Reviews

Lucy Darling’s show is receiving high praise from critics and theatre reviewers.

Chris Jones Review: “stellar trickery and far more sophisticated improvisational skills”
3.5/4 stars
Chicago Tribune OCT 31, 2019

Karen Topham Review: “Lucy Darling is a joyful blend of magic, comedy and cocktails”
4/4 stars
Chicago On Stage NOV 5, 2019

Alan Brelsoff Review: “Highly Recommended”
4/4 stars
Around the Town Chicago OCT 17, 2019

Dan Zeff Review“a stunning display of illusions” 
4/4 stars
Chicagoland Theater Reviews OCT 20, 2019

David Dellman Review: “simply a joy to watch”
Blog Post on Nov 25, 2018

Chris Jones Review: buzz… for the vampish Lucy Darling 3.5/4 stars

Chicago Tribune OCT 31, 2019

Wind roared and freezing rain fell on Clark Street Wednesday evening; it was not fit to put a cat out and few humans had ventured forth into the night.

But a good shove on the washing machines at No. 5050 revealed a packed crowd behind the fake laundromat that is the Chicago Magic Lounge, an enterprise that has been doing very, very well since its bow in 2018. The weeknight buzz was for the vampish Lucy Darling — a Gilded Age character that is part Barbara Stanwyck, part Lady Gaga and part “Mad Men’s” Joan Holloway.

Plenty of mad men (in their own minds, at least), were in the room to see this alter-ego of the young Canadian magician Carisa Hendrix, one of few women in the field of magic and a performer who blends stellar trickery and far more sophisticated improvisational skills than you typically find in this world.

In essence, Hendrix, a whopping talent, has taken the classic persona of the magician’s glamorous, slinky assistant and cancelled the magician.

For where most use cards, Lucy Darling employs cocktails.
Yes, you read that right, thirsty reader. Lucy Darling solicits suggestions for favorite beverages from the audience, and then pours them from her magical shaker, an implement that somehow hides perfect Manhattans behind Old Fashioneds, Gin Fizzes atop Margaritas. Or so it appears.

Her cup-and-ball game involves a cherry and a strainer. She also makes large bottles appear and vanish; there is more hard liquor in her show than on the shelves of Binny’s Beverage Depot. And, lest you think this not a literary evening, she also asks for the names of favorite books, only to then make that specific volume appear in her bag.

All of us trying to figure out the secret behind that trick probably arrived at the depressing conclusion that if you ask most people for their favorite book, a very narrow range of titles emerge. And Lucy Darling has read ’em all. Or so it appears.

Wednesday night, sad to report, Lucy Darling was stuck with a dizzying array of nebbish stiffs in her front row: extracting workable suggestions for scenarios from this deer-in-the-headlights crew was a formidable task, but one she approached with some anarchic relish, banishing the worst offenders with a curt “boring, darling” but always doing so with a beguiling smile.

Hendrix, in fact, has other characters, not to mention a feminist podcast about magic. But it is Lucy Darling who commands the stage here of a Wednesday evening, stealing wedding rings with an impish smile, meeting expectations and drowning them in their own drool. Quite the show, and shaking up hump day in Chicago till mid-December.

Chris Jones is a Tribune critic. Review: “Indulgence with Lucy Darling” (3.5 stars) https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/reviews/ct-ent-lucy-magic-lounge-review-1101-20191031-qlncpe3jvvhefp53gis5roo75m-story.html

Dan Zeff Review: “a stunning display of illusions” 4/4 stars

Chicagoland Theater Reviews OCT 20, 2019

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.

Dan Zeff is a Chicago Theatre critic. Review: “Indulgence with Lucy Darling” (4/4 stars) https://chicagolandtheaterreviews.com/variety/indulgence/

Karen Topham Review: “Lucy Darling is a joyful blend of magic, comedy and cocktails”

Chicago On Stage NOV 5, 2019

The woman on stage looks like a Hollywood socialite right out of a 40s movie: expensive looking dress and jewels, hair that gives a new meaning to the phrase “too perfect,” a perpetual drink in her hand. Her affected voice and accent scream that she is a member of the coddled, too-cool-for-school elite that spends its time attending parties and openings and air-kissing friends and acquaintances. Even her name is precious: Lucy Darling. The truth is, though, that she is no more real than that perfectly coifed head of hair: Lucy is an alter ego of illusionist Carisa Hendrix, a world-renowned entertainer whose hilarious hour-long show is full of alcohol, hilarious improvised humor, audience interaction, and–of course–magic.

