Chicago may be know as the windy city (for it's air-driven politicians) but it also has a long history as a Magic City. You've come to the right place for the best list of magic shows in Chicago that run the gamut: from the up-close, intimate parlour shows to the large scale touring theatre productions from Broadway and beyond. Forget the Blues and catch a fun magic show. Check out the following special windy city magical shows...
Behind an unassuming entrance that leads into a laundromat, is the secret door to the 7,200 square-foot Deco-styled Chicago Magic Lounge. Once you've solved the mystery of how to get in, you hope ordering yourself a cocktail at one of two bars won't be anywhere nearly as difficult. Then enjoy table magic in the bar magic that's with no ticket required. Or come to see the show which begins with an hour of up-close magic followed by a cabaret show. There are both in-house magicians and special guests, so there is always someone new to see at the Chicago Magic Lounge. You can also order fun "small plates" from their full kitchen for a snack during the show.
Enjoy an elegant and classic evening of magic and mind-reading at the historic Palmer House Hotel. The Magic Parlour is for small intimate audiences of under 50 guests, cocktail attire suggested. The price of your ticket includes a selection of wine, beer and soft drinks. Dennis is a 3rd generation magician who learned many of his classic tricks from his grandfather. He is also known for originating the role of Houdini in the production of Death and Harry Houdini, where he played for seven sold-out runs.
David has been an avid magic fan since he received his first magic kit as a child. He loves magic, its history and teaching and writing about magic. He has created several magic shows and is also known for having fooled Penn and Teller on their show, "Fool Us", where magicians try to stump the famous duo. David's Cabinet of Curiosities is an hour long show, containing of course a cabinet full of odd magical artifacts with outrageous stories. Each item chosen for that nights show becomes magically alive in David's able hands.
The Magic of Chicago History
Even from the earliest days of Chicago, magic was present in a different form. Now one of the largest metropolitan cities in the Midwest, Chicago started out as little more than extensive Native American settlements of the Algonquin and Miami Confederacy of tribes. Before the first Western settlers came in to settle the area, Native American tribes practiced their own rituals and religious experimentation that looked akin to a type of mysticism to early settlers.
Early settlers gave way to bigger and more organized parties of Western inhabitants. Chicago grew, thrusting out the native population in favor of ever expanding newcomers and their technology. Soon, Chicago became a major transportation hub for the great lakes along with the local rivers. With the rise of industry and commerce, Chicago became a thriving metropolis. As the city grew, so did the number of visitors making Chicago the perfect location for notable people to meet.
While Harry Houdini was a resident of New York, his magic show took him all over the United States and even the world. However his early days, when he was a struggling magician, found him at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Tunisian Village exhibit. Performing tricks for small change among wandering patrons, Houdini met Howard Thurston, also a struggling performer at the time. The two fledgling magicians would later become fabulously famous, known for their flair for the dramatic. And it all started in Chicago.
Fellow illusionist and Chicago native, Harry Blackstone Sr. became the king of the Vaudeville magic show. He introduced illusions like levitation, perceived impalement and sawing an assistant in half. Paired with a lovely female assistant with a hardy scream, Harry amazed people, making them believe that he could magically re-attach what he seemingly cut in half.
While the golden age of magic seemed to make Chicago come alive with tricks and illusions, the Great Depression quickly dried up the gold. It wasn’t until post World War II when the economy was booming that disposable income left many in Chicago seeking entertainment. The second wave of magic shows was born.
This newer form of magic did away with large props that sought the wow factor and focused on close-up magic, pioneered in the Chicago magic clubs. This style of illusions was less about over the top performances and more about skill. Smaller, more impressive tricks were shown closer to the audience, drawing them in and leaving them wondering how it was all done. The greats of this new intimate style were Bert Allerton who performed at the famous Ambassador East Hotel Pump Room, and Matt Schulien who owned his own family restaurant and bar. Then the 1970s brought a counter culture back-lash against the magic shows of Chicago, causing the acts to change to suit audience demands.
Today, Chicago still boasts a robust magic scene with magicians and acts to amaze even the biggest fan and cynic alike. You'll find here our list of favorite things to do in Chicago when wanting magic in your evening.
PAST Chicago Magic Shows
Why see just one magic act when you can see five different acts all in one night! The Illusionists feature The Daredevil, The Deductionist, The Inventor, The Manipulator and The Trickster. Each performer has their own flavor and style, keeping the evening fresh and fun. The show is full of drama and technical thrills, as well as some heart-stopping moments. Check out this international running show as it makes a stop in Chicago for 5 days only.