Royal George(Cabaret)

The Rosenkranz Mysteries

At the Royal George Cabaret Theatre

By Dan Zeff

Chicago – Lovers of magic shows likely will be familiar with most of the illusions presented by Ricardo Rosenkranz at the Royal George Cabaret Theatre, but they shouldn’t find his string of illusions any less wondrous.

Rather pompously titled “The Rosenkranz Mysteries,” the show will still leave the audience muttering “How in the world did he do that?” Rosenkranz performed a similar show last year in Chicago, which turned into a box office hit and there is no reason why this production shouldn’t exert the same appeal.

Rosenkranz is an oncologist who teaches at the Northwestern University medical school but has carved out a second career as a magician. Dressed conservatively and looking and sounding genially professorial, he offers an intimate one-man show that suggests such outwardly supernatural phenomena as mind reading and telekinesis really exist.

In one illusion, a playing card signed by an audience member somehow flits from the closed deck held by an audience member into Rosenkranz’s pocket. He demonstrates an uncanny ability to solicit random numbers from the audience that somehow become the correct combination to an onstage padlock.

Rosenkranz takes two Rubik’s cubes, gets audience members to rearrange them, and in a matter of seconds displays them with colors perfectly aligned, even though they are separated, one in a paper bag and the other enclosed in a bottle. A ring borrowed from a patron somehow is transferred from its small box into an uncut orange hanging on an antique mechanical bush sitting on a table. A skull residing within a glass globe apparently had the ability to identify a volunteer’s birth date while she sat dumfounded onstage.

The small stage at the Royal George Cabaret Theatre has been designed to resemble the magician’s study, with viewers on top of the action, trying to catch how Rosenkranz does what he does in the unobstructed view of the audience. The performer gets periodic assistance from a female helper and mood music is pumped in, unnecesarily, from a cello and piano. But this is one-on-one entertainment between magician and spectator, a minimalist show that effectively avoids splashy technical effects and pageantry.

Rosenkranz connects the individual illusions with his extended monologue that attempts to give the evening a semi mystical New Age verbal patina. There is much interweaving of how medicine can relate to magic with frequent digressions into discussions of love, passion, and empathy. I found much of the narration cerebral white noise but Rosenkranz does have a wry sense of humor and he handles his audience volunteers deftly, even the men and women on opening night who attempted to convert their moment of show biz exposure into a bit of ego tripping.

“The Rosenkranz Mysteries” accomplish what any successful magic show must achieve—continuously entertain and baffle the audience. The doctor/professor elicits gasps and applause of his viewers for almost two hours. Some patrons might believe they have figured out how a certain illusion is pulled off, but they are kidding themselves. Rosenkranz’s mysteries remain deliciously mysterious, and the engrossed audience wouldn’t have it any other way.

The show gets a rating of

“The Rosenkranz Mysteries” runs through May 27 at the Royal George Cabaret Theatre, 1641 North Halsted Street. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $50 and $75. Call 312 988 9000 or visit

Contact Dan            April 2018

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