Magnificents IS MAGNIFICENT and not to be missed at the Chopin Theatre


Rosie, Magnificent, Honeydew (top row) and Haley, Boy and Chase (bottom row)*

Set in a bygone era of carneys on the road, The Magnificents has everything… fabulous magic, aerial acrobatics, clowns, shtick, "old time" movies, romance and tugs on the heartstrings for family and lose. The audience was on its feet, cheering and applauding at the end of The House Theatre's Sun., Jan. 27, official opening on the Chopin Theatre's main stage at 1543 W. Division St.

The genuinely delightful "family" troupe, the Magnificents, who travel about bringing magical fun and entertainment to crowds, know that their aging leader is ill. Reality puts into question what will happen when the Magnificent is no longer with them making the magic happen. Reality is not always what anyone wants to face so they attempt to ignore it.

Dennis Watkins as the Magnificent is strong yet frail, feeble yet agile as he weaves life lessons into each magical illusion. His protégé, Boy, is a wayward young boy, on whose shoulders the troupe's existence will teeter as he learns more than just magic from the Magnificent.

Watkins is an award-winning magician, actor and playwright and there is more than sleight of hand magic in this creation. There is the magic of personal appreciation of Ed Watkins, the beloved Texan sleight of hand artist who trained him in the arts of prestidigitation and showmanship…his grandfather. Originally staged in 2007, this version is a collaboration between Watkins and The House's Artistic Director Nathan Allen. Together they have created an enchanting experience for people of all ages.

Tommy Rapley gives a speechless performance (literally) as Boy. He performs magic on stage and in the air with and without a clown's nose. Rapley has worked extensively with The House as a director and choreographer.

Aerial silks give Lucy Carapetya, as Honeydew, the opportunity to shine as she performs those death-defying beautifully posed balletic positions and drops high overhead. The head family clown, Chase, is played well by Michael E. Smith while the role of Haley, the strong man, is brought to life by Jeff Trainor. Magnificent's wife Rosie, played by Tien Doman, rounds out the talented loving family.

Lee Keenan's set design and lighting is part of the magnificence of the Magnificents. It is easy to believe you are under the big top enjoying the performances, behind the scenes with the family yet part of the journey on the road. Kevin O'Donnell, composer, continues to know just the right notes and melodies to enhance yet another House production.

Videos by Jack Mayer added to the illusion of the era as did Melissa Torchia's costuming.

The only part of the show that was somewhat weak was around Robert Houdin's legendary Blooming Orange Tree illusion. A scraggly tree was shown in one of the videos and a "tree" was on the side of the set but the transition to it in the story line could use some strengthening.

This must see show runs through Mar. 10. For tickets go to the Chopin Theatre site or call 773.769.3832. Tickets are $25


*Photo by Michael Brosilow



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