Indulgence with Lucy Darling
At the Chicago Magic Lounge by Dan Zeff
Chicago – The Chicago Magic Lounge opened in February 2018 to serve the entertainment appetites of audiences young and old who love magic shows. The lounge, located in a nondescript area on Chicago’s north side, presents an odd physical presence. It has no marquee and only a modest address sign above its small entrance on Clark Street. Customers may initially ponder if an entrance venue even exists. The operation seems more like an illicit speakeasy, with customers having to buzz their way in through a mock laundromat with large washing machines tumbling away. A guide meets the visitors, walking them past displays of posters and other magician memorabilia into the two-level theater.
The lounge bookers draw from a vast pool of classy magicians. Magic lovers can now attend shows that previously seemed the province of Las Vegas with the television and night club markets shrinking over the years. Upcoming shows will feature “Spotlight: Women in Magic” as well as Halloween shows.
The lounge show starts with magicians moving among the tables performing small scale tricks within inches of the customers. Most tricks involved playing cards with slight of hand guaranteed to blow the minds of the amazed viewers. The tricks seem impossible, especially with the viewers watching at point blank range. At our table, the magician managed to make a pair of rubber balls disappear and then reappear in the clenched fist of my wife. Go figure!
After the table magic preliminaries, the headliner of the night takes over to perform about an hour of his or her personal magic. This is not a David Copperfield extravaganza, but personal one-on-one contact between the magician and the spectator. Visiting the venue 20 months after its opening, I was comforted to see that the lounge had gained commercial as well as artistic success. The small theater was filled and every visitor obviously was having a grand time, present company included.
My show was called “Indulgence with Lucy Darling,” Lucy being the name taken by magician-entertainer Carisa Hendrix. Most of the show is actually a stand-up comic turn with Lucy, a sexy lady wearing a mound of stylized red hair, working the audience. For much of the hour, there was more stand-up comedy than magic. But the audience seemed to love the lady’s repartee and her interaction with individual spectators, several of whom treated her attentions as an excuse to try to take over the show. But that’s the danger of audience participation and Lucy managed to keep control of viewers who seemed intent on auditioning for a show business career.
The comedy club ambience of Lucy’s act eventually graduates into a stunning display of illusions in which Lucy uses a pair of small hollow tubes to shift locations of bottles and glasses of wine on a small table. The bottles and glasses appear and disappear with a speed and dexterity that produced gasps of amazement from the audience. Those final 10 minutes of wizardry gloriously redeemed the previous emphasis on comedy shtick.
The Chicago Magic Lounge experience is bargain priced in comparison with other shows in the area. Beverages and snacks are sold but there is no minimum. Street parking is available in the immediate area for a modest $2 an hour.
The lounge caters to an adult audience, though the material is no stronger than PG-13, but there is a family show every Sunday noon that would be a terrific birthday present for a youngster. So happily the Chicago Magic Lounge looks like it has not just survived, it has triumphed in its goal of bringing top flight magic to Chicagoland audiences and visitors. The enterprise has become the local entertainment feel good success story of our day.
The lounge gets a rating of.
“Indulgence with Lucy Darling” runs on Wednesdays through December 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chicago Magic Lounge, 5050 North Clark Street. Tickets are $35 and $45. For information on the complete schedule of the lounge’s Wednesday through Sunday presentations, call (312) 366-4500 or visit chicagomagiclounge.com.