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 and ChiIL 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…

- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“…high energy, buzzy blend of traditional storytelling, music and spectacle…

– Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

“Soars on Dennis Watkins’ brilliance as a genuine magician and fearless stuntman…

– 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:


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

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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