Eager to catch the film's hefty winds, Fran and Barry Weissler have hurriedly hoisted anchor on yet another lengthy tour of "Chicago." But not too hurriedly. This veteran-laden version is fully equipped with the requisite vitality and attitude, as well as terrific chemistry between the Velma and Roxie characters. Tech contributions also are top-drawer, while Walter Bobbie's staging follows a finely honed script.

Eager to catch the film’s hefty winds, Fran and Barry Weissler have hurriedly hoisted anchor on yet another lengthy tour of “Chicago.” But not too hurriedly. This veteran-laden version is fully equipped with the requisite vitality and attitude, as well as terrific chemistry between the Velma and Roxie characters. Tech contributions also are top-drawer, while Walter Bobbie’s staging follows a finely honed script.

Audiences who newly discovered “Chicago” from the film will again savor the magical marriage of Kander and Ebb’s outstanding score with Bob Fosse’s unique choreographic style (with credit to Ann Reinking). And they’ll see different but equally infectious interpretations of the key roles.

Brenda Braxton as Velma and Bianca Marroquin as Roxie head a delightful Broadway-experienced ensemble that has its roles and steps down pat. Braxton’s athletic Velma is a blur of angular moves, toothy smiles and contempt, while Marroquin’s Roxie offers the right blend of cockiness and vulnerability. Marroquin honed her perf in the Mexico City production prior to Broadway. Both meet their many song and dance challenges, and Marroquin also makes a perfect clowning puppet.

Gregory Harrison is smooth and oily as the handsome Billy Flynn, while Ray Bokhour is pleasingly bland as the wimpy husband, making the most out of his big number, “Mr. Cellophane.” Roz Ryan returns for another enjoyable run as the sincere but larcenous Mama. She is fully in control of the jailhouse, with a beefy presence just made for intimidation. Even the silly Mary Sunshine (Broadway stalwart R. Bean) is finely polished. There is not a weak singing voice in the cast.

With its witty and self mocking script, gymnastic dancing, leggy company and numerous other attributes, this 30-year-old musical continues to resonate. And now with a whole new audience to entertain, it’s likely to be an indefinite fixture. Perhaps best of all is its timeless theme, which demonstrates that cynicism never goes out of style.

Chicago

National Theater, Washington, D.C.; 1,632 seats; $75 top

Production

A Barry and Fran Weissler presentation of a musical in two acts with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Directed by Walter Bobbie.

Creative

Choreography, Ann Reinking; set, John Lee Beatty; costumes, William Ivey Long; lighting, Ken Billington; musical direction, Vincent Fanuele. Opened June 11, 2003. Reviewed June 12. Running time: 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast

Velma Kelly - Brenda Braxton Roxie Hart - Bianca Marroquin Billy Flynn - Gregory Harrison Amos Hart - Ray Bokhour Matron (Mama) Morton - Roz Ryan Mary Sunshine - R. Bean
With: Kevin Neil McCready, Lloyd Culbreath, Nicole Bridgewater, Mamie Duncan-Gibbs, Marianne McCord, Caitlin Carter, Christine Brooks, Steven Sofia, Mark C. Reis, Bernard Dotson, Eddie Bennett, Dante A. Sciarra.
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