“Chicago never really had theaters built for magic,” says Joey Cranford. “We had bar magic, restaurant magic.” The city's bar magic gets the theater treatment at Cranford’s new venue, the Chicago Magic Lounge, which officially opens Thursday at 5050 North Clark Street.
After three years of performances at Uptown Underground, the Chicago Magic Lounge’s brick-and-mortar manifestation sports three performance spaces. The front bar had a soft opening earlier this week; anyone can walk in—once they figure out the building’s secret entrance—and enjoy a drink and regular “sets” by performers at a magician’s table built into the center of the bar itself. At the heyday of Chicago’s magic bars, Cranford says, “magicians would have to lean over ice bins to do magic. We get the chance to do it from scratch and do it right.”
The 120-seat Blackstone Cabaret mainstage, where ticketed shows will take place, will welcome its first audience on Thursday night; a smaller back room, dubbed the 654 Club, will be a home for close-up magic. For more on the Chicago Magic Lounge, pick up a copy of Time Out Chicago’s spring print edition, out March 7.