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"Chicago" review: All that jazz with a lot of razzle dazzle

May 06, 2017 at 5:02 PM

Original Article: http://www.chicagonow.com/lets-play/2017/05/chicago-the-musical/

Chicago that wonderful town with the numerous nicknames “The Windy City,” The "City of Big Shoulders" and "Hog Butcher to the World," is also known as the third largest city in the United States. People around the world come to Chicago to see its wonder skyline, its museums, and The Art Institute, however; “The city that works” has a murderous legacy. Dating back to the roaring 20’s when Chicago was known for jazz music, gambling, bookie joints, prohibition and mobsters like (Al Capone), Chicago was notorious for murder and mayhem. And let’s not forget the ill-fated Chicago media that often glorified their stories to sell papers.

With all of this, Chicago was also known as the “Crim Della Crim” of entertainment and this new addition of “Chicago The Musical” hit the stage running with great performances about the infamous life of the 1920’s in this killing city.

The musical “Chicago” is based on actual murder cases set during the roaring jazz 20s. “Chicago,” tells the story of the two rival vaudeville murderesses locked up in Cook County jail and overwhelmed by obsessive reporters desire to get the fresh story of the town's new killer. Velma Kelly, the glamorous cabaret performer awaiting trial for the murder of her philandering husband and twin sister was the newest talk of the town. She had grown accustomed to her infamy and celebrity status as the 'wronged woman' and was furious when she finds herself upstaged by a seemingly innocent chorus girl named Roxie Hart an ambitious go-getter who threatens Velma's carefully cultivated limelight.

chicago-pic4In the early 1920s, Chicago's press and the public became fascinated by the subject of murders committed by women. More than a few high-profile cases arose, which generally implicated women killing their lovers or husbands. Several of the Chicago newspapers had "sob sisters." These women would covered crimes committed by women and tried to promote them through the media. When a woman was accused of killing her husband or her boyfriend, the sob sister played up the calamity of what happened to the woman to gain public remorse. Those on Murderesses Row were being depicted as this young, beautiful, introverted woman that opened up her heart and soul in a way that was beneficial to her freedom.

As the master of ceremonies prepared the audience, the stage was set for what was going to be an exhilarating evening and the host of wild entertainment, prodigious cabaret singing and the piercing mockery of celebrity trials.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery - all the things we hold near and dear to our hearts."

“Chicago” had all of the jazz, glitz, and glamour mixed in with murder, booze, sex and scandal to capture your attention for 2.5 hours. The Director William Osetek delivered this musical by presenting a show-stopping performance with a zealous accessory of glamorizing bad behavior due to the voracious desire for celebrity and stardom. The characters Velma Kelly (Alena Watters) and Roxy Hart (Kelly Felthous) used their platforms to persuade the judicial system, media, and personal relationships, either for survival and freedom or for their fame and fortune.

As the musical unfolds one can see that Velma is not the cabaret singer to mess with and was at the top of her fame. She enlists the help of prison matron; the unconquerable Matron Mama Morton (E. Faye Butler), who believes that all favors she provides to others should be reciprocated. Butler was magnificent and delightfully wowed us with the rendition of "When You're Good To Mama."

chicago-pic5Another patron of the reciprocated era was a smooth-talking trickster with a perfect track record of saving the ladies from doing time was the money-minded lawyer, Billy Flynn (Guy Lockard). He was a showpiece of entertainment and excitement and he was the one guy that was able to turn Velma’s incarceration into a murder-of-the-week media frenzy. He is the key to Velma making a splashy comeback but Roxie have her own tricks up her sleeve to make the front page news!

Another notable character worth mentioning that was played to perfection was Amos Hart (Justin Brill) Roxie’s faithful and good-natured but simple-minded husband that no one seemed to care to recognize. He spends most of the show trying to make Roxie take interest in him or even acknowledge his existence throughout the play.

“Chicago” also delivered with some of their hit numbers starting with the opening song “All That Jazz", song by Velma Kelly (Alena Watters) and Company "Razzle Dazzle" song Billy Flynn (Guy Lockard) and the ubiquitous "Cellblock Tango,” song by Velma and the Girls which had us singing and tapping along to the beat. Choreographer Jane Lanier incorporated some very sexy and provocative moves that told a story within itself.

If you like musical vaudevilles you will love “Chicago.” Even if you seen several renditions of Chicago or never seen the play, this musical is “A Must-See” of electrifying entertainment! We highly recommended this play!!

The Cast Includes:

Michael Accardo (Master of Ceremonies)
Kelly Felthous (Roxie Hart)
Alena Watters (Velma Kelly)
Guy Lockard (Billy Flynn)
Justin Brill (Amos Hart)
E. Faye Butler (Matron Mama Morton)
Alejandro Fonseca (Fred Casely)
Rueben D. Echoles (Sergeant Fogarty)
Lauren Nicole Blane (Liz)
Michael Samarie George (Annie)
Jessica Blair (June)
Allyson Graves (Hunyak)
Erica Evans (Mona)
Matt Casey (Tailor)
J. London (Mary Sunshine)
Matt Casey (Doctor)
Rachel Hafell (Go-To-Hell Kitty)
Alejandro Fonseca (Harry)
Brian M. Duncan (Aaron)

The ensemble includes Jessica Blair, Lauren Nicole Blane, Matt Casey, Brian Duncan, Rueben Echoles, Erica Evans, Alejandro Fonseca, Michael George, Allyson Graves, Rachel Hafell, Daniel Hurst, Joseph London, Jay Reynolds Jr., Haley Schneider, and Aaron Umsted

Drury Lane Theatre Presents CHICAGO
Director by Artistic Director William Osetek
Choreographed by Tony Nominee Jane Lanier
Now Playing April 20 – June 18, 2017