WOW! What a show! I had never been more excited to see a musical than I was to see CHICAGO! The soundtrack has been a favorite of mine for years, as has the Academy Award winning film after its 2002 release, so I was beyond thrilled when I got the opportunity to see CHICAGO in Chicago at the Ford Oriental Theatre! What could be better? Not only is CHICAGO the fifth longest running production in the history of Broadway, but is also the winner of six Tony Awards! This was bound to be the experience of a lifetime!
“Murder. Greed. Corruption. Violence. Exploitation. Adultery. Treachery. Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920’s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who maliciously murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s headlines”
CHICAGO was written in 1963 by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse with music by John Kander. It opened for the first time in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre with Chita Rivera starring as Velma Kelly. Directed by Scott Faris, the national tour of CHICAGO has been seen in 24 countries and has been adapted into 11 different languages.
It’s impossible not to be swept away by the glitz and glamour that is CHICAGO. I couldn’t even sit still in my seat as I awaited the opening number, and my favorite of the entire production, “All That Jazz”. The result was simply mind blowing.
As the curtains open the stage is completely bare, with the exception of the band (Ralph Burns, Director). Chills ran down my spine as they began playing the overture. Then the dancers filed out, sensually and acrobatically moving in typical Fosse style (Gary Chryst, Choreographer). The anticipation continued to build and then finally Velma took to the stage and began crooning in a low raspy voice that was somehow as smooth as the liquor she was singing about. She mesmerized the audience, holding their attention with a powerful and alluring presence. As she and the other scantily clad players strutted about the stage singing about the fast and flirty lifestyle of Prohibition Era Chicago, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a real Vaudeville show! As she belted the final note, I just stared in awe. It was the best live number I had ever seen!
The rest of the evening followed suit. Just when I didn’t think the show could get any better, there would be a new dance, a new character introduced, a new song.
Favorites included “Cell Block Tango”, “Funny Honey”, “Razzle Dazzle”, “Mister Cellophane”, “They Both Reached For The Gun”, “All I Care About”, especially the unforgettable final number “Hot Honey Rag”.
Cast includes Tracy Shayne (Broadway: Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables) as Roxie, Terra C.MacLeod (Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Produces. Film: The Lizzie McGuire Movie) as Velma, Ron Orbach (Broadway: Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Film: Clueless. Television: Law and Order.) as Amos and headliner and award winning actor, most famous for his role as J.Peterman on “Seinfeld” and as the winner of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”, John O’Hurley.
Simply put, CHICAGO was beyond incredible. The dancing is like nothing you’ve ever seen. The singing is like nothing you’ve ever heard. You’ll laugh, you’ll cheer and you’ll hum the soundtrack all the way home. CHICAGO is a truly unforgettable performance and you do not want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the magic!
CHICAGO plays at The Ford Oriental Theatre on the following schedule:
June 8 at 7:30pm
June 9 at 7:30pm
June 10 at 7:30pm
June 11 at 2pm and 7:30pm
June12 at 2pm and 7:30pm
Tickets range from $30 to $95 and are available at all Broadway in Chicago Box Offices.