The Houdini Box

The Houdini Box – website

Location: The Mercury Theatre, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago

Phone: 773-325-1700

Performances: January 24 – March 4, 2012
No shows on Monday.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays – 10:15 am
Fridays – 2 performances a day, times vary
Saturdays & Sundays – 11:00 am, 2:00 pm
(March 14-March 25 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie)

Admission: $15-$36
$15 for limited view seating, $18-$26 for children (up to age 18), and $28-$36 for adults.
Chicago Children’s Theatre Flex Passes are available and allow you to get priority seating for shows and save you up to 20%.
Discounted tickets are available for school or scout trips and other groups. Contact GroupTix at 773-327-3778.

Parking: For weekend shows, valet parking is available for weekend shows for $12, and there is a parking lot 1/2 a block north at Blaine School for $10. Southport has metered parking. Surrounding residential streets have free parking before 6:00 pm.
Public transportation – Walking distance from CTA Brown Line stop at Southport, Red Line stop at Addison, and convenient to #22 Clark, #152 Addison, #9 Ashland, and #80 Irving Park CTA bus lines.

Bathrooms: The bathrooms are located in Cullen’s Bar and Grill, which is attached to the theatre, but about 3 steps down. There are no changing tables.

Nursing: There is no designated nursing area.

Handicapped/stroller accessibility: The theatre is handicapped accessible and has handicapped seating. It is small and I would no recommend bringing a stroller. The bathrooms would be difficult to access.

Food: There is no food available at The Mercury Theatre, but it is attached to Cullen’s Bar and Grill.

Special events:

  • “An Evening of Magic” (performance of magic by Brett Schneider following the show) – Friday, February 3, 10, and 24 at 7:00 pm
  • The Houdini Box Kick-Off Event with Neighborhood Parents’ Network – Saturday, February 11 at 11:00 am
  • Houdini’s Birthday Bash with performance by magician Dennis Watkins – March 17 at 2:00 pm (at Skokie location)

We paid: $10 for parking. I received complimentary tickets for the show. My ticket would have cost approximately $36.

Our experience:

The Houdini Box is musical show about a young boy, Victor, who loves magic and is obsessed with escape artist Harry Houdini. Although Victor’s attempts to see Houdini are thwarted and his mother discourages him from practicing magic, he does manage to meet Houdini and receives a very special box from him, which he hopes will contain the secrets to Houdini’s success.

I did not bring my family to The Houdini Box (gasp!). I received two tickets for the opening night performance and decided to attend with a friend instead. We planned to use valet parking, but we were told they didn’t have valet and so we parked in the lot down the block at the Blaine School. The parking lot attendant there told us that valet parking was available that night, but the valet was being lazy when he told us it wasn’t. The parking lot was nearby and a little cheaper so we didn’t mind. The theatre is fairly small and we sat in the back row but had a great view of the stage.

The Houdini Box was very entertaining. It’s only about an hour long and it’s filled with lively songs with live music, and there is a puppetry component to the show as well. When the characters leave one of the few locations that the stage is set to be, they appear as puppets alongside the main stage. When the main character grows up and becomes a man, his son is played by a pair of floating gloves and a hat. The use of the puppets is really creative and I loved how it was done. Everyone in the audience seemed to really enjoy it and I heard a kid sitting in front of us say the puppets were “hilarious”. It was funny, but it fit in well with the story too.

The show is recommended for ages 5 and up. There were several children in the audience and they appeared to enjoy the show, particularly the puppetry. I definitely think Dexter would have been too young to really enjoy the show; I think Cooper (who is 4) would have enjoyed it, but I think there are parts of the show that would have been confusing to him. If they were a little older I would have loved to have them see it. This is the third Chicago Children’s Theatre show I’ve seen (you can see my previous posts on Goodnight Moon The Musical and Dot & Ziggy) and I’ve been really impressed with all of them.

I received complimentary tickets to attend The Houdini Box. All opinions expressed are my own.

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