There is something uniquely special about “Chicago”, now appearing on the stage at the Cadillac Palace Theatre as part of the Broadway In Chicago season. With a book by Fred Ebb and Chicago native Bob Fosse and music by John Kander and Ebb, this musical tale has become the number One longest running American musical in Broadway history, and I for one am thankful that it comes home to roost every years or so. Based on the original play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, “Chicago” takes us back in time to the “Roaring Twenties” where murder, greed, corruption, violence, adultery, treachery and exploitation were a part of life. Some may call this era, “The Good Old Days!”
“Chicago” is the story of Roxie Hart (Dylis Croman is an amazing talent, who is as cute as a button), a homemaker who murders her lover. Not wanting to be hung for the murder, she hires the best of the best when it comes to criminal lawyers in Chicago, one Billy Flynn (played to perfection by John O’Hurley, who it seems has made a fourth career playing this role, and does so with style and grace) to find a way to get her off. He brings every reporter to the front in order to win over the people of Chicago. In doing this, she steals the thunder of another inmate, one Velma Kelly (Terra C. Macleod is absolutely amazing in this portrayal). It is Velma who starts the story with “All That Jazz”, and from that fabulous start, we are treated to two-and-a-half hours of musical magic on the stage.
The Ensemble is truly the key to this musical working. They are energy personified, taking on different roles and backing up our main characters. Tug Watson does an amazing job as “The Jury” in the final courtroom scene. Other ensemble members are: Thomas Beven , Seth Danner, Chris LeBeau, Anthony LaGuardia, Jasond Thomas , Brent Heuser, Lauren Gemelli, Allison Blair McDowell, Taylor P. Conant, Aurore Joly, Stephanie Maloney, and Nicole Benoit. Amazing dancers with wonderful voices. Their energy is what keeps the show moving as it should.
Other featured players are Paul C. Vogt as Amos, Roxie’s “invisible” husband. This is a character we feel for, when we remember who he is, and Roz Ryan as Matron “Mama” Morton- wow! Her “Good to Mama” number in the first act is as strong as I have ever heard this number. D. Ratell does a stupendous job as Mary Sunshine, a reporter who proves that things are not always what they appear to be! The music in this show is memorable, I found myself humming a number of them, or tapping my foot or at one point in act two, clapping my hands to the beat (as was the entire audience). Think of these titles: “Cell Block Tango” where the ladies, all dressed in sexy black tell their stories of why they are “not guilty”, and “Roxie” as well as the big second act number, “Razzle Dazzle”- still a powerhouse, show-stopper!
The direction and choreography are all based on the original work of Walter Bobbie and Ann Reinking, in the style of Bob Fosse (Road direction-David Hyslop,director and David Bushman, choreographer), and as I mentioned at intermission, as long as this show lives on (which could be forever), Bob Fosse will live on, at least the memory of him- his touch, his style, his grace and his genius! “Chicago” is a classic that you must see in your lifetime (if you love good music and great dancing). I have seen it more times than I can count and each time, I get chills when they do certain numbers and I laugh at lines I already know by heart. That is what makes it special. I love when Flynn tells the conductor, Rob Bowman, if he gets an instrument, there may be a place for him in the orchestra. By the way, for the most part, the musicians onstage are local ones (the company travels with four and adds the rest in each city).
I guess the one disappointment to report is that “Chicago” will only be here through the 15th (yes, that is correct) with performances as follows:
Thursday 7:30 p.m.
Friday 7:30 p.m.
Saturday 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $30- $100 ( a bargain for a show of this caliber) and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets and at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
The Cadillac Palace Theatre is located at 151 West Randolph Street
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Chicago”
To follow the tour- www.ChicagoTheMusical.com