If you have never before attended a show at the Chicago Magic Lounge, Hendix’s “Indulgence with Lucy Darling” is a perfect way to start. Like all evenings at the Lounge, your journey begins by finding your way into the place through the faux laundromat out front (an homage to the building’s previous occupant). Once in, you make your way to the left to enjoy some terrific bar magic (the redoubtable Al James was featured on the night I was there) and maybe a cleverly named cocktail from the bar. (For Hendrix’s show, they’ve come up with one called “The Lucy” made with Bulleit rye, lemon juice, a spoonful of cherry preserves, and a Luxardo Maraschino.) 

After enjoying your drink (don’t worry, there is table service inside so you can always order more), you are ushered through a sliding panel to your seat in the Blackstone Theatre (an Art Deco masterpiece named after master illusionist Harry Blackstone). There, after a bit of table magic from wandering house magicians, the main event begins and “Lucy” takes the stage.

Hendrix’s instant rapport with her audience is amazing. Before the night is over she will most likely talk to everyone sitting in the front row as well as some beyond, and she isn’t afraid to joke at her own expense or theirs. She’s a whiz at building off of pretty much anything an audience member comes up with; seriously, it’s like a professional improv session at times, so funny that it’s possible to forget she’s a magician and think she’s a comedian. (On this night, she had a grand time with a couple of women who told her they were librarians as well as a young man named Alejandro who was sitting directly in front of her and became her go-to target for the whole show.)

You’re at the Magic Lounge, though: you came for the amazing illusions. Rest assured: she has those. One of her earliest and simplest tricks involves mixing a variety of drinks from the same ingredients. She asks audience members what their favorite drink is and voila! she pours it for them (and one for herself while she’s at it: three totally different drinks from one pitcher). She performs complex illusions involving mind-reading that seem utterly impossible. And her piece de resistance is beyond belief. (Yes, it again involves alcohol, and no, I’m not going to spoil a bit of it by trying to describe it.) Suffice it to say that you will not believe what you are seeing. And all the while, she keeps up a free-flowing, wonderfully funny banter with the audience, making spending the time with her an absolute joy.

Indugence with Lucy Darling is another showpiece for the Chicago Magic Lounge, which is quickly gaining a reputation as a go-to place for entertainment. Get there early if you can: when the bar fills up, you’ll need to wait outside; that laundromat is not very big. 🙂 And don’t forget to check out the rest room at some point; it’s another part of the fun and an experience in itself.

Review by Karen Topham Review: “Indulgence with Lucy Darling” (4 /4 stars)

https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/reviews/ct-ent-lucy-magic-lounge-review-1101-20191031-qlncpe3jvvhefp53gis5roo75m-story.html

David Dellman Review: “simply a joy to watch”

Nov 25, 2018

If you follow my blog, you have heard me reference late-night magic finds on YouTube. Well, one night I stumbled onto Carisa Hendrix aka Lucy Darling. The first routine I saw her do and still one of my favorites is her find the cherry routine.

You can view the performance here: Lucy Darling – Hide and Seek Martini – Lady Magician at the Magic Castle   

Carisa is funny, creative, and brilliant.

She is also an excellent example of women in the art.

Magic has for too long been dominated by men. Today there are many women in the art and I will be featuring some here in this blog. I am pleased to feature Carisa first for a number of reasons. I am a neo-Victorian performer and Carisa has that vibe at least in her Lucy Darling character but beyond that resonance, she is simply a joy to watch.

She takes classics and makes them original pieces, a rare skill but much needed.

A simple google search on her will yield some great results.

This is her main site: Carisa Hendrix 

She is a Canadian based magician and fire eater apparently from Calgary, Alberta.

Calgary was host to one of my favorite winter Olympic Games, the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Yes, I am that old.

That was the year Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt took home the gold, but I digress.

Let’s get back to Carisa.

According to Wikipedia, in 2012 Carisa “set the Guinness world record for how long she could hold a lit torch in her mouth, a feat that was featured in both the Guinness Book of World Records in 2014 (Page 86) and Ripley’s Believe it or Not in 2015.”

In 2016 she was the subject of a documentary entitled, Carisa Hendrix: Girl on Fire “which tells the harrowing story of Hendrix’s journey to star in her own magic show on the Las Vegas strip. Best known for her lovable comedy magic character Lucy Darling, Hendrix has been thrilling audiences all over Canada and internationally for the past 15 years with her signature blend of classy, sassy comedy entertainment.”

