Created By Eugene Burger, Jessica Fisch & Ricardo Rosenkranz.
Directed by Jessica Fisch.
Magic Direction by Eugene Burger.
Produced by Opus Magica Music, LLC and Ricardo Rosenkranz.
Playing at The Royal George Theatre, Chicago.
An Elegant Evening of Illusions.
There’s something magical taking place in Royal George’s Cabaret: a 90-minute home-visit with the eminently personable and unusually talented doctor and illusionist, Ricardo Rosenkranz. An Assistant Professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine as well as a long-time student of world-renowned illusionist Eugene Burger, Dr. Rosenkranz interweaves both personal anecdotes and his patient-first medical philosophy into his painstakingly chosen set of illusions—each one of which is more amazing than the last—offering us on an uplifting and enlightening evening that transcends our understandings and perceptions in more ways than one.
Set in a reproduction of Dr. Rosenkranz’s own study—a cozy and elegant set designed by Chop von Weise, principal and founder of Chicago’s own award winning architecture and design firm, von Weise Associates—The Rosenkranz Mysteries is unlike any other “magic show” in that, not only are we introduced to amazing and novel illusions (I’ve never seen these before, anyway), but, as the set itself reflects, we are candidly introduced to the authentic and endearing personality of Dr. Rosenkranz himself. As I overheard one patron say, “The more he is himself, the better is the show.”
Herein also lies Dr. Rosenkranz’s personal philosophy on medicine: “There is something beautiful and wonderful about the unknown,” he says, “and I think, in that sense, magic and medicine share a DNA.” As Dr. Rosenkranz demonstrates in his performance, the doctor is the patient’s guide to the unknown realm of medical science just as the illusionist is the same to the metaphysical realm of the paranormal. The perspective with which the patient approaches medicine, whether as an impersonal and clinical system of testing and measuring or as a personal and cooperative engagement between two humans, is as much a paradigm that is set by the doctor as is the illusionist’s theatrics. Both establish the expectations and etiquette of their respective offices that largely determine the patient/audience experience.
That may all be to say that if Dr. Rosenkranz’s pupils are receptive to his teaching and example, our future doctor visits will be a welcome event. Dr. Rosenkranz’s casual demeanor and good-natured charm create a very welcoming atmosphere in Royal George’s Cabaret. He frequently invited volunteers to participate in the illusions, and this audience engagement further established a—dare I say—communal feeling among the audience, who all seem to have been invited over to his home for the evening.
The illusions themselves are all delightful. And not, I think, in the typical way. Few use the standard tools of the magician (e.g. pack of cards, coins, silk scarf), but even those that do Dr. Rosenkranz adds a little something extra to, to exceed our expectations; for instance, not only does he mystically read the minds volunteers, but after he then shows us convincing proof that those numbers had already been written down, before the show. Very delightful!
But if a genial MD performing mind-blowing illusions isn’t enough to lift your spirits, National Award winning Mixologist Devin Kidner helms the Cabaret bar with a trio of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails that are sure to aid in the uplifting of your winter-slogging spirits. I tried “The Illusion of Health,” and, let’s just say, her illusion was as perfect as Dr. Rosenkranz’s—them both making for an accommodating and entertaining evening for the whole family.
iPlaying at the Royal George Theatre Cabaret, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Regular tickets are $50 (with senior and student discounts available) and Cabaret table seating (4 to a table) is $75. For tickets and information, call the Royal George box office at 312-988-9000, or visit TicketMaster.com. Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through December 24th. Running time is 90 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.