A jaded Windy City theatergoer might greet the umpteenth touring return of "Chicago" with a shrug and ask, "That old show again?" The smash hit 1996 Broadway revival is not only the longest-running American show in Broadway history, but this "Chicago" tour, back again at the Bank of America Theatre, also features a number of stars who previously toured to this town.
But once the onstage orchestra ramps up its brassy overture and the scantily-clad choristers start showing off their dancing assets in the sock-'em-dead opener "All That Jazz," "Chicago" seduces you all over again. The musical is in shipshape form and slinks in like a former crush -- reminding you why you fell for its allure in the first place.
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"Chicago"★ ★ ★ ½
Location: Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago, (800) 775-2000, broadwayinchicago.com
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 2
Running time: About two hours, 30 minutes with intermission
Parking: Nearby pay lots and limited metered street parking
Rating: For teens and older; mature language and subject matter
In our reality TV age of instant fame, "Chicago" still packs a cynical punch as it examines America's celebrity culture -- one that appears to reward scandal above all else. Set in 1920s Chicago, the show focuses on two female killers who try to manipulate the media and the courts to become vaudeville stars.
"Chicago" and its jazzy score by John Kander and Fred Ebb are so entertaining that you don't mind cheering for main anti-hero Roxie Hart, easily dismissed as a "dumb, cheap, common criminal."
Mexican star Bianca Marroquin is unquestionably one of the funniest Roxie Harts out there. She also dances much better than many stunt-cast celebrities who have attempted the role, so you won't feel at all swindled in that department.
Terra C. MacLeod is another fine-tuned "Chicago" veteran as Roxie's rival celebrity-seeker, the extremely limber acrobatic dancer Velma Kelly. With her sour-milk scowl and long legs akin to scissor blades, MacLeod's indomitable Velma is definitely not one to be crossed (which becomes all the more humorous whenever Roxie gets the upper hand over her).
Former "Seinfeld" star John O'Hurley might not have the most powerful singing voice as the slick lawyer Billy Flynn, but he effortlessly shows off an air of arch authoritative suaveness for a power broker who knows how to game the justice system.
Carol Woods knocks her number "When You're Good to Mama" out of the park as the prison Matron "Mama" Morton, who moonlights as a showbiz agent on the side. Woods' added scat inflections and melisma runs embellish an already sassy song.
C. Newcomer is fine as the goody-two-shoes reporter Mary Sunshine, but not quite camp enough to extract as much humor from the role as others who have tackled it.
And playing the one character who is decent and honest, Ron Orbach touchingly milks all the pathos of Roxie's cuckolded schlub husband Amos, who bemoans his sorry state with a wonderfully sung sad-clown number "Mr. Cellophane."
"Chicago" is a well-oiled touring machine under the command of director David Hyslop and choreographer David Bushman, who have skillfully re-created the Tony Award-winning Broadway work of original revival director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Ann Reinking. The only quibble is that the ensemble could be better at articulating dialogue and lyrics more clearly.
So if you've seen "Chicago" before, you'll still be dazzled, thanks to performers so deft that they come off like experienced lovers who know how to stir an audience. And if you've yet to succumb to the sexy charms of "Chicago" live, rest assured: You'll be in good hands with the current cast at the Bank of America Theatre.