Her dream has come true because in 2015 she starred in her own Las Vegas Illusion show.

Please check out her YouTube channel here: Carisa Hendrix

I hope you check out and enjoy the amazing talent of Carisa Hendrix.

Much love,

David Dellman

https://daviddellman.com/carisa-hendrix-aka-lucy-darling/

Alan Brelsoff Review: “Highly Recommended
4/4 stars

Around the Town Chicago OCT 17, 2019

For those of you who have ever been in a theater with a comedy on stage, where I was also there, you know I truly enjoy a good laugh.  For those of you who enjoy watching magic and a comedy performance, there is a new show in town that will tickle both of those pleasure buttons. It is called “Indulgence with Lucy Darling”, featuring the amazing Carisa Hendrix. The “Lucy” character is a special blend of stand-Up comic and master magician that is known pretty much everywhere and when it comes t comedy and magic is Award Winning who is also featured in the Guinness Book of World Records, but of greater importance, makes for a fun night out on “Hump Day” at a great venue that most people are not even aware of.

Have you heard of the Chicago Magic Lounge? I know that I brought it to your attention when it first opened, but they have expanded their programs and now have some great themes. Many of us have friends that visit from out -of -town asking where can we go that is different? Well, THIS IS THE PLACE

The Chicago Magic Lounge is located at 5050 N. Clark Street ( Andersonville) and when you get to the door it appears to be a Laundromat. When we arrived last night there were people outside wondering if they were at the right address. Part of the overall fun and games of the evening! You do not have to “knock three times and whisper low, that you were sent by Joe ” ( a line from “Hernando’s Hideaway” in Pajama Game). One of the machines will open and you will enter what appears to be a library ( which by the way is filled with memorabilia from a century of magicians as well as books on magic) and bar/lounge area. If you enter the bar there will be close magic being done as you enjoy a cocktail and you are entertained until show-time check in.

When the audience is called to check in, they enter the Library and as a book is removed from the shelf, the walls part allowing entrance into a 1930’s supper club environment. A stage and several tiers of table seating await you. You are brought to your seats ( priced on different levels based on proximity to the stage) where you can enjoy some food and beverage for about 45 minutes. While you are settling in, you will be visited by one of the 6 roving magicians who do table magic, right at your table. They are all wonderful. Of course, some better than others. Al James did some great tricks as he went from table to table carrying his “bag of tricks”. Some of his stuff was astonishing and even though I watched closely, I could not see how he was able to do what he does. Magic!

Now on to the show. Chicago Magic Lounge, featuring different magic shows every night, is now featuring Hendrix show as part of their “Artist-in-Residence” series on Wednesday nights. The actual show is  about 80 minutes, so you are done by 9:30, which makes for a nice evening out when there is work the next day.

Hendrix’s character , Lucy is not only adorable, and funny, but plays off her audience as well as any stand-up I have even seen. The people in the front row seating area, are going to be a part of the performance, even if they opt not to be. She not only pulls them in, she captivates them as well as those sitting in the “cheap seats” as well. Her routine is a mix of story telling and magic woven together , each story having a magical ending. A number of her tricks have to do with cocktails and being in a cabaret, supper club setting this makes sense. Seeing an empty container pour drinks is one thing, but pouring three different drinks into three empty glasses, each one being a different cocktail is amazing.

In fact every trick ( and we know they are tricks) is creative and with her ability to tell a story and work her crowd, she is a treat to watch. This particular show will be at the Lounge every Wednesday thru December 18th at 7:30 p.m. ( seating) with the actual show starting at 8:15. I suggest that you get there early enough to enjoy some vittles and a cocktail with the table magic. This gets you into the mood for the magic of “Lucy”. By the way, her last trick of the evening is amazing and mind- boggling!

The tickets for “Indulgence with Lucy Darling” are $35 main floor and $45 front row. To make your reservations call 312-366-4500 or visit www.chicagomagiclounge.com

They have a great array of shows and on Sundays, they do Family Day magic/brunch menu. During the other performances, they are a 21 + venue. Parking in te area is fairly easy. Meters of Clark Street . The 22 bus will get you there with ease as well.

Review by Alan Brelsoff Review: “Indulgence with Lucy Darling” (4 /4 stars) https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/reviews/ct-ent-lucy-magic-lounge-review-1101-20191031-qlncpe3jvvhefp53gis5roo75m-story.html