The Naked


   At the Broadway Playhouse

                     By Dan Zeff


Chicago—It’s been an interesting season for Chicagoland fans of magic shows. The Goodman Theatre presented “The Magic Play,” which packaged some effective card tricks within a clumsy straight play. “The Illusionists” gathered seven magicians in a Loop theater to perform a variety of magic tricks and illusions in a glitzy Las Vegas atmosphere. Now we have a week to take in “The Naked Magicians,” a magic show performed, as the title insinuates, by unclothed magicians. More of that later.

The naked magicians of the title are Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne, two young Australian men who have brought their show to the Broadway Playhouse. The men preside over a 90-minute production that delivers a selection of magic stunts, some familiar and all pretty baffling. The tricks themselves leaned on bits in which words and objects miraculously jumped from one place to another. The performers maintained a breezy raunchy atmosphere, with the duo bonding with the audience vigorously.

It might be noted that the large opening night audience contained a noticeable majority of young women, a few with male escorts but many more arriving in small groups of female friends. The ladies may just be magic aficionados or they may have been attracted by the show’s catchy title. Judging by the audience’s exuberant reactions to the salty material and the promise of male nudity, it’s likely that the crowd leaned strongly toward the latter. I’m just sayin’.

Tyler and Wayne established an easy rapport with the crowd, which I sense was raring to have a grand time immersing itself in an R-rated evening. I don’t think anyone entered the Broadway Playhouse expecting to see “Uncle Vanya.” The four-letter words and the explicit comedy went over like a house on fire. One or two of the young women who joined Wayne and Tyler on stage may have blushed a little but nobody was embarrassed and there was no lack of volunteers to participate.

Most of “The Naked Magicians” was funny, with the vulgarity cheerfully rendered by the two men and happily, one might say joyfully, accepted by the audience. Tyler and Wayne are both skilled ad libbers and on opening night they were blessed with uniformly cooperative people pulled from the audience.

        Tyler and Wayne are primarily standup adult comedians but their magic tricks were professional and mystifying. My only difficulty was in solving some of the Australian accents, but for the most part missing a few words didn’t impact on the viewer’s grasping what the men were trying to convey. Their material did not suffer from an excess of nuance, subtlety, or sophistication, which suited the ladies in the audience just fine.

    Tyler and Wayne seemed genuinely appreciative of their booking at the Broadway Playhouse. Apparently a run, even just a week, in a major theater in a major American city was an honor for the Aussies. They were enjoying themselves and their pleasure communicated itself to the crowd, already in a party mood upon arrival.

     As to the nakedness of “The Naked Magicians,” it would unfair to future patrons to go into any detail. As a reference point, expect the flesh scenes to be handled like they were in “The Full Monty.” Overall, the audience was obviously satisfied with witnessing a good clean dirty show, and at a ticket price much lower than the usual Loop presentation.

“The Naked Magicians” runs through March 19 at the Broadway Playhouse, 175 East Chestnut Street. Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., and Sunday at 5 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $50. Call 800 775 2000 or visit

    “The Naked Magicians” gets a rating of 3 stars.      

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