Chicago – the National Tour 2011

Book by Fred Ebb & Bob FosseChicago, the national tour 2011

Music by John Kander

Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Directed by Scott Faris

Choreography by Gary Chryst

Re-created Ann Reinking

who used the Bob Fosse style

Musical Direction Eric Knight Barnes

Produced by Broadway In Chicago

“Give them the old razzle dazzle…razzle dazzle them”

Bold and Brassy Chicago still sizzles

After all these years – Chicago still packs a wallop. The slick, sassy, stylish and sophisticated Broadway musical that was remounted on 1996 from the original 1975 production (which ran for 936 performances. To date, Chicago’s 1996 production has played for more that 5,930 performances making it one of the longest runs in history. Audiences love this show and the June 7, 2011 Oriental Theatre gave it a rousing standing ovation – me included! It’s that good and it never gets stale.

Chicago, the national tour 2011

Despite the terrific film version, Chicago on stage still reigns. As many times as I have seen Chicago razzle dazzle, this production reached me than any other. I think it was the flawless Bob Fosse-style dance or maybe Kander & Ebb’s score or maybe the vibrant orchestra or maybe all of the above? I loved this toe-tapping, slick, sensual, almost erotic musical. Chicago proves that you don’t necessarily need a lavish set or flashy costumes to mount a hit musical. Rather a bouncy ’20 jazz score set to clever lyrics combined with trade mark Bob Fosse-styled dances expertly performed with a variety of musical styles are all that is needed for a wonderful show. Chicago is sophisticated, stylish adult entertainment.

Chicago, the national tour 2011

From the moment you hear the jazzy whining of the horns and the hypnotic rhythms of “All That Jazz” and see the boys and girls sleekly moving in unison, you know you’re in for a treat. John Kander’s music has a 1920’s jazz based style with a tango, waltz, blues and unique dance-inspiring hauntingly melodies that cry out for movement. Chicago is signature Bob Fosse style, sleek, sexy, smooth, swift  and sophisticated featuring arm and leg movements that evolve into unique formations and energetic interaction among the dancers resulting in pure erotic pulsating rhythms.

Chicago, the national tour 2011

The story is about woman who kill their lovers and flaunt justice in a Roaring ‘20’s satirical fable that jabs at society and the legal system. Tracy Shayne is the sexy Roxie Hart and Terra C. MacLeod is Velma Kelly—both are outstanding triple threats, each can sing, are fine comic actors—and both are marvelous dancers. Shayne brings cuteness to Roxie while MacLeod is the more sensual Velma. Both land their songs and dances deftly. The show ending duets: “Nowadays” and “Hot Honey Rag” danced and sang perfectly.

The ensemble was the finest I’ve seen dancing Ann Reinking-Bob Fosse style numbers. “Roxie,” “Tap Dance” and the show stopper “Razzle Dazzle” were slick and flawless. I’ve not witness Fosse dances better performed. The ladies justify their crimes with the haunting “Cell Block Tango.”

John O’Hurley brings a fine voice and a commanding, self-aware presence to the shyster Billy Flynn. His “All I Care About” and “Razzle Dazzle” lead the way. RozRyan, as Matron Morton, belted “When You’re Good to Mama” and the sarcastic “Class” with Terra C. MacLeod skillfully. Ron Orbach wins our hearts as the loser Amos Hart as he tenderly delivers “Mister Cellophane.”

Chicago, the national tour 2011

This touring production is fresh, energetic, funny and well rehearsed featuring an “A” list ensemble of Broadway veteran dance pros. The orchestra, under Eric Knight Barnes’ direction, sounded terrific with exceptional horn work. Kander’s tuneful score is in good hands here.

If you want to see an expert Broadway musical, this production of Chicago sure qualifies. If you’ve never seen Chicago and/or you’ve only seen the film, then do get to the Oriental Theatre to witness the “real” Chicago. There is nothing like a Bob Fosse dance show. Chicago is Fosse’s best. It is thrilling and so polished. Kudos to Broadway In Chicago for bringing back this classic if only for a week.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: June 7, 2011

For more info checkout the Chicago page on www.theatreinchicago.com

At the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, chicago, IL, call 800-775-2000, www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $3- – $95, Wednesdays, June 8 at 7:30 PM, Thursdays, June 9 at7:30 PM, Fridays, June 10 at 8 PM, Saturday, June 11  at 2 & 8 PM, Sunday, June 12 at 2 & 7:30 PM, Running time 2 hrs 30 minutes with intermission, through June 12, 2011,

From the London production: