generation magician read (and blow) the audience’s mind
• Gape at the glam interior of a 1920s Chicago gem
Sure, Chicago’s improv troupes are so quick-witted they make comedy seem like magic (see “Laugh Your Head Off”). But one of the smartest and funniest spectacles in town features an actual magician, Dennis Watkins, who performs his Magic Parlour most Friday and Saturday evenings. Added bonus: The shows take place inside the stunningly restored Palmer House Hilton Hotel (sister property to the Conrad Chicago), a 1925 Beaux-Arts landmark in the Loop. The interiors alone are worth the visit, all glowing marble floors, ornately patterned carpets, and acres of velvet and gold leaf. Gawk at Louis Pierre Rigal’s Greek-myth-themed ceiling frescoes in the hotel lobby, then head up to the intimate suite where Watkins performs for just 44 guests. His father and grandfather were also in the magic trade, and while we won’t preview or divulge any of his mind-reading (and mind-altering) tricks, suffice to say few guests leave without bewildered expressions and ear-to-ear grins. Ask the Conrad concierge for the latest schedule, or check Watkins’s website for upcoming showtimes. The Magic Parlour is recommended for ages 10 and up, and cocktail attire is requested.
The Magic Parlour is staged inside the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, a 10-minute taxi ride (or a 30-minute walk) from the Conrad Chicago, in the heart of downtown. Save time before or after the show to explore the hotel’s grand public rooms.
DENNIS WATKINS’S MAGIC PARLOUR: Palmer House Hilton Hotel, 17 E. Monroe St.; 773-769-3832; themagicparlourchicago.com or palmerhousehiltonhotel.com