If you want to warm up on this cold, bitter Chicago weekend, do yourself a favor and go see Chicago The Musical, now playing at the Bank of America Theatre. This brilliantly staged, cabaret-style production is fast-paced, sleek and smart. It is the perfect blend of sexy Fosse dancing, spontaneous comedy, and big Broadway music. This production team hit all the right notes in this razzle-dazzle revival. The veteran ensemble is strong, polished, and surprising. The orchestra, as John O'Hurley (who plays the fast talking attorney, Billy Flynn) commented, "are the best players anywhere in the country". The Chicago-based musicians have the jazz-infused style needed to play this score deeply rooted in their DNA. Perched on stage, they know when to fade into the background and when to riff off the actors during the entire show.
I've seen this show a half dozen times and hands down, this is by far the best production I've seen. This Chicago is perfectly conceived. From the moment the first player comes onto the stage and says the opening line, you know you are in for a treat. The direction is fresh and fast-paced and the ensemble has the gravitas to break the fourth wall and banter with the band and audience in a way that doesn't feel forced or overdone. There is nothing that can make you cringe worse than bad Fosse dancing; however, the flip side of that is also true. There is nothing more engaging then classic Fosse ensemble dancing when it's done well, and this show has every step on the mark. The audience's reaction to each production number was explosive from Cell Block Tango through the finale, which was met with a standing ovation. The show is loaded with veteran actors who were born to play these roles from John O'Hurley to Carol Woods as Mama Morton. The best casting decision is Bianca Marroquin as Roxie Hart: she is believable and full of honest moxie, effortlessly stealing the show. Marroquin is charming, funny, and captivating, but her strength lies in her amazing connection with the audience. She alone is worth the trip.
The lighting is gorgeous and transforms the unit set with mood and color. The choreography, recreated by David Bushman, is dynamic and his use of props in key numbers is inventive and creates gorgeous tableaus.
The show runs about two and half hours with an intermission and is a great date night or adult group show. This cast is only here for a week, so get your plans together quickly and don't miss this one. Chicago is a sure bet. My pick of the season so far!