There is a reason “Chicago” is the longest running American musical in Broadway history! It is hot, sexy, frenetic, and relatable. Yes, there are parallels to this millennium. When watching it I couldn’t help but think about our current obsession with the 5-minute news cycle and sensational news reporting we all claim to be exhausted by today. Apparently, nothing has changed in nearly 100 years. People crave entertainment and also being famous, even for the most heinous crimes. Only today we have better technology to distribute the—dare I say it—fake news.
. . . the eye candy is found in the choreography, which is delivered with all the energy of Time Square on New Years Eve.
“Chicago” is a satire about crime and corruption set in Chicago in the 1920’s Jazz Age that focuses on two “tomatoes”, Velma Kelly (Terra C. MacLeod) and Roxie Hart (Dylis Croman), who murdered their paramours and . landed in jail. The two vie for the public eye so they can control public opinion about—and influence the outcome of—their respective trials. They vacillate between feelings of being thrilled with newfound fame and fear of being hanged.
The police, Roxie and Velma’s attorney (Billy Flynn played by Peter Lockyer), the jail matron (“Mama” Morton played by Jennifer Fouche), the doctor, news reporters, and everyone in between are on the take and looking out for themselves…except Roxie’s poor schmuck of a husband, Amos (Paul Vogt). Amos is so innocently in love with Roxie he is completely at her mercy. Vogt is perfect in the role.
The audience came for the sexy electricity and physically-demanding dance numbers, like Velma’s “Razzle Dazzle”, and were not disappointed. Other stand out numbers were Fouche’s “When You’re Good to Mama”, Croman as a ventriloquist dummy for “We Both Reached for the Gun”, and “Little Bit of Good” sung by D. Ratell as Mary Sunshine.
The set and costumes are simple because the eye candy is found in the choreography, which is delivered with all the energy of Time Square on New Years Eve. No one wanted the party to end. The Chicago devotees cheered at the anticipation of certain numbers and some of the audience said key lines out loud with the actors. It felt a little like Rocky Horror—with jazz hands. Speaking of which—one suggestion for the producers—black light for Vogt’s “Mr. Cellophane” number.
Running time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes with one 15-minute intermission.
“Chicago” runs from February 5-10 at the Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s Auditorium Theatre in Rochester NY. For more information, click here.