“A 5, 6, 7, 8!” Lights up, orchestra in full force, and dancers sweep the stage. “Chicago” has begun. Opening a show with a classic song and dance number are vital to hook the audience. “All that Jazz” does just that. Bob Fosse’s legendary choreographer originated the dance moves for “Chicago”. His hand gestures and body movement are timeless and beautiful. The cast wears all black which allows your eyes to focus on their dancing and movements rather than elaborate costumes.
“Chicago” is the longest running musical revival on Broadway. The show originally opened in June of 1975 with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Since it’s premier performance it has sparked the interest of all types of people. In fact, in 2002 Rob Marshall directed a movie starring Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones. “Chicago” has become a staple in the theater world.
The show takes place in the mid-1920’s in Chicago, Illinois. Velma Kelly is a vaudeville actress who opens the show with the classic number “All that Jazz”. We then meet Roxie Hart who is married to her shy husband, Amos. She feels emotionally disconnected to him so she “messes around” with a lover, Fred Casely. Fred tries to leave her so she shoots him and attempts to get Amos to cover up for her. Both Velma and Roxie end up in the Cook County Jail where they meet Matron Mama Morton as well as their lawyer, Billy Flynn.
Terra C. MacLEOD stars as Velma Kelly. She is both precise and articulate which showed her ability to connect to the character. Tracy Shayne plays opposite her as Roxie Hart. Their double finale songs “Nowadays” and “Hot Honey Rag” show off their triple threat abilities. The television star, John O’Hurley plays Billy Flynn. His rich deep voice is marvelous. Years ago I saw “Chicago” in San Diego at the Civic Theater. The lovable Patrick Swayze played the role of Billy Flynn. It was fun to see the differences each actor brought to the table. Patrick was good looking and had a lighter feel to his acting. John has depth and it seems effortless for him.
Two of my favorite supporting leads were Kecia Lewis-Evans who plays Matron Mama Morton and Ron Borback who plays Amos Hart. Kecia has an incredible vocal range that scales from booming belting tones to high soprano. “When You’re Good to Mama” was a treat. I found myself smiling as she trilled. Ron does a wonderful job portraying the meek character that is Amos. His song “Mister Cellophane” is always an audience favorite. It’s sad but allows the audience to connect with him which is a great quality when done right.
If you are looking for a show that encapsulates dance, drama, music and pleasure, head to the Ordway to see “Chicago”. The show runs from August 7-12th. For more information take a look at the Ordway’s website: http://www.ordway.org