Free magic lessons, shows streaming online from magician Dennis Watkins

CHICAGO (WLS) -- People are finding ways to reinvent themselves today as old pre-coronavirus methods no longer work.

Since New Year's Eve 2011, guests have been mesmerized at the Magic Parlour, inside the Palmer House. It's an intimate space featuring Dennis Watkins, a third-generation magician, performing close-up magic tricks.

"The guests that are there in the room with us get to perform a lot of the magic, so they are part, front and center, of the show in a way that is really fun," Watkins said.

But that fun in the 44-seat venue was paused with the stay-at-home orders.

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"I felt like the responsible thing to do to participate in the slowing of COVID-19 was not to produce an event where people gathered," Watkins said.

Normally Watkins would perform five shows a week at the Palmer House, for more than 45,000 people since they first opened. He also traveled the country entertaining at corporate events.

"When I shut down the show, that was the same week my corporate clients were calling, saying 'We know we have this meeting in Orlando scheduled with you, but we are no longer asking people to travel unless it's absolutely essential, so can we cancel this event.' So these were happening right and left," Watkins said.

Desperate to entertain, Watkins and his team eventually came up with the idea of doing magic online.

"Now I'm sitting in this homemade studio looking at four theatrical lights, two microphones, three cameras, four monitors and I figured out what I needed to do during this time of quarantine and shelter-in-place and create something that felt appropriately professional for me," he said.

He's live-streaming magic shows twice a week on Facebook. He's also teaching magic. All of it is free.

"Hopeful we find a way to break through it during this time when we're all in our homes and do a little magic, experience a little winder then move on and come back when we can," Watkins said.

Of course there are a few challenges with this re-imagined magical act.

"If I want to perform a piece of card magic," he said. "You can't take the card, right?"

But this magic man has figured out a way.

Sometimes it takes just a little bit of magic.

The magic happens live on Mondays and Thursdays on Facebook, and the videos remain on the site for you to enjoy.
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