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Today, Dennis Watkins works as a corporate entertainer, magician, mentalist and speaker for events coast to coast.  But his roots are in theater.  A classically trained actor, playwright and director, Watkins returns to the theater as often as possible.  As a company member with The House Theater of Chicago, he is often thrilled to partner with the company to produce theatrical projects that tell stories through magic, illusion and mentalism.  Below you can read about a few of Watkins’ recent and on-going theatrical endeavors.

Entertainer Dennis Watkins Magic Parlour Image

An intimate evening of classic magic with Dennis Watkins

In late 2009, The Magic Parlour opened at The Chopin Theater in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.  The show played to SOLD OUT houses for almost two years before moving to its new home.

On New Year’s Eve of 2011, The Magic Parlour opened at Chicago’s historic hotel, The Palmer House Hilton.  Now, every Friday night, 35 guests gather to enjoy 80 minutes of mind-blowing magic and mentalism, up close and personal.  The show continues to grow and new performances are regularly being added to the calendar.

Take a look at what people have had to say about the show:

“‘The Magic Parlour’ is a simple entertainment in the Ricky Jay mold: old-fashioned trickery performed very well in an ideal setting by a man with a heart and a story who craves being close to his audience…you’ll be mightily impressed by Watkins, a master of misdirecting attention and technical mastery.”

-The Chicago Tribune

” A theatrical, mind-jazzing magical-hybrid show…It’s an opportunity for audiences to revert to a night of “old-school entertainment” that mixes the wonders of modern magic with a setting (thanks to the grand Palmer House Hilton) stripped from 1940s America.”

But don’t just take the critics’ word for it, check out what the audience is saying about the show on YELP.

For more on this on-going production, and to make reservations, go to!

magician dennis watkins plays harry houdini at The House Theatre of Chicago

Death and Harry Houdini

Just after graduating from college, Watkins moved to Chicago to start The House Theatre of Chicago.  The company’s first production was written by friend Nathan Allen, and starred Watkins as history’s most infamous magician.  That was back in 2001.

The show got its second production in Chicago in 2003 and ran for 8 weeks.

Then, in 2011, The House Theatre of Chicago produced the show one more time…and it was bigger and better than ever.  After selling EVERY SINGLE TICKET TO THE EIGHT WEEK RUN in a matter of days, the show extended its run…then it extended again.

These extensions were followed by a run at the Adrienne Arsht center in Miami, before the show returned for yet another sold out run in Chicago.

Because of this show, Watkins has become one of very few performers worldwide who regularly performs Harry Houdini’s infamous Water Torture Cell escape.

The show closed in the summer of 2013.  But keep an eye out, because it will escape again soon!


The Magnificents

In 2007, The House Theatre of Chicago produced Watkins’ original play, The Magnificents.  Based on his childhood and the early lessons in magic taught by his grandfather, Ed Watkins, this magical show enjoyed a terrific run in Chicago.

In 2012, The House produced another run of the production, which gave Watkins an opportunity to rewrite and redesign the piece from the ground up.

Steeped in classical magic, this show gave audiences the opportunity to experience some of magic’s greatest mysteries through the simple, yet heart-warming story of a very magical family.

Here’s what people said about the show:

Rumor has it that there’s another production of this one in the works…stay tuned!