In July, I made a trip to Chicago and had the opportunity to see Neil Tobin’s “Supernatural Chicago” at the Excaliber Nightclub on Dearborn in the River North Neighborhood.
If you are passing anywhere near downtown Chicago, you are missing a great show if you fail to put this one on your itinerary.
“Supernatural Chicago” is a one-man show that has been running for over seven years. Tobin, who refers to himself as a “Necromancer,” blends Mentalism, pre-vaudeville-style spiritualism, and the art of storytelling to create an intriguing and hugely entertaining performance.
After a brief, atmospheric introduction to set the tone, Tobin sets the mood and explains that many people have claimed the 120 year-old building is haunted, and that it has attracted the attention of several supernatural-themed cable shows. Further, he notes the huge number of people killed during the Chicago fire and says that, in a sense, the entire city is one big graveyard.
Then the fun begins in earnest.
Tobin weaves Chicago-based ghost stories, some famous, some less-so, into a seamless pattern of mystery and amazement. In the hands of a lesser-performer, this could seem forced. “Here is s story. Now I’ll do a trick. Now, I’ll tell another story. Hey, about some mindreading?” In Tobin’s hands, however, the entire performance has an organic flow. Nothing seems forced, and the entire performance feels both organic, and natural.
The stories are fascinating, and the mysteries are first-rate, and vary from light-hearted magic, to very serious, and very impressive exhibitions of mentalism.
While many reviews have noted the “spooky” nature of the show—and there are several nicely-creepy moments—what most leave out is just how very funny Tobin is. He demonstrates impeccable timing, a solid wit, and an extremely engaging personality.
Adding to the charm is the Excalibur Nightclub itself. It’s an odd place. The downstairs bar area seems to be stuck in a strange time warp. Half disco, half Goth hangout, it is as if it was decorated by someone immortal, who couldn’t quite decide what era this was. (Think True Blood’s Fangtasia with more cheese, but less hot vampires.) The show, though, is held upstairs. Guests are led from the bar, up a long, vaguely Dark Shadows-ish staircase, to the loft area, where chairs and a curtain set the stage for an extremely entertaining evening.
To buy tickets, or get more info, you can go to:
(Note: The website is simple and utilitarian, and does not fully communicate just how strong the show is.)
Seating is limited to keep the performances intimate, so definitely buy your tickets well in advance. Particularly in October, when Halloween is in the air and the “children of the night” are most plentiful.
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