Rob's Review of "Chicago"
“Chicago” is another one of those properties that I only know about in a rudimentary way. I never saw the film or any other version of it, but I knew that it was done originally by choreography legend Bob Fosse and dealt with Roxie Hart and her quest for fame and fortune after the murder of her lover while competing with other criminals in her cell block and the lawyer that may get her there. With a quick run at the Winspear Opera House, I got the opportunity to check it out, and I was not disappointed.
Dylis Crowman and Terra C. MacLeod are Roxy and her foil, Velma Kelly, respectively in a production that keeps the simplicity of Fosse’s original vision intact. With an onstage big band (the “Chicago Orchestra”) as the only real set piece and a cast dressed in a number of different black revealing outfits that do not change throughout the entire production, it takes a special kind of performer to convey this story and keep the audience’s attention, and this cast does so on every level. There is no such thing as a “regular player” here: each member of this cast has a role to play and is mic’d up, so precision is key. The choreography is tight as a drum and the vocals are just as solid.
Another couple of cast members that need to be recognized here are Jennifer Fouche as Matron “Mama” Morton, the cell block warden that knows how cash is king, whose vocals reminded me of Mavis Staples with her power and presence that demands the audience take notice and Paul Vogt as Amos, Roxie’s doting husband that is willing to go along with whatever his wife wants him to no matter the cost. I could easily go down this entire list of cast members one by one and extol their greatness because the entire ensemble is THAT good.
Also, seeing the name “Eddie George” on the marquee was a moment that caused me to do a double take of “former Ohio State and NFL running back Eddie George?” Yep, THAT Eddie George, and usually when this is a thing, the person referenced does a quick “how do you do,” waves around a bit, and then we move on. In this case, George plays the third lead of the lawyer in Billy Flynn, and I was impressed by his performance. He does a bit of both acting and singing in a role that is pivotal to the story itself, and what I really think works for him here is that he plays the role without trying to have the big moment. Music director Andrew Bryan really does a great job keeping the accompaniment right in the pocket for George while not making it feel awkward for the rest of this incredibly talented cast. He is more a part of the team than he is a stand alone from them, and that is the way these things should work.
The mature themes are fully intact here, so be cautioned as you make your way to the theatre, but I still highly recommend this touring company of “Chicago” whether in its limited run at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas or when it comes to a town near you!