CHICAGO — One of the best-kept secrets on the North Side is the Chicago Magic Lounge, hidden behind a fake laundromat.

“We want to catch people with a little bit of misdirection from the moment they walk in,” said Joey Cranford, Chicago Magic Lounge co-owner and CEO.

Once inside, guests are transported into an Art Deco speakeasy bar where the magic happens every night, starting at 5 p.m. You don’t need to have a ticket to the show to enjoy the experience that comes with the performance bar.

“You can just come in and watch magic, you don’t actually have to have a ticket, but make sure you get here early,” Cranford said.

The capacity is capped at 34 guests in the performance bar and Cranford said it often gets packed close to show time, so people are encouraged to arrive early.

To get inside the Harry Blackstone Cabaret Theater, people are brought into a library and through a secret entrance so mysterious, you’ll have to see for yourself how it opens on your next trip to the lounge.  

Once inside the theater, which has a capacity for 107 people, is where the two-hour show takes place. Cranford said they wanted to bring in Chicago’s history of the performing arts of magic and create a personal, interactive experience for patrons.

“You go in, there’s people performing already at your tables. We have about five or six musicians just roaming the house for the first hour,” Cranford said, who said this is a perfect time to enjoy the company of your friends, great food, and cocktails.

The next hour is a stage presentation with an emcee, a feature, and a headline act. About 150 acts come in from around the world each year to perform, Cranford said.

“Everything is right up close and personal,” he added.

As the lounge continues its Artist-In-Residence series, mind reader Mark Toland will take the stage Wednesdays at 7 p.m. from April 5 through June 28. Toland’s show is titled, “The Mystery Show” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

While Toland can’t say much about what guests can expect to see if they come to his show, he said each night will be different and exciting.

Finally, for people who have premium tickets, they’ll have the opportunity to check out the 654 Club, which features a 43-seat, formal, up-close experience tucked away in the back of the venue.

“It’s about seeing that surprise, that moment of joy, that dropping of mouth, like how did it happen? It was right here,” Cranford said.