Welcome to a sensational tale of our fair city.
The national tour of CHICAGO, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, sizzles with razzle dazzle, amazing choreography and foul play. Bob Fosse’s distinctive Broadway choreography—curved shoulders, turned-in knees, finger snaps and jazz hands—captivates. The minimal set and sexy black costumes flaunt the ensemble’s sinewy bodies and physically-demanding dance moves.
Set in the Roaring Twenties, this production remains true to the 1996 Tony Award-winning revival choreographed by Ann Reinking “in the style of Fosse”. David Bushman recreates Reinking’s choreography, and fantastic music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb don’t disappoint.
The show opens with the crowd pleaser “All That Jazz”, led by vaudeville star Velma Kelly, who killed her sister and husband when she found them in bed together. Next, Velma (Lana Gordon) meets murderess Roxie Hart (Dylis Croman) in Cook County Jail, where they compete for publicity, fame and a crooked lawyer’s attention. Used to the spotlight, Velma is not happy to watch her notoriety wane as Roxie’s grows.
Corrupt warden “Mama” Morton (Jennifer Fouché) controls the women’s cell block at the jail. Mama demands cash for introducing the inmates to lawyer Billy Flynn (Eddie George), who expertly leverages sensationalism to win acquittal for his clients. Desperate to avoid conviction and possible execution, Roxie hires Flynn to save her. He frames her crime with scandalous headlines, manipulating the media—and the public—into seeing her as a victim (she killed her lover when he refused to make her a star) and woman fighting for her life. As Roxie’s trial gathers steam, Flynn captures the essence of Roxie’s—and his—M.O.: “This trial. The whole world. It’s all show business.” Flynn gets Roxie acquitted. But just as the verdict is announced, an even more sensational crime draws the media from the courtroom. Roxie’s fleeting fame has passed.
Former NFL running back George revives his Broadway role as Flynn. Moving from the football field to the stage, George brings enthusiasm and humor to his role. However, while his acting chops are adequate, his dancing and vocal abilities pale in comparison to the tightly knit ensemble’s.
In the final scene, Velma and Roxie become team players, as they face life alone, without fame, love or money. Believing that two jazz murderesses are better than one, Roxie accepts Velma’s request to become her song-and-dance partner. Their beautiful harmonies in “Nowadays” (Isn’t it grand? Isn’t it great?) showcase their vocal excellence and emotional range. They tackle the game of life with style, finesse…and all that jazz.
Broadway in Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph Street, Chicago. Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.